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Telangana aims to make life sciences a $100 billion industry




Buoyed by the tremendous growth in the life sciences industry in Telangana amidst the pandemic over the last one year, the state government has set the vision to growing the sector to $100 billon dollars by 2030.

“Our dream and vision of growing the life sciences industry to over USD 100 billion looks plausible and we remain committed to it,” state’s industry minister K. T. Rama Rao told Bio Asia 2021, the annual flagship event which began here on Monday.

The life sciences sector in Telangana in terms of value is $13 billion while in terms of cluster revenues it is $50 billion. The potential for next 10 years is to move up to $100 billion of ecosystem valuation, said Dr Satish Reddy, Chairman, Reddy’s Laboratories, who heads the advisory committee constituted by the state government to prepare vision 2030 for the sector.

Referring to manufacturing of vaccines for Covid-19 in Hyderabad, Rama Rao said Hyderabad’s position as the “vaccine capital of the world” was further bolstered. “I take pride in saying that Hyderabad rose to the occasion and made an impact for the world to witness. Our position as the vaccine capital of the world was further bolstered and it is a matter of pride that the world is looking to India and Hyderabad,” he said.

KTR, as the minister is popularly known, claimed that Hyderabad’s life sciences ecosystem came forward and showed its fortitude in the last one year. He pointed out that when then US President Donald Trump requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi for supply of Remdesivir, they had to look towards Hyderabad.

He said the visit of foreign envoys from over 60 countries and that of the Prime Minister to Hyderabad’s Genome Valley is a testimony to the cluster’s significance in the global context.

KTR said Bharat Biotech’s remarkable contribution and commitment to develop India’s first indigenous vaccine for Covid-19 is laudable. He also termed the efforts of Biological E, Indian Immunologicals and others as very significant and laudable. In addition, Hetero pharma and Dr. Reddy’s are augmenting the global supply by manufacturing and distributing Russian vaccine Sputnik. Further, Aurobindo Pharma is building world-class vaccine manufacturing facility with a capacity of about 450 million doses.

He exuded confidence that significant global population will be immunised with vaccines produced in Hyderabad saying this is no small feat to accomplish.

He pointed out that the life sciences sector in the state has attracted investments to the tune of about Rs. 3,700 crores in last one year with an employment potential for around 14,000 people.

“A feather in our cap has been the approval of Umbralisib for cancer treatment. It is historic because this is the first drug ever discovered in India and approved by the US FDA. I am extremely proud that the discovery of Umbralisib is led from Incozen’s facility in Genome Valley.”

He recalled that Sai Life Sciences, a leading contract research organisation, inaugurated its new Research & Development centre at Genome Valley with an investment of about Rs. 400 crores. Syngene, which inaugurated its campus in Genome Valley during last BioAsia, doubled the scientist count to 225.

GVK Bio, another Hyderabad-based company focused on supporting global innovators, is also expanding rapidly and will be adding 600 new jobs this year in Hyderabad.

Granules India will invest about Rs. 400 crore to set up a facility with capacity to manufacture 10 billion units of finished dosages that will generate employment for about 1,600 persons. Laurus Labs is investing Rs. 300 crores to set up a formulation facility in Genome Valley with a capacity of 5 billion units.

Switzerland-based Ferring Pharmaceuticals, which announced its entry into Genome Valley previously, started operations last year.

A Canadian company called Jamp Pharmaceutical had announced investment in Genome Valley in 2018 and their state-of-the-art facility in Genome Valley is nearing completion. KTR will be inaugurating this facility next month.

The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) is also establishing the country’s largest National Animal Resource facility for biomedical research in Genome Valley. This is expected to be inaugurated soon.

The Bio Asia inaugural saw signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the state government with Cytiva to set up a Biopharma scale up facility – B-Hub in Genome valley. As eight out of 10 top selling drugs globally today are biopharmaceuticals, B-Hub will help Telangana and India in accelerating the growth of biopharmaceutical sector. KTR was confident that Telangana will emerge the biopharmaceutical capital of India.

He said he was personally bullish about the medical devices sector. About 40 companies are establishing their manufacturing / R&D facilities at the Medical Devices Park at Sultanpur in Rangareddy district. Some of these companies have already started commercial production and many of them are lined up for commencement by end of this year.

The minister said global medical devices major Medtronic’s largest innovation and engineering center in Hyderabad will be inaugurated next month. The company last year announced one of their biggest investments – $170 million – globally r to establish the facility.

On the pharma front, KTR said the government remained committed to grounding the Hyderabad Pharma City project soon to support India’s pharma industry regain its leadership position in APIs and KSMs offering significant cost and value benefits.

“In addition, we are also working on several other exciting initiatives such as Digital Medicine Hub, Institute for Cell and Gene Therapy, Flow Chemistry Hub, a world class life sciences university, and many more to build strong foundations for the next generation opportunities and to support our aspirations,” he added.

Dr Satish Reddy said Telangana’s vision is to emerge as Asia’s pre-eminent innovation destination. “We also want to help improve public health infrastructure accelerate clinical research,” he added.

Jayesh Ranjan, secretary, industry, government of Telangana, said the 18th edition of Bio Asia was being held despite the prevailing situation. He noted that annual life sciences convention has evolved as pre-eminent global meeting for researchers, academic, industry, stratups and governments.

The two-day conference with the theme ‘move the needle’ is being held virtually. He said 30,000 participants have registered for the event, the highest in its history.


IT Minister blasts Twitter, says it failed to comply with new guidelines




A day after micro-blogging platform Twitter said that it has appointed a Chief Compliance Officer, Union Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said that the US-based company has failed to comply to the new intermediary guidelines.

In a series of tweets, the minister came down hard on the platform over its reluctance to comply with the new norms.

“There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the 26th of May,” Prasad said.

He also said that Twitter was given multiple opportunities to comply with the same, however it has “deliberately chosen” the path of non-compliance.

Observing that the culture of India varies like its large geography, he said in another tweet: “In certain scenarios, with the amplification of social media, even a small spark can cause a fire, especially with the menace of fake news. This was one of the objectives of bringing the Intermediary Guidelines.”

“What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over enthusiastic about its fact checking mechanism, it’s failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing & indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation,” he said.

Prasad said that it is astounding that Twitter which portrays itself as the flag bearer of free speech, chooses the path of deliberate defiance when it comes to the intermediary guidelines.

“Further, what is perplexing is that Twitter fails to address the grievances of users by refusing to set up process as mandated by the law of the land. Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulates media, only when it suits, its likes and dislikes,” he said.

Further, in another development, official sources have said that Twitter has lost its status as intermediary platform in India as it has not complied with new guidelines.

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ICICI Bank launches ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’




The ICICI Bank on Wednesday announced the launch of ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’, a comprehensive set of digital banking solutions for corporates and their entire ecosystem including promoters, group companies, employees, dealers, vendors and all other stakeholders.

The wide range of 360-degree solutions enables corporates to seamlessly meet all banking requirements of their ecosystem in an expeditious and frictionless manner. With this launch, ICICI Bank aims to be the preferred banking partner for companies and their entire ecosystem.

The environment in which corporate customers operate is becoming increasingly dynamic and competitive with accelerated digital adoption transforming every business. In this ever-changing environment, a banking partner, which can serve not only the corporates but also the entire ecosystems where they operate in, adds significant value to corporate customers, the bank said in a statement.

With this backdrop, the Bank has created ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’ to serve the companies and their ecosystem by bringing the full bank to the customers, it added.

A first-of-its kind initiative, the ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’ provides customised digital banking services to companies in over 15 leading industries– such as financial services, IT/ITES, pharmaceuticals, steel to name a few– and their entire ecosystem. Armed with the Bank’s digital platforms, these services can further be tailor-made for companies within an industry.

The four main pillars of the ‘ICICI STACK for Corporates’ are: digital banking solutions for companies; digital banking services for channel partners, dealers and vendors; digital banking services for employees and curated services for promoters, directors and signatories.

In order to supplement these digital efforts, ICICI Bank has opened eight ecosystem branches — five in Mumbai and three in the National Capital Region (NCR). It plans to launch another four in this financial year.

Vishakha Mulye, Executive Director, ICICI Bank said, “In an increasingly competitive and dynamic environment with rapid digital transformation impacting every industry, corporates look towards a banking partner, which can offer the breadth and depth of solutions for the entire ecosystem. With an objective to cater to the ecosystem of every corporate, we have launched a digital ‘ICICI Stack for Corporates’ with many industry first features. It offers banking solutions to corporates with backward and forward integration for their entire network of employees, dealers, vendors and all other stakeholders. We look forward to partnering with our customers for the banking needs of their entire ecosystem and unlock the full potential.”

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Brent may test $78-$80 levels, support at $68-$70 levels: Emkay



Petrol. (File Photo: IANS)

Brent crude oil prices may test higher levels of $78-$80, and the support may be at USD 68-70 level, according to a study by Emkay Wealth Management.

But the rise may be, to a certain extent, limited by the strength in the US Dollar against other currency majors, the study added.

One major factor that dominated oil markets is the possibility of a nuclear deal between the US and Iran, and also better relations between the two countries, based on the reported talks between the two parties. This would mean that the supply from Iran will be in the markets as soon as such a pact is reached. Therefore, the prices should naturally come down.

But there is a strong view that oil prices may start going up, anticipating this supply in the near future, Emkay said.

One of the seasonal factors is that during and immediately after the summer in the northern hemisphere the number of people who would take to the highways moving to holiday destinations is quite large, and this keeps the prices high. This is one reason that may support prices to remain high.

It is also worth noting that the recovery in economic activity in the US and Europe is on course, and the same may be true of the leading Asian countries too. This may also support higher oil prices though demand in Asia is yet to go back to the pre-pandemic levels, the company’s study said.

The production in the US which was at 13 million barrels per day just before the pandemic has touched almost 11 million barrels per day recently. Therefore, restoration of supply as well as demand is happening.

Overall economic conditions warrant higher consumption and therefore, higher prices. Again, much would depend on the stance taken by OPEC+ which may be meeting soon. Russia is now in sync with OPEC in achieving the production cuts which the OPEC had envisioned earlier.

A related matter is the enhanced climate activism seen in the recent past and the likely attempts at containment of carbon emissions by oil companies and producers. It is gathering pace and it is good for the environment and posterity. It also means higher prices for oil as we start implementing the governance standards on climate. The extent to which renewable energy or electricity could replace the traditional sources is limited in the initial stages, and in fact, many believe that the common man may not be able to afford the costs associated with electric vehicles.

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