Biocon was established as the initial capital in 1978 with Rs 10,000 (US$ 140).
Papain, an enzyme contained in papaya that is used to prevent beer from being hazy, was Biocon’s first product to go on the market. The company combined enzymes and supplied them to brewing, textiles, biofuels, animal feed, and other such industries around the world until 1983.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD of Biocon, joined Biocon in 1978.
Her biotechnology activities have gained global recognition both for the Indian industry and for Biocon, and The Economist has called her India’s Biotech Queen and The New York Times has named her India’s mother of innovation.
Centered not only on her contribution to the biotech industry but also because she gives back to society, she was recently listed among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential individuals in the world. Ms. Shaw appears on the Forbes list of ‘The 100 Most Influential Women in the World’ and on the ‘Top 50 Women in Industry’ list in the Financial Times’
Kiran completed her schooling and college from Bangalore’s Bishop Cotton Girl’s High School and Mount Carmel College, respectively, and was born to a Gujarati family in Bangalore. She graduated from Bangalore University in biology and zoology to enter medical school, but she, unfortunately, did not receive a scholarship.
The head brewmaster at United Breweries, Rasendra Mazumdar, her father, suggested that she study fermentation science and train to become a brewmaster. Mazumdar joined the Ballarat College of Advanced Education in Australia in 1974 to study Malting & Brewing without many choices and turned out to be the only woman who had enrolled in the brewing course.
Auchincloss’s Biocon was used for the processing of enzymes for use in the brewing, food packaging, and textile industries. Auchincloss had plans to develop its base in India during that period and was looking for an Indian entrepreneur for a subsidiary.
He approached her because, back then, Indian FDI laws were very strict and limited foreign ownership to 30 percent of the company. And, while it was a joint venture, Kiran Mazumdar owned 70 percent of the firm.
Kiran took up the role, but under one condition, if she did not wish to continue after six months, she would be guaranteed a brewmaster’s place similar to the one she was giving up.
She worked for a brief time as a trainee manager at Biocon Biochemicals Limited, of Cork, Ireland, to learn the business in-depth. Soon after returning to India, in 1978, Kiran started Biocon India with a seed capital of Rs. 10,000 (approximately 4 lakhs today) in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore.
In the early days, due to her youth, gender & her untested business model, she faced several obstacles such as credibility; Financing problems, because no bank wanted to lend her the money without a guarantor or guarantee and recruiting, was also a major problem for her because nobody wanted to work for a startup, her first employee was simply a retired garage mechanic.
Other than that, she also faced a variety of frustrating technical challenges, such as unstable infrastructure, electricity, poor water quality, unhygienic laboratories, low-quality research facilities, staff without advanced science skills, etc.
Yet she wasn’t giving up! Instead, Biocon India became the first company in India to be able to produce enzymes and export them to the United States and Europe within a year of its founding, overcoming all the challenges.
With the hope of potential growth, whatever the business received in the first year was used to buy a 20-acre farm.
Here are the important events that happened after the reign of Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw started-
- Soon after that, Kiran turned Biocon, a manufacturing business for industrial enzymes, into a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company, a company with a well-balanced product portfolio and diabetes, oncology, and auto-immune disease research focus.
- And finally, she started two subsidiaries as well: Syngene in 1994 and Clinigene in 2000.
- In 1987, ICICI Ventures’ Narayanan Vaghul (Industrial Credit and Investment Company of India) funded the development of a $250,000 venture capital fund. This is when the organization got a chance to greatly increase its research and development activities for the first time.
- Biocon became the first Indian biotech corporation in 1989 to receive support for proprietary technology from the United States.
- Unilever purchased Leslie Auchincloss’s Biocon Biochemicals of Ireland in 1989. This allowed the establishment of global best practices and quality systems by Biocon.
- In 1990, to develop and sell a select range of bio-therapeutics, Biocon Biopharmaceuticals Private Limited (BBLP) was incorporated.
- John Shaw, Kiran’s fiancé, personally raised $2 million in 1998 to buy the outstanding shares of Biocon from ICI because Unilever, a major shareholder, disagreed with Kiran’s decision to concentrate on biopharmaceuticals rather than enzymes. This made Biocon an autonomous body.
- Biocon became the world’s first company to produce human insulin on a Pichia expression device in 2003.
- Kiran listed Biocon on the stock market in 2004, after seeking advice from Narayana Murthy, to raise capital to be able to further expand Biocon’s research programs. It was the first IPO by a biotechnology company in India.
- By closing with a market cap of $1.11 billion, Biocon became the second Indian company to cross the $1 billion mark on the first day of listing.
- And soon after it went public; the company’s revenue went straight up from Rs. 70 crore in 1998 to Rs. 500 crore
- In 2004, Kiran started a wing of Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR) with a focus on health, education, and infrastructure at Biocon, the Biocon Foundation.
Biocon In Today’s Time
Today, Biocon Limited is a Bangalore-based biopharmaceutical company listed on the Bombay stock exchange that primarily manufactures and sells generic active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in the developed markets of the United States and Europe. It also produces biosimilar insulins and sells them as branded formulations domestically in India in both bulk and formulation forms.
Syngene International Limited (Syngene) offers personalized research in & of any drug discovery while their other wholly-owned subsidiary, Clinigene International Limited (Clinigene), is in full clinical development & research. Biocon has two subsidiaries Also, the presence of Biocon involves four primary therapeutic areas: diabetology, cardiology, nephrology, and oncology!
The net income of Biocon took a major leap and increased by 44 percent to INR 24,048 million due to several mergers & acquisitions, and profits increased by 215 percent to INR 2,933 million in 2009-10.
Biocon, including its two subsidiaries, Syngene & Clinigene, caters to clients from more than 75 countries and employs approximately 4,500 employees, including biologists, chemists, medical professionals, pharmacologists, engineers, analysts of finance/legal/marketing, HR generalists, and general administrators.