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Eve of Modi-Boris Summit: SII to invest GBP 240 mn in UK, others too

Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: Amid the second wave of Covid-19, the world’s top vaccine maker Serum Institute of India (SII) is all set to invest Great British Pounds-Sterling (GBPs) 240 million (Rs. 2456 crores) in the United Kingdom to expand its vaccine business and set up a new sales office.

On the eve of a virtual Summit between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday, Downing Street announced it as part of plans for a GBP 1 billion India-UK Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) that would create around 6,500 jobs in Britain, media reported on Tuesday.

The British PM’s India visits have been put off at least twice in the last few months due to the pandemic. Johnson is expected to host Modi and other world leaders during the G-7 Summit scheduled to take place in London in June.

The Pune-based SII is among a list of nearly 20 Indian companies across sectors such as healthcare, biotech, and software services to announce significant investment plans in the UK. SII has started phase one trials in the UK of a single-dose nasal vaccine against coronavirus, in partnership with Codagenix INC, it said.

In India, SII is a licensed manufacturer of the Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield, developed jointly by the UK’s University of Oxford and pharmaceutical major AstraZeneca.

Its new sales office is expected to generate new business worth over USD 1 billion, of which GBP 200 million will be invested into the UK, Downing Street said on Monday in reference to the company’s plans for the UK market.

SII’s investment will support clinical trials, research and development, and possibly the manufacturing of vaccines. This will help the UK and the world to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and other deadly diseases.

In the field of healthcare, another Indian investment highlight includes GBP 59 million by biotech firm Global Gene Corp over the next five years. It will create 110 highly skilled jobs in the UK, mostly based in the R&D center at Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge, which is the site of the Human Genome Project.

“I’m very pleased that Global Gene Corp has decided to join the legions of Indian companies investing in the UK, boosting our healthcare sector and driving economic growth”, said PM Johnson in a statement.

Sumit Jamuar, Chairman and CEO of Global Gene Corp, said the investment’s objective is to make an exponential leap into the healthcare of the future through genomics, from discovering the next generation of drugs to precision medicine, a task “even more critical” in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK is at the forefront of the genomics revolution with her Genome UK strategy. “We are delighted to be investing in cutting-edge capabilities at the intersection of genomics and machine learning to achieve our vision”, he said.

Invest India CEO Deepak Bagla said, in line with PM Modi’s vision of Ayushmaan Bharat and National Healthcare Mission, “we truly believe that the genomic revolution will have an impact on the lives of billions. Global Gene Corp will make this revolution a reality”.

Among other Indian investments announced on Monday are Q-Rich Creations at GBP 54 million; Wipro at GBP 16 million; I2 Agro at GBP 30 million; and Sterlite Technologies at GBP 15 million.

Downing Street said the announcement of over 6,500 additional UK jobs and GBP 1 billion of new trade with India is based on company commitments and estimates from the UK-India exports and investments following extensive engagement from the Department for International Trade officials.

An ETP between India and the UK, which will be signed during the virtual Summit, also covers around 20 export deals clinched by British firms.

 

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