Techade REDEFINING FUTURE OF life sciences industry
Bio Spectrum|August 2021
Digital transformation is the topmost priority for global corporations and in a highly connected world that will remain largely contactless for an extended period, there are shifts in business models, customer experience, operations, and employee experience. With technology adoption accelerating across sectors, 2021 is likely to put the spotlight on the emergence of growth verticals in the life sciences sector namely healthcare, pharma, medical devices, diagnostics etc. India is now standing at the cusp of a re-imagined decade of technology, commonly being referred to as ‘Techade’. While we anticipate a significantly better global economic growth this year as compared to 2020, we are also very much looking forward to the enhancement being brought to the Indian life sciences industry as it continues its transformation journey in this redefined techade.
Dr Manbeena Chawla

At a time when global output is estimated to have shrunk by 3.2 per cent, led by the ongoing pandemic, the technology sector in India rallied around to grow at 2.3 per cent year on year on the back of rapid acceleration in digital transformation and tech adoption. COVID -19 has indeed accelerated digital adoption across industries and technology service providers are witnessing a sharp growth in digital deals.

According to the National Association of Software & Services Companies (NASSCOM), the consolidated revenues of top listed technology companies recorded a growth of 5.3 per cent in the second half (H2) of 2020 over the first half (H1) of 2020. Further, with an increase in focus on digital upskilling initiatives, revenue per employee grew at 5.5 per cent in H2 2020 as compared to H1 2020.

Sharing his views, U.B. Pravin Rao, Chairman, NASSCOM, Bengaluru, says “Resonating with the overarching call-to-action for Atmanirbhar Bharat, domestic digital adoption intensified in 2020. With an increased focus on innovation, India witnessed more than 115,000 tech patents filed by companies in India in the last 5 years. The technology industry witnessed 146 M&A deals in 2020, 90 per cent of which were digitally focused. Also, companies saw a significant rise of 80 per cent in cloud adoption in second-half of 2020 compared to the first half.”

Interestingly, as the technology industry looks forward to leaner structures with more flexibility and faster adoption of technology-based products and services in 2021, 60 per cent of the industry CEOs expect larger digitization deals in 2021. With hyperdigitisation and technology adoption accelerating across sectors, 2021 is likely to put the spotlight on the emergence of growth verticals in the life sciences sector namely healthcare, pharma, medical devices, diagnostics, etc. India is now standing at the cusp of a re-imagined decade of technology, commonly being referred to as ‘Techade’, with 2021 to redefine the life sciences industry narrative for the future.

As investment in digital continues to rise as an imperative for the industry, the future is calling for a stronger amalgamation of technology within the life sciences sector. The IT giants are taking multiple steps forward to provide solutions for addressing the major healthcare challenges and bottlenecks facing the country.

A recent example is that of Co-WIN platform, which is the first of its kind software in the world developed by leading IT experts in India to implement the world’s largest immunization campaign against COVID-19. It has enabled a transparent system to monitor each dose of vaccine supplied to vaccination facilities and record the fulfillment of demand at a grass-root level.

Strengthening the backbone

Ever since the pandemic has taken over the world in its grip, a number of technological advantages have been brought about by the IT industry to strengthen the backbone of the healthcare sector. To mention one, in particular, is the blockchain-based solution developed by Mumbai-headquartered Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to scale up COVID-19 testing.

TCS has deployed its dynamic digital supply chain platform that powers an ambitious new project called Indigenisation of Diagnostics (InDx) launched by Bengaluru-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) in association with the government to scale up indigenous COVID-19 diagnostic test-kit production capacity to a million test kits a day.

According to Dinanath Kholkar, Global Head – Analytics and Insights, TCS, Pune, “The TCS Data Marketplace solution is the lynchpin that anchors InDx’s supplier ecosystem of micro, small and medium enterprises, democratizing supplier data, enhancing supply chain visibility, and driving superior outcomes for all stakeholders including the government.”

Bengaluru headquartered IT company Wipro, through its joint venture with GE Healthcare (WGE), is also working with the government on developing new medical technologies. The company is investing about Rs 100 crore under the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for medical devices.

On the other hand, Bengaluru-based IT firm Infosys has recently developed a personalized medicine solution for the pharmaceutical industry. The solution leverages Systems Applications and Products (SAP)-based software to derive intelligent insights, enabling pharmaceutical companies to address critical business and regulatory requirements while delivering personalized experiences to patients.

“With the rapid growth in digital technologies and advances in biology, the personalized medicine market is projected to grow significantly, and we see a huge opportunity in this space. Digital technologies can help pharma companies accelerate their time to market and provide better patient experiences. Our Personalized Medicine Solution, leveraging SAP S/4HANA, will help ensure that traditional pharma companies are able to digitally transform themselves with minimum disruption”, says Subhro Mallik, Senior Vice President & Global Head of Life Sciences, Infosys, US.

Further demonstrating its commitment to innovate for its clients, and make a meaningful impact on human lives by combining cutting-edge technologies, Infosys has recently acquired a USbased MedTech company Kaleidoscope Innovation. Kaleidoscope designs microsurgical instruments, devices used in minimally invasive surgery, drug delivery devices for ophthalmic therapies, and usercentric wearables. It also offers usability testing in support of regulatory submissions, including the delivery mechanism for aortic stents.

Suresh Kumar

India Director, Life Sciences, Dassault Systemes, Bengaluru

Pharma/Biotech manufacturers still struggle to exploit the full potential of digitalization

Across life sciences, the need for digitalization has prevailed for years in India, despite being the second-largest contributor of the global biotech and pharmaceutical workforce. While we’re seeing progress in the adoption of digital technologies for business and manufacturing processes in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, manufacturers still struggle to exploit the full potential of digitalisation.

From an ongoing trend perspective - Digital Transformation, fueled by new-age innovations like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 3D Printing can lead to technology adoption in the sector. AI can facilitate repurposing of drugs, faster drug development, patient identification, better and insights from clinical trials data, predict the spread of the disease, etc. AI has been used to identify and screen existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat COVID-19, aid clinical trials, analyze trial data, and patient electronic medical records (EMRs). Similarly, 3D Printing of body parts are used in facial surgeries, limb surgeries, and others.

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