Among some of the industry/sector specific events at a global level, a couple of annual events organized in India stand out. BioAsia is one such event that has grown from strength to strength. This annual conference focusing on India’s growing biotechnology sector has been a source for foreign investments, trade and joint ventures.
The state government of Andhra Pradesh initiated this project in 2004 and with the association of FABA (The Federation of Asian Biotech Associations) , Genome Valley (India’s first world-class biotech cluster for research and manufacturing activities established by Government of Andhra Pradehsh) and Pharmexcil (Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council) it has been extending support to the industry’s growth to a large extent.
FABA moved a step ahead by bringing on board delegations from various countries’ governments. This effort yielded fruits as the number participants attending the BioAsia conference has been increasing year after year.
Another area that FABA looked into was the agri-biotech field. It introduced a full –fledged event pertaining to this area during the last BioAsia conference- AgBioAsia.
Today, BioAsia has become a global brand among the corporate events held throughout the world, putting Hyderabad, India as the one of the favored destinations for biotechnology. Here’s an exclusive feature on BioAsia by LSW LifeScienceWorld.
Shakthi M Nagappan on the success of BioAsia meet
Shakthi Nagappan is a technology development professional with International Crop Research Institute (ICRISAT), India specializing in translational research on transgenic crops. As Executive Secretary of FABA(Federation of Asian Biotech Associations ) and Convenor and CEO, BioAsia, Shakthi conceptualized and developed the project “Russia-India Biotech Network” which is being jointly implemented by FABA and Russian Biotech Society with an investment of half a million Euro
He also established the NBAS (National Biological Association for students) as the student wing of All India Biotech Association (AIBA) in 2006, which is the first of its kind in India and has a membership of more than 1000 across the country. He is a recipient of National Children Science Congress Award, Young Scientist Award and All India Biotech Association Award.
LSW LifeScienceWorld’s Editor, Sankar Iyer finds out more information from Shakthi M Nagappan, Convenor & CEO, BioAsia and Executive Secretary, FABA, Hyderabad.
LSW: BioAsia over the years has built up a reputation and has become a brand of India. A few words on the evolution of this project and the future vision Shakthi Nagappan: Since its inception in 2004, BioAsia was always intended to be a global conclave to help facilitate business in biotechnology sector in India. With this primary goal, the event has evolved over the years and has been able to build traction from the global life science industry, fostering the development of life sciences in India. Owing to the popular demand of the industry, BioAsia has taken up the mantle of an advocacy platform in the last few editions advocating key issues including intellectual property regime, issues surrounding biologics and biosimilars, etc.
The vision is to continue the role of a catalyst for the lifesciences industry in India and bring to the fore, key issues affecting this sector to enable a business & innovation friendly ecosystem.
LSW: The number of conferences focused on this sector (biotechnology) on the global front and on domestic front, and most of them attracting high industry participation, where does BioAsia meet stands
Shakthi Nagappan : Today, BioAsia is widely seen as a catalyst for the life sciences industry providing an excellent platform for B2B meetings, roadmap for resolution of key issues affecting the industry and setting the agenda for Indian regulators and policy makers. It is emerged undoubtedly the biggest event in the country in every perspective, in terms of footfalls, B2B meetings, business transactions, working group discussions, participation of global thought leaders etc. Participation of key opinion leaders and global industry captains, including the Global R&D Chief of Pfizer, CEO of GAVI, President of Merck & Co., Global Chief of Janssen R&D, Global Head of Diabetes of Sanofi, CRM Director of NIH, Executive Vice President & CMO (Worldwide) of Pfizer Inc., Nobel Laureates, etc. bears testimony to the impact and reach of the platform. Also, the fact that recommendations of the event has been quoted in the Indian Parliament, emphasizes the recognition and stature of the event.
LSW: On the organizing front, the Andhra Pradesh government’s initiative to organize BioAsia in association with FABA is highly appreciated. A few words on the respective role played by the government and FABA in the entire project over the years
Shakthi Nagappan : The Government of Andhra Pradesh had been the front runner in Biotechnology and had established the first systematically developed & largest organized biotech cluster in the country – Genome Valley in Hyderabad. Apart from promoting this flagship event – BioAsia in association with FABA, the government has taken a proactive role in reciprocating industry views, providing the right environment for deals concluded during the event and helping in approaching the union government wherever required.
While the primary onus of organizing the event has been with FABA and PHARMEXCIL, AP Government through the industries and commerce department & APIIC, continues to play a critical role in event organization. With established footprint in 20 Asian countries including China, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Japan, South Korea etc as its members, FABA has been in the forefront of getting international government-level delegations, not just from Asia but across the world to participate in the annual forum.
LSW: BioAsia’s role on any joint venture / collaboration of business /tie-ups/FDIs between Indian companies/govt. and other international participating companies/govt. policy makers
Shakthi Nagappan : As an industry event, BioAsia provides the platform for networking, B2B meetings, face-to-face with government functionaries such as regulators, policy makers etc. Sizeable Investments have also been announced at the event in the past. Delegation-level, government to government level agreements / MoUs have also been signed at BioAsia. The organizers of BioAsia believe in creating the right environment and bringing together of the stakeholders. However, we would not like to be a part of such business meetings and cannot comment on any specific details of such business transactions as our role is limited to bringing stakeholders together and ends at that.
LSW : Agri-Biotechnology area has a phenomenal growth but does not come into limelight like other areas of biotechnology. BioAsia has taken up the initiative to give due recognition this area deserves. Your comments on how AgBioAsia was perceived.
Shakthi Nagappan : Agricultural biotechnology holds great hope for feeding the world by increasing crop yields, reduce crop losses from pests and diseases; improve the nutrient efficiency of food and animal feeds; extend the post-harvest life of fruits and vegetables; and to increase the stress tolerance of crop plants allowing them to tolerate various environmental extremes. As rightly acknowledged by our union agriculture minister recently, biotech holds the key to future food security of India. After the United States, Brazil and Argentina, respectively, India is the fourth largest nation in terms of hectares cultivated with biotech crops with 10.6 million hectares (22.6 million acres) of biotech cotton grown in 2011.
We at BioAsia always had the Agri Biotechnology as a part of the conference which delivered significant value to the participants. With the increasing global focus on issues pertaining to food security, we decided to scale up the agri focus and convert it into a full fledged event in our last event. This agri event is being organized by Government of Andhra Pradesh in partnership with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and FABA.
LSW : When it comes to the commercial aspect, what is the status on the traffic (participants) at BioAsia over the last few years, as another annual meet on more or less the same fold is being held with a similar audience during the same period (in India)
Shakthi Nagappan From its inception, BioAsia has always been organized in beginning of the year and the tradition is being continued. If there are other events organized during the same period, we feel this possibly could be complimenting our efforts to attract global players to India. In the past few years, the number of participants at BioAsia indeed has been on the raise significantly. For instance, we had over 200% increase in the number of registered delegates in the past two years and the number of participating countries went up from 22 to 47. Having said that, our focus and benchmark is on the quality of audience. Participant profile of event reflects the attendance of key decision makers of the industry and this is what is important, in our view.
LSW: “Fostering Innovations in Life Sciences R&D” is the theme worked out for BioAsia 2014. Any particular reason?
Shakthi Nagappan:The world today is demanding cutting-edge innovations in Life sciences that promise to push boundaries as Bio-business holds immense opportunities. With the increasing disease burden, growing need for more efficient and affordable healthcare solutions, innovation holds the key and will drive the global life sciences economy in the coming years. The 11th edition of the unparalleled industry platform, the BioAsia will open with this most cogent theme – ‘Innovate. Evolve’ and will bring together the global leaders to deliberate on the path breaking innovations in the sector, not just in terms of the innovative products but also the models to cut down R&D cost while increasing efficiencies, innovative financing models, and offer excellent opportunity for new business ideas.
We felt that the strong need for Science-Business Bridge or the industry academia linkages, not just in India but across the globe. Hence, we have introduced a new initiative called Technology Conferences – that will bring together a trans-disciplinary environment for driving innovation in life science industry through a new initiative. We have partnered with an organization called Insight Bioventures, who are into technology transfers and commercialization for this initiative. The event will focus on helping the innovators / scientists building capabilities to break the “Resistors” in the product development cycle for smooth flow of technology and collaborations. Focus of the technology conferences will be on key growth areas for India and perhaps Asia, including the Medical Electronics and Devices, Bio-Energy, Bio-Informatics, Regenerative Medicine, Bio-Therapeutics, Drug Discovery and Personalized Medicine.
LSW: Any additional information on BioAsia 2014?
Shakthi Nagappan: With an expected footfalls of 1,500+ participants, 1000+ Business Meetings, 650+ Corporate and 60+ Global Thought Leaders, the three-day networking conference has a sole agenda – Innovation. The response so far has been overwhelming and we have lined-up an extraordinary array of global leaders to speak in this event. The list of speakers and partners will be announced shortly. We are confident that 2014 event will be definitely surpass the benchmark set by BioAsia in the past.