In keeping with its strategic focus on expanding in Asia, Australia-based contract research organization (CRO) Novotech has entered into a joint venture with ETI Klinical, a CRO based in Bangalore, India, and part of the Karle Group.
Novotech already had, and will keep, its own office in Hyderabad, India. Together the two Indian offices have 25 employees. Novotech has 90 employees in its Australia office and five each in its New Zealand and South Korea offices.
“The joint venture essentially gives us full-scale operations in India, including regulatory, biometrics, clinical, etc.,” said Alek Safarian, president and CEO of Novotech, at IIR’s Partnerships with CROs conference in Orlando. “We treat our operations and those of ETI Klinical as one entity.”
According to a statement by Karle Group CEO Mahendra Karle, ETI offers clients of the joint venture 92 pre-qualified sites across India with access to five million patients and 13,000 beds.
Novotech is growing its existing presence in Asia and expanding into other Asian countries. The focus on expanding only in Asia- Pacific countries represents a shift in strategy for Novotech. A year ago, the company’s plans included looking at possibly acquiring a similarly sized CRO in the U.S. by the end of summer 2008. Its expansion plans have changed as the U.S. economy worsened.
“Our plans have shifted a bit during the last year in that our focus is now fully on going into Asia,” Safarian said. “We’re deemphasizing our operations growth into the U.S. That’s, in part, brought about by the whole financial crisis…there has been a very noticeably stronger shift toward Asia- Pacific for our business during the height of the financial crisis.”
Novotech is doing feasibility studies for further Asian expansion.
“Our plan is by the end of 2009 to open in one or possibly two new countries. We are looking at seven right now. My guess would be that at about mid-year, we will have taken our first steps toward that,” Safarian said.