INDIAN BIOTECH LOOKS TO SCANDINAVIA

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India has signed a science and biotech co-operation agreement with Sweden. Indian Science Minister Kapil Sibal reiterated his government's desire to see India emerge as major player in hi-tech industries such as biotechnology.

India can claim significant new resources in biotech. The International Biotech Park in Pune is scheduled to open in 2007-08, with 15 firms already set to establish units on the site. Vaccine production accounts for 40% of India's biotechnology industry – roughly INR10bn (US$229.73mn) – and is growing at 15% per year. India exported biotech products worth US$451mn in 2004.

Meanwhile, Sweden's biotechs have suffered as the government toughens laws on animal testing. Some major drugmakers have described the proposed legislation as "draconian" and are considering withdrawing from the country. Unsurprisingly, India has presented itself as an alternative destination for biotech investment. Many Western companies have already expanded clinical trials activity and drug discovery efforts in India as new development costs approach the US$1bn mark.

Further, India has recently agreed to collaborate on two biotech projects with Norway. The arrangement will seek to develop treatments targeting the prime causes of high infant mortality and infectious disease.