Bio Asia 2017: Power of the past, force of the future
Bio Asia 2017, a global healthcare exhibition and conference, started on February 6, 2017, here in Hyderabad. The three day event was inaugurated by the Telangana Governor ESL Narsimhan.
Early into the second day of Bio Asia, packed halls witnessed eminent speakers from the pharma industry sharing their future vision for the global healthcare sector. The 14th edition of Bio Asia, as the theme suggests, was a platform for delegates, coming from more than 50 countries, to collaborate and leverage India's potential in achieving quality healthcare for billions all over the world.
Dr. Paul Stoffels, Worldwide Chairman of Pharma, Johnson & Johnson(J&J)
The must-attend event for any healthcare enthusiast saw participation from more than 800 corporates, and over 100 high-profile speakers. The morning session on February 7 had a special address from the likes of Dr. Paul Stoffels, Worldwide Chairman of Pharma, Johnson & Johnson(J&J). The renowned multinational acknowledged India's humungous contribution to the world market of generic drugs and laid a renewed focus on innovation and risk-taking. While addressing pressing world health problems of endemics like Ebola, Zika and TB, Paul stressed that the broad goal was to make drugs globally accessible, to whoever needs them. He also shed light on J&J's ultimate goal of developing a HIV vaccine.
Dr.Vas Narasimhan, Global Head of Drug Development & CMO, Novartis
Dr. Narasimhan, began his special address by drawing attention to the speedy progress of medical science. Comparing today's average life expectancy of 70-80 years with that of 100 years ago, which was 30-40 years, he said that a steady stream of medical innovation was driving worldwide development. In response to an environment of increasing uncertainty in R&D investment, he said that boosting drug development and patient access were good reason for strong investment to continue. The gap between development of medicines and their access to people, according to him, needed filling. Impressed with the startup ecosystem of Hyderabad, he said that Novartis was looking forward to being committed to India, and in particular, Hyderabad.
Emphasising the need to be more productive in a cost-effective manner, BVR Mohan Reddy, Founder and Executive Chairman, Cyient, India said that the Indian industry needs to focus on frugal investment. Dr. Murtaza Khorakiwala, Managing Director, Wockhardt, India, spoke of the rapid rate of innovation and technological change, which is creating a great deal of diversity and specialised areas of knowledge. With special focus on open innovation, he said that companies had to start looking outwards and collaborating with other industries to keep up with the advancements.
While industry bigwigs discussed cutting-edge research and innovation, an exhibition in the adjacent hall buzzed with activity. Stalls put up by well-known pharma giants like Aurobindo, Dr Reddy's, Novartis and MSN Labs were swarmed with visitors. Medical startups, from across India, including Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur and Bangalore were present, with the sole objective of attracting clients, partners and investors.
Representatives of state from Guwahati and Rajasthan also participated, to attract companies to their lavish Biotech Parks. Located within the IIT Guwahati campus, the 21 acre Guwahati Biotech Park offers infrastructure and training support to startups. Its incubation centre has already attracted 7 entrepreneurs, and is steadily adding to the number.
Ranging from pharma-specific logistics, vaccine manufacturers to Medika Bazaar, the Flipkart of the healthcare industry, there were companies from all allied pharma businesses. GVK Bio and Jubilant Biosys were key players from the contract research organisations (CRO).
On the whole, this conference is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for those interested in Indian healthcare, as it provides umpteen chances for collaboration and brand visibility. Apart from networking and partnership opportunities, there was a healthy exchange of knowledge as well, through seminars and panel discussions. With majority of the startups providing services that fulfill requirements of patients with a few clicks, it can be inferred that IT and healthcare will soon be inseparable. The presence of IT startups in the exhibition, looking for fruitful collaborations with medical firms, further suggests that industries, in the modern day well-connected global village, can no longer afford to isolate themselves.