Goa can be a leader in biotech: Raktate

Team Goan May 11, 2013

As the economy of the state takes a dive, some consolation may be found in the performance of the pharma industry. The Goan met with the MD of Mabpharma Pvt Ltd, Sandeep Raktate to understand its status in the state

The Goan: Could you highlight the current situation in Goa as to which companies are into biotech products here, the export figures and the indigenous consumption? 

Sandeep Raktate: Biotech is not new to Goa but biotech growth is not much as compared to the pharma business. This may be because of it’s relatively new technology and regulatory guidelines and also because the road path was not well defined in India so the impact was felt in Goa also. Now, things are in dynamic mode as is visible from the list of events, companies and industry academia conferences and especially the biosimilars session organised by IPA in Goa in last month. Initially the state was known only for pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing, but now we have observed that a lot of companies are setting biotech plants in Goa.

Some of the companies like Unichem biotech for recombinant proteins, Syngenta biotech (MNC) - for agribiotech, Tulip diagnostics- for diagnostic, Goodwin biotech (Wallace group of companies)- for CRAMS for biologics and finally Mabpharm (MNC) have set up base in the state. Apart from this, there are few companies which are in food biotech, which is one of the branches in biotechnology segment. Syngenta and tulip having more than 200 crores revenue in India, and products of other companies are in advance stage of development.

TG:  Are there any problems being faced by these companies in the state?

SR: The talent pool is restricted, besides there is an absence of subsidies for companies planning to set up base in the state. Excise benefits which were planned were also cancelled. Electricity for biotech manufacturing is very expensive so you can get an idea of the problems.

TG:  What are the incentives given by the state govt?

SR: Previously the investment subsidy scheme, the employment subsidy scheme and interest subsidy scheme were only applicable to biotechnology units.  The investment subsidy scheme is now applicable to micro, small, medium and large biotech units. The state investment subsidy for biotech units represents 15% by value of the fixed capital investment of a biotech unit located in the state, subject to a maximum limit of Rs 15 lakh. It is hoped the state subsidy employment scheme will boost employment for local youth. The subsidy shall be given to the eligible units at a rate of Rs 15,000 per employee per annum subject to a maximum amount or Rs 75 lakh per year to one unit for a period of two years from date of operation. The interest subsidy scheme will be to the extent of 1.5% of the total net turnover or 30% of the interest paid by the units, whichever is less, subject to a maximum ceiling of Rs 5 lakh per annum per unit.

TG: The growth of manufacturing of biotech drugs, the scope of research in Goa?

SR: Goa is confident of emerging as a leader in the biotech sector. A number of leading institutions such as NIO, Goa University, Goa college of pharmacy are doing pioneering research work, and conducting cutting edge research in biomedical, Marine biotechnology and biotechnology. The state has the resources to make the biopharmaceutical industry look at Goa as the 'most preferred destination' and to attract and accelerate investment in this industry.  The state environment is favourable for the companies in term of ecosystem for the biotech companies who are working on the cell culture platform. This is the reason why we also set up our biotech plant with mammalian cell culture technology in Verna, Goa.

TG: Is manpower expertise available in the state?

SR: The biotechnology sector has refused to take off in Goa because in comparison to other states, Goa has only 3 colleges which offers bachelors degree in biotechnology and only Goa university, and NIO offer the master programme.  As per recent report, the masters programme in biotechnology offered at Goa University sees nearly no Goan students qualifying for the seats as it requires clearing the national-level entrance exam conducted by the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

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