Budget 2023: Industry leaders appreciate key takeways, focus on digitalization & skilling

Check out the post budget 2023 reactions from bioscience industry stakeholders

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New Delhi: The Union Budget 2023-24, presented by the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on February 01, 2023 has left many bioscience industry leaders disappointed due to absence of any major announcements in terms of special tax rebates or special economic zones. There has been no mention of any increase in funding for government departments and regulators. However, majority of the stakeholders are appreciating the focus on digitalization and skill development across pharma, healthcare and agriculture. Here are a few reactions across all the segments:
Biotech industry leaders give thumbs up to the budget
“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.
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.
Healthcare industry welcomes focus on skill development & PPP
Dr. Tejinder Kataria, Chairperson Radiation oncology & Cancer center, Medanta – The Medicity said, “The Annual Budget 2023 is a futuristic budget for health care. The provision of enhanced nursing education, vison for eliminating sickle cell anaemia over next 25 years, extension of existing research laboratories of ICMR organization for larger utilization across private professionals and training for. Newer medical devices through multidisciplinary courses are a few of commendable steps envisaged in this budget.”
“Technology-focused Union Budget 2023 comes at a perfect time as India accelerates the pace of the National Digital Health Mission. The budget addresses some critical gaps that have hindered the pace of growth in healthcare sector with a promise to strengthen the availability of skilled nurses in modern technology with 157 new nursing colleges being co-located with 157 new medical colleges, R&D by building facilities and collaboration with ICMR Labs, and encourage investments in start-ups, research & innovation. Given that the budget spend on healthcare is expected to be 2.1% of GDP in this fiscal, we are hopeful that the healthcare expenditure will reach the targeted 2.5% of the GDP by 2025, as envisaged in the National Health Policy, 2017,” said Dr Shravan Subramanyam, Managing Director, Wipro GE HealthCare.
“The government should consider expanding the PLI scheme for local manufacturing of MedTech Devices to supply infrastructure and technology-linked incentive schemes to boost R&D. The road ahead will need stronger public-private partnerships and sharper penetration of digital to take healthcare to the farthest reaches of the country. We look forward to a promising year ahead driven by the ‘Make in India’ dream, added Dr Subramanyam.
Meena Ganesh, Co-Founder & Chairperson, Portea Medical, said “In this Union Budget, the government has focused on some of the core needs of the health and wellness sector. The plan to establish 157 nursing colleges as collocated facilities alongside medical colleges will help cover the shortage of trained healthcare workforce and lead to greater healthcare coverage of the out-of-hospital medical services. The plans to provide access to ICMR labs and other R&D facilities as well as a collaborative approach to pharmaceuticals research and encouragement of private sector investments, multi-disciplinary training for R&D and manufacturing of high-quality medical devices, and various other such measures are going to augur well for the overall universal healthcare access and quality in India.”
“Overall, the budget has made a progressive stride towards the healthcare and startup sectors as well as in terms of giving a boost to women and their economic empowerment. These are encouraging announcements, and we hope for timely and adequate execution of the same in the months ahead,” added Mr. Ganesh.
In her comments, Chandra Ganjoo, Group Chief Executive Officer, Trivitron Healthcare said, “As expected, Budget 23-24 was a balanced effort to improve economic growth. The government’s increased emphasis on healthcare would assist the medical devices business, even though there wasn’t anything specific for the MedTech industry in the budget.”
“We expect increased demand, which will correspond with estimates that the Indian medical device market will reach Rs. 352,450 crore (US$ 50 billion) by 2025. Emphasis on announcement that public and private medical faculties will have access to some ICMR lab facilities for research, 157 new nursing colleges will be established in various locations across the nation, the pharmaceutical industry will be encouraged to invest in research through the creation of a new programme for research and development in the field,” Ms Ganjoo added.
“The Central Government has taken due cognizance of the contributions made by the Medical Devices segment to the overall healthcare industry in general and the Covid period in particular. The Government has made specific declarations pertaining to the industry, and many of these are in line with recommendations that we have been making to the Government. All these developments will promote the medical devices industry and create a favourable business environment,” said Jatin Mahajan, Secretary – Association of Diagnostic Manufacturers of India (ADMI) and Managing Director – J Mitra & Company.
“ICMR Labs across the country will be made available to the corporate and manufacturing sector for the development of Medtech products. This will specially be beneficial for the Medtech start-up ecosystem which is cash-strapped and may not have adequate resources to set up their own dedicated laboratory infrastructure,” added Mr. Mahajan.
In her comments, Runam Mehta, CEO, HealthCube said: “The decision to provide multi-disciplinary training for the development of medical devices and support for the manufacturing of high-quality devices is going to be a key enabler for the domestic medical devices industry. These courses will not only ensure the availability of skilled manpower for future medical technology but also offer opportunities for high-end manufacturing research. The decision of opening up facilities in select ICMR labs for research by private and medical colleges will enable better infrastructure access for both individuals and organizations who are looking at undertaking research and innovation in this area. I appreciate the mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047 through awareness generation and universal screening of 7 crore people in affected tribal areas; an essential step taken in the right direction.”
“We are also looking forward to seeing some announcements about increasing customs duty on the import of medical devices and PLI for domestic medical device manufacturing and development. To make India a hub for medical device manufacturing, it is also imperative for the government to support the sector through fiscal measures. Overall, the announcements show the intent of expanding medical device manufacturing in India, and we hope to see further progress in this area,” Ms Mehta added further.
Dr. Arbinder Singal, Co-founder & CEO, Fitterfly in his statement said, “As a Digital Therapeutics platform, it is encouraging to see the government focus on AI and IoT integration in health management. This will help in increasing the adoption of smart wearables such as Continuous Glucose Monitors and other devices that record vitals. Empowering medical devices and technology developers would lead to greater access, affordability and effectiveness of health management services. A number of skill development initiatives including the setting up of 157 nursing colleges across India will also help in creating a much larger pool of trained healthcare workers who will subsequently play a key role in disease management and monitoring. We hope that these decisions are implemented through effective and easier collaborations between the private and public sectors.”
Commenting on the budget, Nilesh Aggarwal, CEO, IJCP Group and Founder, MedTalks said, “The Union Budget 2023-2024 has a strong focus on the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, which is a welcome move. The new program for research for pharmaceuticals is particularly important, as the emergence of new illnesses globally poses a risk of collapse to the healthcare system if high-quality research is not conducted continuously. Additionally, the 157 nursing colleges that will be set up will help to address the shortage of quality care in healthcare. There is a welcome focus on medical devices and promoting the use of AI in healthcare. Digital health is of uttermost importance in the post-pandemic era and a greater focus needs to be laid on making healthcare more accessible and affordable. We wished to see more provisions for healthcare infrastructure and medical education. Overall, this budget is a step in the right direction when it comes to prioritizing healthcare investment and ensuring access to affordable treatments.”
In her comments, Dr. Veena Aggarwal, Consultant women’s health, Trustee, Heart Care Foundation of India said, “We welcome the increased focus on healthcare research which will enable us to be better prepared to tackle all new and unknown illnesses that we may be threatened by in the future. Promoting nursing education through the setting up of 157 new nursing colleges will help make quality care accessible to a larger population. We hoped to see more focus on training centers on heart disease and CPR  in the budget given the drastic increase in the number of heart attacks among the younger population in India. Metabolic diseases deserve specific attention as well given the pandemic proportions of these diseases due to the high-stress and unhealthy lives that the population at large is now leading. Mental health has come to the fore with COVID-19 in mammoth proportions and deserved to be given more priority in the budget as well.”
Hari Subramaniam, Founder & Director, LifeSigns, said, “The budget for 2023–24 is a significant step forward for the health-tech sector. With a focus on strengthening the research infrastructure and investment in digitalization through 5G, it sets a positive trajectory for companies like ours. The establishment of new nursing colleges and the allocation of resources for medical research and pharmaceutical innovation demonstrate a commitment to improving healthcare access and outcomes.”
Sohit Kapoor, Founder DRiefcase commented: “The National Data Governance Policy can truly be a game-changer. It has the potential to unlock tremendous value from data, especially healthcare data. The Policy, along with the recently announced Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), will encourage legitimate use of data, thereby enhancing the overall privacy framework in the country.”
“We welcome today’s announcement on enhancing research capacity for ICMR with the help of public private partnerships (PPP) which will pave the way for new clinical trials, advancements and future collaborations,” said Varsha Phadke, Dean, K.J.Somaiya Medical College, Hospital & research Centre.
“The thrust of the budget on digitilization struck me as the single biggest takeway. From establishment of three centers of excellence for artificial intelligence, creation of 100 labs for developing applications using 5G services to policy announcements like formulation of National Data Governance policy for enabling access to anonymised data and setting of the digiLocker solution for centralization data access – the budget was extremely forward looking, commented Raja Jamalamadaka, Managing Director, Roche Information Solutions India.
In her comments, Shabnum Khan, Founder, 750AD Healthcare said “An increase in budget allocation for health infrastructure and digital transformation will enable a futuristic development of the country’s health bodies. Additionally, special focus on green energy and sustainability are key takeaways that will help in fostering sustainable products in the country. Also the budget declared that new programs for pharmaceuticals will be formulated and investment in research would be encouraged. With such a step it will boost not just the infrastructure but also the backbone of the healthcare sector with advanced research in medical sciences.”
In his comments, Dr Harshit Jain, Founder and Global CEO, Doceree said, “The Union Budget 2023-24 presented by our Hon’ble Finance Minister is committed towards providing significant stimulus to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry with increased allocation of funds (as compared to previous year) and we duly welcome it. Government’s financial and infrastructural impetus focused on improving skilling and education in the sector, especially in nursing care and multidisciplinary knowledge in medical devices, shall significantly improve the availability of skilled personnel in healthcare.”
In his comments, Sudhir Raj Thout, Research Fellow, The George Institute for Global Health India said, “We welcome the announcement that cigarettes would be more expensive with the increased custom duty of 16%. This is a positive move in the right direction in reducing non-communicable diseases in the country; especially as it discourages the younger population from smoking.”
Gaurav Dubey, Founder & CEO of LivLong in his comments mentioned, “As our nation is at the forefront of healthcare services, the budget for the fiscal year 2023 has created ample opportunities for the health sector. In terms of escalating the quality of healthcare services, the stride to build 157 additional nursing colleges alongside the 157 existing medical institutions since 2015 is commendable. This will prove to be a beneficial step for the further advancement of homecare services, which will become a mainstay of the clinical protocol. Therefore, the demand for medical consulting services will increase, and more experienced and qualified personnel will enter the industry.
“Furthermore, 5G-empowered healthcare apps will be developed by the engineering institute, as 5G will enhance telehealth services significantly. Hence, medical professionals will be able to treat patients more effectively in real-time and will reach rural regions promptly due to improved communication. The aforementioned steps will ultimately lead to an improvement in healthcare services,” Mr Dubey added further.
Rahul Misra, Founder, Vesta Elder Care said, “The finance minister announced that 157 additional nursing colleges would be built in addition to the existing 157 medical colleges instituted since 2015. Hence, this is a tremendous step towards India’s goal of providing quality medical care to all citizens. Furthermore, with the funds allocated for this fiscal year, the health sector can help further improve access to medical staff services by training more nurses and medical professionals. Additionally, intending to make India a “health superpower,” the government took the step to make ICMR labs available for research by public and private medical facilities, which is commendable and an essential milestone in the healthcare sector.”
Agriculture industry positive about the budget
The Union Budget 2023-24, presented by the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman has many positive announcements for agriculture in general.
As per Ram Kaundinya, Director General, Federation of Seed Industry of India, “The project on ELS Cotton is a step in the right direction. We are currently producing only 25% of our requirement of 2m bales and the balance is being imported. We believe that a large level of research investment is needed as a part of this project in which the private sector and ICAR can work together and develop high yielding hybrids with ELS and other fibre characteristics. An allocation of Rs. 2,200 cr towards supplying disease free and high-quality horticultural planting material is a very good project. IIMR to be converted into a global Millet Hub is a very good idea. Private sector seed industry is already involved in a big way with Millet breeding, seed production and promotion among farmers.”
However, Dr Kaundinya expressed his disappointment that there has been no announcement of support to enhance research in seeds and technology. “We represented for restoration of the 200% income tax deduction of the research expenditure of seed industry. In order to face the challenges of climate change, natural resource depletion, newly emerging pests and diseases and stagnant yields research investments have to be stepped up by the private industry. We were expecting some incentivization of such investments which did not happen.”
Speaking ahead of the post-budget, Mr Vasu Naren, Managing Director & CEO, Sona Machinery, said: “With the agri budget being increased by 20 lakh crore, it calls for a massively positive step for the growth of the sector. Additionally, the Agri Accelerator Fund is a good step, it will help enable businesses to navigate government regulations and connect all stakeholders in the farm supply chain and network. This will be a game changer in terms of enhancing the agri value chain. Additionally, the focus on Amrit Kal which lies in a tech-enabled economy will only aid in the development of advanced machinery and infrastructure in all fields. Moreover, the focus on digital agri-infrastructure development will also aid in the development of a global workforce that will accelerate the agricultural economy and make it stand at par with global agri-infrastructure.”
“It is encouraging to see the government’s focus on agriculture, specifically setting up an agri accelerator fund for agri startups. This will accelerate the pace of innovation in a sector which is India’s biggest in the context of the employment it generates. The Government’s commitment to set up digital public infrastructure for agriculture will help the agritech startups to connect with more farmers and in turn enable them to realize better value for their produce. In addition to above measures, the plan to set up massive decentralized storage capacity will go a long way in helping the farmers by not only providing a respite from post-harvest loss but will act as a booster to increase the returns for them,” said Varun Khurana, Founder & CEO of Otipy.
According to Ravi Annavarapu, President, FMC India, “It’s largely a positive budget for agriculture. We welcome the government’s effort to modernize Indian agriculture with the introduction of digital public infrastructure for agriculture, Agri Accelerator Fund, Value chain linked PPP initiative on cotton, promotion of healthy planting material and enhanced agriculture credit target apart from farmers-led decentralized storage capacity build up through cooperatives.”
“This budget will promote R&D, innovation, and digitization of agriculture apart from promoting disruption through the startup ecosystem. We see this supportive of precision agriculture and make farming more sustainable. Agriculture loses more than INR 2 Lakh Crores worth of crops to biotic pressures. Government will do well to align the regulatory system to expedite introduction of newer technologies in agriculture,” added Mr. Annavarapu.
In his comments, Mohammad Azhar, Sector Lead, Government Initiatives, Villgro said “The government’s renewed focus on Green jobs in combination with Digital Public Infrastructure provides a huge impetus to incubators that are deeply invested in the Agri sector. This will fill a vital gap in this sector and is the need of the hour. The government’s unequivocal call for action on these fronts provide a certain sense of validation to some of the efforts innovators are forging ahead. In particular, the focus on Agri credits in the sectors of Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries plugs a huge void in this sector.”
In his comments, Deepak Pareek, Chief Growth Officer, Suumaya Agro Limited said, “The budget clearly demonstrates a focus on technology, innovation, and startups. This will unlock the sector’s potential and remove obstacles. Credit is the most significant input in agriculture, and the allocation of Rs 20 lakh crore for agricultural credit, an increase of 11% over the previous year, is a well-thought-out approach to boosting the sector’s performance. The government’s plan to build vast decentralised storage capacity will assist farmers in storing their crops and obtaining fair pricing. This will be a game changer for farmers in terms of revenue. The Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture will be constructed as an open source, open standard, interoperable public good, enabling inclusive farmer-centric solutions and assisting with enhanced access to farm inputs, market knowledge, and support for agribusinesses and agri-based startups.”
“Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her introductory speech for Budget 2023 emphasised encouraging steps for the betterment of the agriculture sector. An agriculture Accelerator Fund is to be set up to increase the availability of services and required inputs related equipment & facilities. Agriculture Digital Public Infrastructure and much more that will ensure the health of crops and awareness about support available to farmers. A push to the bio input resource centres – for the next 3 years one crore farmers will be assisted to adopt natural farming and 10,000 bio input resource centres will be set up is a welcome step,” said Rajesh Aggarwal, Managing Director, Insecticides India Limited.
“An integrated approach for a sustainable future, the agriculture credit target is to be increased to INR 20 Lakh Crore vs INR 18 Lakh Crore up 11.11% YoY for the enhancement and encouragement of the agro sector and upliftment of the farmers. Also, with an investment of INR 2,516 Crore for computerisation for 63,000 primary agriculture credit societies, the government has made an “agri push” for a better tomorrow. These steps will help the farmers to go to the next level of farming,” added Mr Aggarwal.
Ankit Alok Bagaria, Co-Founder, Loopworm termed the Union Budget 2023-24 “short and crisp” saying that the budget would help farmers, established businesses, and Startups in the Agri & Allied Agriculture space.
“The 6000 Cr infusion to promote fisheries would help Shrimp farming the most. Decreasing import duties on feed ingredients are going to help the feed manufacturers and help formalise animal agriculture but would lead to reduced margins for domestic feed ingredient manufacturers. For young startups, the agri accelerator fund is a good initiative but there was less focus to promote Agri-Startups at the growth stage. Funds to support Bio-based products to promote natural farming should boost the plant Bio-stimulant & Bio-fertiliser industry,” stated Bagaria, while welcoming the budget.
As per Vasanth Madhav Kamath Founder & CEO of Hydrogreens Agri Solutions, “Green energy, green farming, distributed bio fertile production centers, increase of agri credit to 20lakh crores, and a further push for agri accelerators are great actions to catalyze productivity while also nudge environmentally sustainable practices.”

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