The start of the new year has seen a flurry of CRO activity in the Asia-Pacific Market, specifically in India.
Recently, Chiltern announced it opened a new process and technology center in Bangalore, India, to further support its analytics, risk-based optimization, biometrics and pharmacovigilance capabilities.
The CRO opened its first office in India more than a decade ago with five programmers. This expansion allows Chiltern to support more than 600 employees around India and provide more capacity as needed.
“This decision to expand further into India was based on our continued growth and our efforts to expand our global data capabilities to met the needs of our clients,” said Mark Penniston, president, Clinical Analytics, and general manager at Chiltern. As far as the India market is concerned, “Chiltern’s India growth has been due to our centers of excellence in analytical capabilities. While we do offer clinical services in India, this investment answers the growing global need for greater data and biostatistics, coupled with the increased complexity of trials.”
Penniston also pointed out that the process and technology center in India will increase Chiltern’s 24-hour global presence, allowing it to improve quality data and speed.
Another CRO, Accelsiors, announced the opening of a new office in Gurgaon, India. In a press release, the company noted that that the new facility will “provide our biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device customers with greater access to patient populations in an increasingly well-regulated environment.”
A third CRO, CROS NT, also recently expanded into India with the opening of a new office in Bangalore. This is the fourth global office established in the last six years by the company, which also has branches in Italy, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.
According to CROS NT CEO Andrew MacGarvey, the new office will initially offer statistical programming, data management pharmacovigilance and risk-based management services.
MacGarvey explained that there are two principle reasons CROS NT is moving into India.
“We’re finding—particularly from the biometric side—that the talent and skill sets we want to hire are now in India,” MacGarvey said. “It’s getting harder to find people in North America and Europe. The shift over the last several years of outsourcing certain tasks and procedures to India means that the training for those activities happens there and that the growth in the kind of talent we need is over there.”
MacGarvey pointed out that while companies may have originally moved into India as a cost-saving move, it resulted in the employment of large numbers of people in junior roles who are now reaching senior positions as the Indian CRO industry matures. In addition, he said, there were large numbers of people who went to Europe and the U.S. in order to pursue careers nearer the CRO world who are now returning to India with their acquired expertise.
“What you’re finding is that India has a large talent pool, and its niche talent with those rare certain skill sets you need in CROs—particularly on the biometric side,” he said. “So for us, [expanding into India] was a need to find good people.”
There was also a strategic imperative to moving into India, as well, since CROS NT is expanding its service offerings to include a full-service model that combines biometrics with clinical operations and monitoring.
“As usual, customer demand drives where we are going as a CRO,” MacGarvey said. “We’re in North America and we are in Europe. And we want to be in Asia-Pacific. We appreciated that we were going to need some kind of presence that was going to be more in line with the timezones of those countries.”
MacGarvey said CROS NT also looked at South America and China. “We haven’t ruled out those locations for later on, but India gave us the resources we need at the moment to grow the organization,” he said.
There are other benefits to moving into India, as well. MacGarvey said, “It extends our working day. We can open our day in India and close our doors in our North Carolina Office and we’re covering almost 24 hours, so it’s not a stretch to be able to offer 24-hour help to our customers. We have people with the right skillsets to do that.”
Being able to provide its customer base with that kind of access is important for CROS NT, particularly as the company investigates opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region. “As we start to talk to companies farther east, this gives us the ability to have strong people [in Bangalore] who can have technical conversations with customers in countries like Japan,” MacGarvey said. “It gives us the ability to start exploring this market more easily. Logistically, it’s nice to have that staging post [in Bangalore] and move into other countries as needed.”
While the reasons are varied, the CRO industry certainly has its eye on India.
This article was reprinted from Volume 21, Issue 05, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »