Swiss contract research organisation Psi has set up a unit in Bangalore, India, to tap into the region's emerging clinical research sector.

The privately-held CRO said the move was in response to client demand and that the Bangalore based would serve as "the hub for continuous expansion into the entire Asia-Pacific region".

Psi also said it has appointed Dr. Radhika Bobba, a medical doctor with 18 years of pharma and CRO industry experience, as its regional director for India and the Far East.

"This expansion is already showing tangible results in strengthening PSI's unique ability to deliver high quality on-time clinical studies world-wide," said Bobba.

Psi offers Phase I through IV clinical trial services, including project management, feasibility studies, regulatory affairs, data management, clinical monitoring, safety reporting, biostatistics, quality assurance and medical affairs.

The CRO has been on an expansive path of late, opening a facility in Pretoria, South Africa, last month that once again was billed as a springboard for regional growth.

Last year it expanded its Latin American operations in Buenos Aires and added a third North American office in San Francisco, and has also added facilities in the Middle East and Eastern Europe whilst boosting its headcount to more than 1,300 staff.

Psi's Indian move comes at a time when the clinical research sector in the country is at something of a crossroads. After several years of strong growth, Indian CROs are feeling the effects of competition from rivals in China, Korea and Singapore, while regulatory factors - including relatively long approval times for trials - have also had an impact.

A KPMG report last year indicated that India's market share of the CRO sector was around 2.2%, compared to 2.8% for China, and suffered a near-10% contraction in 2009 that has not yet been restored. At the same time China grew 15%.

Frost & Sullivan has predicted that India's CRO market will expand from $485 million in 2010-11 to more than $1 billion in 2016.