India: A Quad-led bio-manufacturing hub
Thu, 25 May 2023

India: A Quad-led bio-manufacturing hub

Exam View: QUAD’s Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group; Bio-manufacturing; India’s National Biotechnology Development Strategy; Concerns and Solutions.

Context: India is an ideal choice for a Quad-led bio-manufacturing hub because of its existing infrastructure, pharmaceutical manufacturing expertise, and workforce.


In March 2021, the Quad set up a Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group related to developments in critical and emerging technologies, that included biotechnology to

  • facilitate cooperation,
  • monitor trends, and
  • scout for opportunities.

Decoding the editorial


  • It uses living systems, particularly microorganisms and cell cultures, to produce molecules and materials on a commercial scale.
  • It has the potential to transform the global industrial system, with up to 60% of physical inputs to the global economy expected to be producible using this technology.
  • Many countries, including the United States and China have designed specific policies to shape their bio-economies.

India’s National Biotechnology Development Strategy:

  • It envisions the country as a “Global Bio-manufacturing Hub” by 2025.
  • The strategy sets a target of $100 billion for the hub.
  • However, India’s ambitions require external support, particularly through its Quad partners, to enable its initial development.
  • Complementary strengths:
    • The U.S. has significant funding capability.
    • Japan, Australia and the U.S. also possess advanced biotechnology innovation ecosystems and intellectual property.
    • India has
      • A skilled manpower,
      • The potential to provide affordable scale,
      • Economic potential,
      • Existing infrastructure, and
      • Pharmaceutical manufacturing expertise
    • According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, India is among the top performers in the field of bio-manufacturing in both the quality of research output and in the share among research publications.
    • India also has significant potential in low-cost bio-manufacturing, particularly in the production of enzymes, reagents, research materials, and equipment. According to at least one analysis, the cost of manufacturing in India is around 33% lower when compared to that in the U.S.

Concerns and Solutions

  • Strengthening physical infrastructure
    • Concern:
      • India plans to increase fermentation capacity tenfold to 10 million litres in the next three to five years.
      • China has also expressed its intention to capture this market, similar to how it dominated small-molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).
      • Concerns about China’s dominance in APIs pushed India to launch a production-linked incentive scheme that allocated $2 billion to the pharmaceutical sector to make biopharmaceuticals, APIs, key starting materials, and related products.
      • A dependence on China in the bio-manufacturing sector will be detrimental to both India and the Quad.
    • Resolution: The proposed bio-manufacturing hub in India can help
      • Facilitate technology transfer,
      • Connect investors, and
      • Establish a bio-manufacturing fund that is administered through the Quad, to support India’s efforts to reduce dependency on China.
    • Boosting workforce, lowering barriers
      • Concern: To scale up the bio-manufacturing sector, India needs to uplift its workforce quality.
      • Resolution:
        • Permanent training facilities can be established in universities around the Quad hub, with experts from other Quad countries providing the training.
        • Recent policy changes in India allow the establishment of foreign universities and can encourage scholar exchange programmes.
        • Training should also focus on commercialising research and development, a common challenge for non-U.S. countries in the Quad.
        • The bio-manufacturing hub can house all current bilateral government efforts and establish a research collaboration office for this purpose.
        • The hub can also harmonise language, regulations, and data-sharing regarding bio-manufacturing to secure supply chains for Quad nations and facilitate international collaboration.

The proposed hub in India can capitalise on the economic potential of the bio-manufacturing industry and address existing and potential vulnerabilities in the global system. India can become a leading player in the field of bio-manufacturing and help the Quad to compete in this key area.




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