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April 23, 2001

Sami Labs to set up India’s first biotech incubator with seed capital for promising biotech entrepreneurs.


Bangalore based Sami Labs Limited, a global herbal research major and a 100 per cent EOU, will be shortly establishing a biotech incubator providing seed capital to enterprising scientists for setting up their facilities in Bangalore. This will be a boon to small startups which are not able to commence operations for want of funds.

Sami Labs, which manufacturers and markets plants extracts for pharmaceuticals intermediates, has allocated Rs.50 crore for these biotech activities besides other related drug development operations to produce probotics, an oil eating bacteria. The company has also identified a new molecule which increases skin permeability.

In an interview with Dr. Muhammed Majeed, Managing Director, Sami Labs said the current focus of the company was in nutraceuticals and biotechnology. "The incubator is expected to be set up in two year’s time. Unless the right kind of approach is charted out, the biotech start-ups will fail to take off in India," said Dr. Majeed, who also heads Sabinsa Corp., New Jersey, USA, which deals with manufacture and marketing of herbal extracts and is ranked among top 100 companies in USA.

In the wake of the biotech revolution in India and more so in Bangalore, Sami Labs is ready to take the risk of assisting biotech entrepreneurs, to give them the base and seed capital to take off, averred Dr. Majeed.

The incubator, according to Dr. Majeed, will be a gigantic facility and will help undertake advanced research and development activities. One of the main reasons to focus on R & D has been that India has a talented pool of scientists, he said. The incubator will be easier for companies to utilise the R & D set up. Another effort by the company is that it will give Indian scientists abroad, particularly from the US, an opportunity to return to India and do research in a state-of-the-art incubator, indicated Dr. Majeed.

The company will also enhance its successful biotech research activities which it commenced last year and is looking at drug development from natural products and at the same time looking at entering into herbal formulations in big way.

The other project on hand is the setting up of a 100-acre Research Demonstration Farm at a cost of around Rs.3 crore by the year end.

Presently, Sami Labs is in the advanced stage of discussions with major MNCs for strategic alliances in the areas of biotechnology and nurtaceuticals. The company recently tied up with Neeja Pharmaceuticals, Canada for the development of a new generation antibiotic which is awaiting patent clearance in India.

Sami Labs, set up in 1991, has been a pioneer in extracts. Some of these extracts are, Curcuminoids (turmeric) from which it developed a colourless substance for use in cosmetics, Garcinia Cambogia (hydro citiric acid from Kokum fruit to reduce fat deposits in the body), Boswellia Serrate and Gugulipid (for cholestrol reduction). The discoverty of these extracts won the company several national awards.

The company is also the largest produced of L-Selenomethionine worldwide, used as a micronutrient source with anti-tumorigenic potency. The product supplied by sami Labs going through a National Cancer Insitute, USA- sponsored clinical study of prostrate cancer.

Sami Labs registered a turnover of Rs.54 crore this year. By the year end it will register a turnover of Rs.80 crore and is on its way to becoming a Rs.100 crore enterprise next year.

The company has set up four state-of-the-art manufacturing plants in Karnataka at Singasandara, Kunigal, Mysore and at Nelamangala (biotechnology) at an investment cost of Rs.35 crore.

The company currently holds 17 patents – 10 of them pending – from the US, beside around 15 European and international patents for its range of extracts.

Nandita Vijay,