Budget 2023: Biotech industry leaders hail fresh initiatives

The focus on R&D initiatives via creation of Centres of Excellence and opening up ICMR labs for private companies has earned praise from the industry stakeholders

New Delhi: The biotechnology industry and allied segments are upbeat over the fresh opportunities of collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research. Another feel-good factor is the creation of Centres of Excellence for digitalization. 
“I welcome the announcement of the new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals through COEs. The opening of select ICMR labs for research with public and private medical faculties will enhance industry-academia linkages,” said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon Limited. 
“The capex outlay of 10 trillion will help spur higher growth in the backdrop of a weak global economy, while the additional money in the hands of the people due to direct tax revisions will boost consumption. The increase in allocation of funds for pharma and healthcare this year is a step in the right direction,” added Ms Shaw.
“The budget looks very balanced, very upward to me, and there’s almost been a good balance in terms of all sectoral areas and interventions,” said Suchitra Ella, cofounder and Managing Director, Bharat Biotech.
Pankaj R. Patel, Chairman, Zydus Lifesciences mentioned, “The Budget is growth oriented. The government expenditure on capital has gone up significantly however fiscal deficit targets are in line with expectations.The lifesciences and medical sector will stand to benefit greatly with the impetus on innovation and R&D. The PRIP announcement in the budget speech is a step in the right direction. The move to open select ICMR labs for research programmes by public and private companies will help in strengthening the R&D ecosystem in the country. Setting up of Centres of Excellence for innovation and the Government’s initiatives to encourage investments in R&D will go a long way in bringing Indian Innovation to the forefront. The medical devices sector will also stand to gain from the new multidisciplinary courses which will be introduced as they will bring in skilled talent and enable high-technology and promote research and manufacturing of these technologies in India.”
Reacting to the budget, Sanjiv Navangul, Managing Director & CEO, Bharat Serums and Vaccines, commented: “The first budget in Amrit Kaal that envisions a fruitful and prosperous India@100, has provided much-deserved attention to pharmaceutical research.  We are delighted with the announcement of a new pharma research program that promotes research and innovation through centres of excellence. This reaffirms India’s commitment towards research and innovation as we strengthen our vision towards Making in India and Innovating in India for India and the world.”
In his comments, Manoj Saxena, Managing Director, Bayer Zydus Pharma said, “A new program to promote pharmaceutical research & development (R&D) will help spur investment in innovations that can address areas of high disease burden and unmet health needs in India. This is a long-awaited move, and we hope such a program will provide sustained incentives for investment so that the Indian pharmaceutical industry becomes a global hub for both discovery and development work.
“Another critical requirement in India’s journey to provide healthcare for all has been to augment health system resources and medical personnel. The move to introduce 157 new nursing colleges in co-location with existing medical colleges will help relieve pressures on doctors and in the long term, increase health system capacity. This will facilitate greater and faster access to primary and preventive healthcare,” added Mr Saxena.
Welcoming budget, Sanjay Vyas, Executive Vice President, India Country Head, Parexel said, “The 2023–24 Union Budget witnessed some major announcements for the pharmaceutical industry. Firstly, encouraging clinical researchers to collaborate by providing ICMR facilities is an excellent initiative for bringing in diverse areas of expertise and enhancing ideas that can drive the development of new treatments and therapies that can have a positive impact on patient outcomes. This initiative will also enable researchers to gain access to newer technologies, tools, and platforms that can enhance their ability to generate new insights and innovations. Furthermore, introducing newer programmes to promote research and innovation through a centre of excellence for the pharmaceutical industry will be game-changing.”
Surajit Chakrabartty, CFO, MedGenome Labs said, “The Union Budget 2023-24 is extremely comprehensive from the perspective of the healthcare sector promoting inclusion and accessibility of healthcare in a way that proves to have a far-reaching impact. Government’s emphasis on innovation, digitization and R&D has always been evident and has stimulated growth over time. A nation’s stability and resilience can be enhanced by the application of science and technology, which are important catalysts for change. This is evidenced in India’s leap of 41 spots (to 40th) in the Global Innovation Index in just seven years.”
In his comments, Dhananjay Singh, Head – Science and Lab Solutions, Merck Life Science said, “The latest initiatives to promote investments in R&D and healthcare infrastructure, as stated by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the 2023–24 Union Budget, are a step in the right direction. Launching industry-specific new age courses as part of the redesigned Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 4.0 is a strong start towards supporting a sustainable life science ecosystem in terms of skill development.”
“The suggested emphasis on interdisciplinary courses in cutting-edge research, high-end manufacturing, and medical technologies is a step in the right way toward empowering the workforce with the most up-to-date skills required for the pharma and biopharma sectors. Innovations will be sparked by the proposal that some ICMR Labs would be open for collaborative research between public and private enterprises. We welcome these measures and look forward to their successful implementation,” added Mr Singh.

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