On the last night of 2019, nobody was expecting a new year like 2020 which is a year full of unknown challenges. The race to develop a covid vaccine has almost reached its last stage. Some vaccines are in the market and few are in the last stage of approval. Other than the vaccine, one more person is also in full demand. Without a doubt, the name of that person is Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India.
Serum Institute of India(SII), founded by Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla in 1966, is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines. Adar took over the company from his father in 2011 as CEO.
SII has left a positive mark on public health globally. Their main objective is to avail a vaccine for all at affordable prices. They mostly targeted the low/middle-income countries which were facing a big shortage of immunity booster, especially for children.
Beginning of Vaccine Giant
At the age of 25, Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla started Serum with an investment of $12000. Earlier Poonawalla were known for their family stud farm founded in 1946. Their horses have a world record 342 classics win.
At that time, the government-owned Haffkine institute in Mumbai produced different vaccines from horse serum. Poonawalla stud farm used to supply retired horses to that institute. Later, Dr. Cyrus started manufacturing those vaccines at a large level in their laboratory.
Tetanus Antitoxin was the first vaccine manufactured by the Poonawalla group in 1967. Serum was accredited to supply vaccines to UN agencies in 1980. It was a major breakthrough for SII.
Acquiring Bilthoven Biologicals from The Netherlands vaccine maker in 2012 was a strategic move to access technology and expertise for making the IPV (Injectable Polio Vaccine). In 2014-15, SII signed two different deals with Cipla where pediatric and Influenza vaccines were marketed by Cipla.
Under the leadership of Adar Poonawalla, Recently SII has signed an agreement with AstraZeneca and Oxford University to develop “Covishield” vaccine. They have also signed a similar contract with US vaccine firm Novavax.
In a year, SII produces and sells more than 1.5 billion doses of Polio, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccines. Their vaccines are being used in more than 170 countries. SII has a market share of 60% among vaccine manufacturers. In the last decade, the company’s fortune has increased 5 times to its older capacity. SII has acquired a few international and national companies strategically to enhance its technology and capacity. 65% of the world’s children take one or other vaccines manufactured by SII.
Fifteen years ago, one of their early achievements was bringing the cost reduction of hepatitis vaccine 15 times lower(30 cents) than the earlier cost($5).
On R&D, SII invests around 800-900 crores a year. This includes developing new vaccines and buying new technologies from the US and other places. It includes clinical trials as well.
As per Hurun research of the world’s richest persons, Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla(Chairman and Managing Director, SII) wealth has grown fastest among Indian billionaires and 5th fastest in the world in 2020. He is the sixth richest Indian. He also climbed 57 places to be the 86th richest person in the world during this pandemic era with a net wealth of $11.4 Billion.
On the other hand, Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India, is among six people named “Asians of the Year” by Singapore’s leading daily, The Straits Times for their work in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other Initiatives and Revenue
On September 10, 2019, SII launched the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing unit in Manjari, Pune. Manjari unit has the capacity to manufacture half a billion doses annually and will generate 3000 jobs in the next 5 years. More than 3000 crores invested in this Manjari unit.
In 2019, Poonawalla finance is a new venture started by Adar Poonawalla. Through this venture, salaried professionals and small businesses are being provided loans up to 30 lakhs. It has a current valuation of 1200 crores.
As per the financial express report on December 17, 2020, Adar Poonawalla-backed cleantech startup, h2e Power Systems, will be powering SII’s transition to renewable and green energy. Pune-based h2e Power is India’s first homegrown green hydrogen and fuel cell company. h2e is now working on the SII blueprint to achieve Net Zero status. Achieving a Net Zero state would mean a reduction of emissions from all sources to zero. h2e is founded by Siddharth R Mayur, Amarnath Chakradeo, and Bhavana S Mayur and incubated at IIT-SINE. Poonawalla invested in the company and acquired a 50% stake early this year and it is now a Poonawalla Group company. Soon, SII will produce the Green Vaccine.
The serum has net revenue of over 5000 crores and is expected to grow near 10000 crores by the year 2022. SII has plans to double its turnover in the next 5 years. Passion to help the less fortunate and to make other people’s lives better motivates Adar Poonawalla at his workplace.
SII still believes in making people’s lives better compared to focusing on economic growth. Free clean drinking water for villages around, sanitization, processing waste in the city, saving the environment. 250 trucks and machines for picking waste and recycling, producing methane from waste which is supplied to CNG pumps, free Schools, and free hospitals for the underprivileged in Pune are some of the major initiatives started by the Poonawalla group for making society better.
Free health insurance plans for the underprivileged, garbage waste to electricity production, and educating people for family planning are some of the initiatives they are planning to start in the coming years.