"Services such as discovery to early phase development will be driven primarily by the biotech players, which is where innovators are crowding in. The uptake of the biotech sector is a very important trend in the market. Our entire discovery business has been built around biotechs for the last 20 years, so we could say we are benefiting from this trend. However, mid-stage and late-stage development continue to be primarily pharma driven"

Krishna Kanumuri

CEO, SAI LIFE SCIENCES

April 21, 2020

Sai Life Sciences has been in existence for two decades now. What are some of the milestones that have marked the company’s development?

Over the past two decades, we have supported several innovator pharma and biotech customers discover, develop and manufacture innovative new medicines, and make the lives of patients better.

Sai Life Sciences is today one of the fastest growing contract research and manufacturing organizations. Over the past five to six years, we have grown consistently at CAGR of 15%. This is equally divided into three main segments, namely discovery, clinical development and commercial manufacturing. Today, we focus on contract research and development, as well as manufacturing. We are on an upward growth trend, as illustrated by our clients, who include seven out of the top 10 pharma companies in the world. Our focus is entirely international, with the US, Europe and Japan as the three main markets. 

Backed by our investors TPG Capital and HBM Partners, we are making significant investments in augmenting our R&D and manufacturing capabilities. The next 20 years promise to be even more exciting!

Do you expect new markets will become attractive over time?

Currently, we are only focusing on these three markets, which offer huge potential for growth. We aim to deepen our connections in these markets by better integrating ourselves with the local ecosystem. To this end, we are setting up new labs in Boston, US and Manchester, UK. The Boston site, which focuses on in vitro biology including exploratory and innovative experiments, has already opened and will be fully operational by the fourth quarter of 2019. Our process R&D and kilo lab facility in Manchester, which aims to deliver early and late-phase projects for customers in EU and US, will be fully operational within the first quarter of 2020. More importantly, this move is at the core of our strategy to recruit the best of talent from around the world. These aspects considered, Sai Life Sciences no longer solely competes on a price advantage, but rather as a long-term partner and solution provider for our clients. 

How is quality implemented at Sai Life Sciences?

Sai Life Sciences’ core objective is to set benchmarks in two key aspects: quality and safety. 60% of our quality systems are online based, and hence paperless. The goal is to have paperless manufacturing by the end of the year. Our plants are almost fully automated and thus very well documented. Our technology is latest generation. However, the biggest aspect that sets us apart is the training that we provide to our employees. It is our priority to make sure the attitude to quality is ingrained closely with the people on the shop floor. Finally, we take safety very seriously as well. To put it differently, Sai Life Sciences is doing things above and beyond what any Indian CDMO is doing.

Sai Life Sciences’ clients range from large pharma companies to smaller biotech companies. What are the trends in the uptake of the biotech sector and what potential do you see in this space moving forward?

Services such as discovery to early phase development will be driven primarily by the biotech players, which is where innovators are crowding in. The uptake of the biotech sector is a very important trend in the market. Our entire discovery business has been built around biotechs for the last 20 years, so we could say we are benefiting from this trend. However, mid-stage and late-stage development continue to be primarily pharma driven.

One of the targets of Sai Life Sciences is to bring 25 new medicines to life by 2025. How feasible is this goal as we speak?

We have already launched 16 molecules, and another 13 molecules are in phase 3, which means we are on track, and perhaps will reach the goal earlier.

Sai Life Sciences​​​​​​​ is committed to reducing green house emissions and increasing the percentage of women workers. Could you elaborate on the company’s alignment with social and environmental goals?

The reason why we have been able to achieve the scale we are at now, and sustain the growth we've experienced, is thanks to our long-term vision and our values, which we put above all else. We have stood by our commitment to integrity and transparency, publishing all data and making it available to public domain. Diversity is a very important part of our recruitment philosophy, and we seek to proactively build diversity, not only in terms of gender, but also in terms of regional representation. If we see too much of the same, we are concerned that we lose effectiveness as a company, which is why we choose not to be a bystander and take active steps to achieve our vision for the company.

What is your vision for the company’s development in five years?

Sai Life Sciences is amidst of a major transformation. Right now, we are playing with the big boys of global manufacturing. We used to be a niche player in the market and now, just to place our growth on a scale, over the period from 2016 to 2020, our company has quadrupled in capacity. This capacity, coupled with our proven track record and commitment to building long-term partnerships, will no doubt make Sai Life Sciences the partner of choice for large pharma and small biotechs in bringing new medicines to life.

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