Context: India’s ambition to become a “Global Biomanufacturing Hub” by 2025 can be realized with the support of its QUAD partners, leveraging their complementary strengths and collaborative efforts in technology transfer, funding, infrastructure development, workforce training, regulatory harmonization, and research collaboration.
- In March 2021, the Quad (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States) set up a Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group to facilitate cooperation, monitor trends, and scout for opportunities related to developments in critical and emerging technologies, that included biotechnology.
- However, the potential for Quad cooperation in biotechnology remains insufficiently tapped.
- India’s National Biotechnology Development Strategy also envisions the country as a “Global Biomanufacturing Hub” by 2025.
- While the strategy sets a target of $100 billion for the hub, it is important to recognize that India’s ambitions require external support, particularly through its Quad partners, to enable its initial development.
What is Biomanufacturing?
- Biomanufacturing uses living systems, particularly microorganisms and cell cultures, to produce molecules and materials on a commercial scale.
- It involves the application of biotechnology to create a wide range of products, including pharmaceuticals, vaccines, biofuels, enzymes, chemicals, and biopolymers.
- The use of biotechnology in products and processes has ensured ease of living, enhanced healthcare, increased agricultural productivity, and created employment opportunities, among other benefits.
Stats IQ: Biomanufacturing industry in India
- India’s bioeconomy industry accounts for approximately 3% share of the global Biotechnology industry.
- In 2021-22, the Indian Bioeconomy sector contributed nearly 2.6% share in India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- In the last eight years, India’s bioeconomy industry has expanded eightfold, from US$ 10 billion in 2014 to more than US$ 80 billion in 2022 and is expected to surpass US$ 150 billion dollars by 2025 and over US$ 300 billion dollars by 2030.
- India is ranked third in Asia and is one of the top 12 biotech destinations in the world.
- Key segments of India’s biomanufacturing economy
- In the Indian bio-economy market, biopharmaceuticals and the medical devices industry are the two largest segments, accounting for nearly 62% of the total contribution.
- Biopharmaceuticals: India is one of the world’s largest suppliers of affordable medications and vaccinations. It accounts for the largest share, contributing 49% of the total Indian Bioeconomy industry.
- Bio Agriculture (Agri): The biopesticides, biostimulants, biofertilizers, and BT cotton constitute the bio-agriculture segment.
- Bio industrial: Biofuels / Bioenergy and Industrial Enzymes are the two verticals that make up the Bio Industrial segment.
- Bio Services: They are aids and services offered to clinical trials, healthcare sectors, biotech firms, and educational initiatives to increase support and research so that these entities can channel and strengthen their research progress. India has the most US FDA-approved facilities worldwide, outside of the US and has a strong competence in contract manufacturing, research, and clinical trials.
- Bioinformatics/IT: It is the use of computer technology to comprehend and utilize biological and biomedical data effectively.
Initiatives by the Government to Strengthen Biomanufacturing Economy in India
- National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2021-2025: The aim is to make India globally competitive in biotechnology research, innovation, translation, entrepreneurship and industrial growth and be a USD 150 billion Bioeconomy by 2025.
- Biotech parks: Biotechnology parks and incubators are established across the country by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) to translate research into products and services by providing necessary infrastructure support.
- These biotechnology parks offer facilities to scientists, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for technology incubation, technology demonstration and pilot plant studies to accelerate the commercial development of biotechnology.
- The government, at present, supports nine biotechnology parks in various states, with the bulk being in the southern region.
How the QUAD grouping can be leveraged to make India a Biomanufacturing hub?
India has the advantage of skilled manpower and the potential to provide economies of scale. A Quad production hub in India could leverage all the strengths of the group’s members.
- First, the hub could focus on strengthening physical infrastructure by facilitating technology transfer and connecting investors.
- India’s existing biotechnology hubs in Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad and Faridabad are ideal clusters around which the Quad partners can build world-class biomanufacturing facilities.
- These hubs are a lodestone for pharmaceutical manufacturing, enzyme biomanufacturing and biotechnology startups.
- Second, the hub could focus on bolstering workforce capabilities by establishing permanent training facilities in cooperation with area universities. These centers would give researchers access to cutting-edge technology and training.
- Finally, the hub can lower barriers to research and commercial cooperation through a collaboration office. The hub could house programs to support joint projects between India and other Quad countries. The harmonization of regulations and data sharing regarding biomanufacturing would secure supply chains for Quad nations and allow for more effective international collaboration.