Indian expertise is sought by European nations in the field of life sciences and biotechnology. Staf Van Reet, Managing Director of the Belgian company Viziphar Biosciences, told a seminar that the country has tremendous potential for global sourcing in life sciences.
"We are starting with an R&D project in tuberculosis, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore," he said at the seminar organized here by the Belgo-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Van Reet cited the example of the Janssen Stability Centre, which he set up in Mumbai in 1999 when he was managing director of Janssen Pharmaceutica, now a part of Johnson and Johnson. The aim, he said, "is to turn the Centre into a 150-seat Centre of Excellence, with an investment of up to $18 million".
Instead of using the word outsourcing, he said he preferred the term global sourcing, which he defined as "integrating the best resources and capabilities of India, Europe and America".
Said another speaker Marc Van Montagu: "India needs to boost the culture of innovation, to move from an outsourcing service industry to an innovative R&D based industry."
Jayant Nadiger, head of the Trade and Investment office in Bangalore of Belgium's Flanders region, told the seminar that biotechnology had been "aptly described as the 'technology of hope' because of the promise it holds out for food, health and environmental sustainability".
Nadiger, who has been instrumental in setting up Belgian companies in south India and Indian companies in the Flanders region, noted that the Indian biotech industry is growing rapidly, driven by "the strong networking partnership between large pharmaceutical firms and biotechnology firms".
Indian consumption of biotech products was "expected to quadruple in the next decade", he said.
A Belgian trade mission will visit India from March 20. Its organizers, representing the Wallonia region of Belgium, view the biotech sector as "attractive, not only for pharmaceuticals but also the agro-food industry".
India's highly qualified workforce is an attraction for Belgium's "spin-off" companies, according to the organizers. They also point to the opportunities India offers to carry out clinical tests at very competitive prices covering numerous tropical diseases.