The $22-billion Tata group has opened a drug development centre at Bangalore for high-end research in pharmaceuticals.
Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata inaugurated the sprawling centre, christened Advinus Therapeutics Ltd, located on the city's outskirts.
The development centre will offer a pre-clinical to early clinical development platform to global pharmaceutical, agro and biotech industries.
The Bangalore centre also has capabilities for agrochemicals development.
It is an accredited research and development centre with certification from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International and the German, Dutch and Indian regulatory agencies for good laboratory practices (GLP) compliance.
Inaugurating the facility, Ratan Tata said India was on the cusp of a new era in the knowledge-based industry, with drug discovery, drug development, life sciences, biotechnology and bio-informatics finding their place of prominence across the country.
"After many years of obscurity, India was propelled into certain degree of high visibility in the IT sphere, with the revelation that it has enormous capability in terms of human capital and capacity to make its contribution initially in off-shoring and eventually in more creative areas," said Tata.
According to Rashmi Barbhaiya, managing director and CEO of the centre, the company will ramp up its headcount to about 500 soon from 350, of which 270 are in Bangalore and 80 are employed in its Pune facility.
"Our vision is to create long-term value through internal and collaborative drug discovery with global pharmaceutical firms such as Merck with which we have entered into an alliance last year. The Pune centre will discover new molecules, which will be developed into medicines at the development centre here," said Barbhaiya.
Advinus has about 70 customers, including four of the top 10 global pharmaceuticals, six of top 10 Indian pharmaceutical and biotech firms and four of the top 10 global agrochemicals and non-pharmaceutical companies.
The company is also partnering with DNDi (drugs for neglected diseases initiative), a Geneva-based organisation, for developing a medicine to cure visceral leishmanias (kala azar).