Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: Shaping Biotechnology Sector In India

“My legacy is going to be in affordable healthcare. I am willing to invest in developing that model and the policies around it.” – Kiran Mazumdar Shaw 

As per the report of, India is currently among the top 12 biotechnology destinations worldwide and 3rd in the Asia-Pacific region. More than 600 biotech companies accelerate India’s growth in this sector, run by visionary minds like Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who profoundly influenced the biotech sector not only in India but also at the global level. Her story includes the challenges in the early stages of expanding Biocon worldwide.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is an Indian billionaire entrepreneur and Philanthropist. She is the founder and executive chairperson of Biocon Limited and Biocon Biologics Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India. Born on 23 March 1953, Kiran belongs to the Gujarati family and made her name in this industry with sheer hard work and perseverance.

Since her childhood, Kiran wanted to become a doctor but couldn’t get the scholarship. Being the daughter of Rasendra Mazumdar, head brewmaster at United Breweries, she decided to take the brewery course and topped her class. Kiran was educated at Bishop Cotton Girls High School. She graduated from Bangalore University with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology in 1968.

Career Highlights

Kiran started her career as a trainee brewer at Carlton and United Breweries, Melbourne. She also worked with Barett Brothers and Bruston, Australia, as a trainee master. After returning to India, Kiran joined Jupiter Breweries in Calcutta as a technical consultant and later worked as a technical manager at Standard Maltings Corporation in Baroda. 

The turning point in her life came when she looked for overseas work and met Leslie Auchincloss, founder of Biocon Biochemicals of Cork, Ireland. At that time, Leslie was searching for an Indian entrepreneur to assist in forming a subsidiary in India. It was a life-changing opportunity for Kiran as she began to work for Biocon with an initial investment of just INR 10,000 in a leased garage in Bangalore.

Her Journey In Biocon

Starting with Biocon in 1978, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw faced various challenges in her early days due to an untested business model. After getting her first funding, she started her first factory, 3000 sq. feet. Biocon produced extraction of papain and isinglass during the initial stages. At that time, Biocon was the first company in India to make enzymes and ship them to the United States and Europe.

With the mission of business expansion, Kiran invested her first year’s profits in buying a 20-acre property to expand ongoing operations. Through her innovative ideas and strategic thinking, she transformed Biocon from an enzyme manufacturing firm to a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company.

Expansion of Biocon

Kiran acted as the pillar in the expansion of Biocon as she managed to establish two subsidiaries of Biocon, including Syngene, in 1994 and Clinigene, in 2000. Syngene provides research and development services contractually, while Clingene focuses on the clinical research trail and development of generic and new medicines. She also incorporated Biocon Biopharmaceuticals Private Limited in 199o to manufacture and market a wide range of biotherapeutics.

Awards & Recognition

Kiran MazumdarShaw actively worked towards the success of Biocon from her early days and solving major challenges in the biotech sector in India. His dedication and never-give-up approach make him one of the promising leaders in the Biotechnology sector.

  • Recipient of Padma Shri(1989)
  • Recipient of Padma Bhushan(2005)
  • Othmer Gold Medal (2014)
  • Global Economy Prize for Business (2014)
  • Knight of the National Order of the French Legion of Honour (2016)
  • AWSM Award for Excellence(2017)
  • EY Entrepreneur of India(2019)
  • ICMR’s Lifetime Achievement Award(2019)
  • EY World Entrepreneur of the Year(2020)
  • Recipient of Order of Australia(2020)

Talking about Kiran MazumdarShaw’s board memberships, she is a member of the board of governors of the Indian School of Business. Kiran is also a term member of the board of MIT, USA. She is an independent director on the board of Infosys, a former member of IIT, Hyderabad, and the first woman to head the board of governors of IIM(Bangalore).

Kiran’s journey from working as a trainee brewer to leading Biocon as a female leader is truly inspirational. Her willingness to develop in-demand biopharmaceuticals and expand the business beyond borders is a great example of creating a fortune with hard work and willingness to grow by solving prominent problems in the industry.

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