Himedia Laboratories – Pioneers Turning India Self-Reliant in Biosciences, A Dream into Reality, Since 1975
From discovering metals and sequencing them in the periodic table, to mapping the human genome, to developing genetic scissors for genome editing, humankind has made humungous developments with scientific knowledge, all driven by inquisitiveness and the pressing need to know why things happen the way they happen.
"The last century has taken shape with quite interesting turn of events pertaining to science. With renewed and keener observation patterns, scientists looked deeper into finding new ways for scientific discoveries and parallel technological applications, which could be put to use academically as well as commercially"Dr. Gangadhar M. Warke
Science has gifted mankind with many necessary developments through discoveries which led to positive changes in lifestyles, especially in the last century. One such vision of making India a self- reliable country within bioscience research and diagnostics shepherded Dr. Gangadhar Motiram Warke, a doctoral research student during the late '60s, on the pedestal of working towards turning that vision into reality.
The thought of manufacturing microbiology media in India remained stuck with Dr. Warke since the early days of his doctoral research, especially as he witnessed the monopoly of a few international players that sold all necessary media required for research or academic purposes at exorbitant rates.
With 'Make In India' dream in his mind, and a little logical cost analysis, he realized the manufacturing cost could be reduced significantly, which in turn would save time to prepare other tedious media. Thus, Dr. G. M. Warke set his foot forward to begin manufacturing microbiology media as a mission to support the Indian scientific/research fraternity, academic institutions and industries by providing culture media, which were both accessible and affordable in equal measure.
HiMedia Laboratories was established in 1975 with the principal motto to provide quality products at affordable prices. Today, Dr. Warke takes pride in being the pioneer in Indian Microbiology media manufacturing business. HiMedia designs tailor-made products for its customers as per requisite specifications for a wide market base, spanning across industries such as pharmaceuticals, food, dairy, environment, water testing as well as vaccines and also find significant space within academic institutions.
An expected result of the same was an expanded and trustworthy customer base over the years which is evident through the wide number of citations (more than 0.1 million as on Google scholar and, 2.5 million on Google) received at an international scale.
2020, so far, has been a year of equal parts challenges and equal parts success. The biggest success for Himedia Laboratories was being the largest supplier of best quality VTM (Viral Transport Medium) sample collection kits for COVID-19 testing. HiMedia alone has, till date, manufactured and sold almost 20 million VTM kits across the country.
Another addition to the list is successful development of ELISafe 19TM, a COVID-19 antibody detection kit, based on IgG ELISA, S1 protein of SARS-CoV-2 virus. This venture has been carried out in technical collaboration with Syngene International. Moreover, they have also developed COVIDSafeTM, a specialized Virus Inactivation Transport Medium (VITM).
MIC well strips were introduced this year, adding to their portfolio of MIC detection products, marking their venture into smart evaluation of MIC. Within AMR Molecular Diagnostics, they have successfully introduced the InstaNX Mag series, an extension to the RNA extraction platforms. Himedia Laboratories has been named among top 3 bio suppliers of India by BioSpectrum in 2019. In addition to numerous other global recognitions, the most rewarding for HiMedia was to find a place among top global players within the Swab Collection Kit Market of 2020.
"I would be lying if I said it was all cakewalk right from day one. The initial 100 days were most difficult since gaining approvals and obtaining requisite licences was a tough job and multiple rounds to government offices did not make things any easier. Additionally, receiving raw materials on credit was never an option for a newcomer for obvious reasons, which left us with just one option, i.e. making payments in cash for all materials" mentioned Dr. Warke.
Gaining the first client was first hurdle that awaited HiMedia since, fostering trustworthiness and reliability in a product from a fairly new company of Indian origin, against that of an imported product was a strenuous task
The only silver lining for HiMedia was their competitively priced, good quality products which gave them an advantage over highly-priced imported media. Striking gold experiences were difficult however; HiMedia has successfully been able to sail through them without any hiccups.
Being a bioscience company with a product portfolio that caters to essential services, paused production is not acceptable for HiMedia. Although in the initial weeks, they had to stop production of all other products and focus on mass production of the Viral Transport Media (VTM) Kits for COVID-19 sample collection and RNA extraction kits, required for detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Their VTM kit was developed in 2009, during the Swine Flu epidemic and until before COVID-19 outbreak, the number of VTM kits manufactured per year were merely 5 lakhs. However, due to pandemic, the demand of VTM test units soared to 5 lakhs per day, and, meeting those numbers was the biggest challenge for HiMedia. The microbiology giant maintained the course of the ship by putting in extra investments to procure additional machines, manufacturing aids, swabs and human resources
"All employees stepped forward to work towards one united cause i.e. helping the nation during this crisis. This was only possible due to the relations I share with my people and the trust employees have towards the organization" Dr. Warke asserted.
When it comes to strategizing HiMedia's business model, Dr. Warke's focus is to follow his 3 core principles of, product orientation by latest research and development, human interrelationship right from inception level and, awareness of social responsibility with a humane touch.
The position where HiMedia stands today, within the Bioscience industry, essentially originates from the constant development of products using their R&D and indigenous technology. Being a scientist himself, Research and Development has been a passion for Dr. Warke right from the inception of the company, and it continues to be a trend of prime importance and is followed by Genext with equal passion.
Accepting challenges and working towards overcoming them, HiMedia has always stepped forward during crisis. Be it introducing the Viral Transport Medium (VTM) during the Swine Flu epidemic, or molecular diagnostic kits and instruments to fight COVID-19, and most recently, collaborating with Syngene International for manufacturing ELISA kits.
With their motto of 'Serving Humankind', HiMedia Biosciences has always strived to pave the way for a decent and affordable lifestyle for fellow human beings. In pursuit of achieving this, they often partake in extending a helping hand. To empower the agriculture oriented nation, HiMedia has developed various environmental testing kits for soil, water and milk adulteration. They have commercially developed hydroponics, a soilless farming technology, which helps farmers grow crops of all kinds (both cash and food crops), under controlled environmental conditions.
In addition to their recently sponsored renovation of an entire food technology lab in Mumbai Institute of Chemical Technology, HiMedia has also set up Regenerative Medicine Research Centre as a Joint Venture between HiMedia Laboratories and Sir J. J Hospital, Mumbai; Autism Intervention Centre (AIC) namely, Paediatric Neuro Development Centre at Sion Hospital, Mumbai; and also donated a fully functional State-of-the-Art 'Skin Regeneration Laboratory' along with training modules, to the National Burns Centre, Mumbai. Ishavidya is an endeavour they support that works towards raising the level of education and literacy among underprivileged children.
"The first step, always, is giving credence to the belief that something is possible, only then, the probability of success would follow. As for HiMedia, I would say that our journey has just begun, and our success story so far can preferably be called pit- stops of milestones on the go. Owing to the fact that we aspire to become the global leader within bioscience, we still have a long way to go" shares Dr. Gangadhar Motiram Warke.