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Successful Indian Women Entrepreneurs in Biotechnology

Successful Indian Women Entrepreneurs in Biotechnology
Successful Indian Women Entrepreneurs in Biotechnology

Over the last 100 years, Indian women have had a significant presence in the fields of science, technology, and entrepreneurship. Anandi bai Joshee was the first Indian woman to receive a medical doctorate degree in 1885, Janaki Ammal was the first Indian woman to earn a doctorate in basic science in 1931, and Asima Chatterjee was the first Indian woman to get a doctorate of science from an Indian university in 1944. These inspiring women have created a firm foundation for Indian women in the field of science. In recent years, “Women Empowerment through the Government” has received a lot of attention.

It takes a lot of hard work and determination to start or get into a business. Every entrepreneur, however, must begin somewhere. There is no magic spell for launching a successful business. Business, on the other hand, is free of bias. It makes no difference when or where you begin your adventure. This is exemplified by some Indian female entrepreneurs on whom we are going to talk about. You will succeed if you are good. Though it can take years to get to a point where you are satisfied. We frequently seek inspiration and advice from our favorite Indian women entrepreneurs.

Take a peek at some of India’s most successful women entrepreneurs in the field of Biotechnology below!

  1. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw 
  2. Dr. Florida Tilton
  3. Suchitra Ella
  4. Dr. Renu Swarup
  5. Dr.Sharmilee Mane

1. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw 

She is an Indian woman entrepreneur, chairman, and managing director of Biocon India Group. She is one of the richest ladies in India who made her fortune on her own. She headed a pioneering firm that used India’s native scientific ability to produce clinical research advances. To follow in her father’s footsteps, she went to Melbourne to learn the brewing process.

Struggles during the journey of becoming a woman entrepreneur

In 1975, upon returning to India after learning about brewing in Melbourne, she was advised that she could not be hired as a master brewer in India because “it’s a man’s work”, so she worked as a consultant for a few years, before meeting Leslie Auchincloss, the proprietor of Biocon Biochemicals in Ireland.

Auchincloss took Mazumdar-Shaw on as a partner in a new business, Biocon India, which began in 1978 and produced enzymes for alcoholic beverages, paper, and other products, after being impressed by her passion and ambition.

With an initial capital of Rs. 10,000, she founded Biocon India in the garage of her leased Bengaluru home in 1978. Despite the fact that it was a joint venture, Indian law only allowed foreign ownership of 30% of the company, meaning Kiran owned 70% of the corporation.


Within a year, Biocon had become the first Indian business to sell enzymes to the United States and Europe, but Mazumdar-Shaw continued to endure scepticism and discrimination and hence the progress of the company was hampering.

Despite this, the company began to make money in 1989. Biocon was the first Indian business to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to manufacture a cholesterol-lowering chemical in 2001. Thereafter, the company grew at an incredible rate. Profits increased by more than 42 percent in just one year, in 2003.

She led Biocon’s transformation from an industrial enzyme manufacturer to a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company. She was also awarded the Padma Bhushan Award in 2005 for her pioneering work in industrial biotechnology, which is one of India’s highest civilian accolades.

2. Dr. Florida Tilton

Dr. Florida is a first-generation entrepreneur who has worked in the biotechnology industry for over a decade. She is a pioneering business visionary who has been involved in the biotechnology field for a long time. Molecular Research, Herbal Sciences, Radioisotope supported Genomic Considerations, Plant tissue culture, Genome evaluation, Plant Genetic Upgrade, Molecular Oncology, and Bioinformatics are some of her research specialties. She is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Biozone Research Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a private company based in India.

A move into the business world

She founded the Department of Biotechnology at Hindustan College of Arts and Science in Chennai, which she led for four years as a professor. While having a conversation with some of her students, she discovered a gap between academics and industries so she decided to resolve the situation by becoming an entrepreneur. She co-founded Biozone Research Technologies with two of her former students in 2008, which marked the start of her business career. Over time, the company has evolved into a biosciences research firm that offers technical and analytical services as well as publishing solutions.


As a life sciences company, Dr. Tilton had to contend with the need for large capital investment to build up facilities and to increase the productivity of the company. She also had to work hard to create enough credibility and acquire the trust of potential clients in order for them to outsource their research work to her firm.


SynkroMax Biotech Private Limited, Central Leather Research Institute (CSIR), Asthagiri Foundation, Lifeline Hospitals, and Hindustan Unilever are among the important academic institutions, organizations, and research laboratories with which the company has collaborated throughout the years. They also get recognition from the Government of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

3. Suchitra Ella

She is the joint managing director and co-founder of Bharat Biotech, International Limited, a multinational biotechnological company of India and its headquarters is located in Hyderabad. She is a scientist and entrepreneur who has manufactured and developed the first COVID vaccine, Covaxin, which has proven to be a lifesaver, along with the Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Virology. It was successful on the different variants of Coronavirus. At Bharat Biotech, she is a strong pillar of support and leadership, overseeing a wide spectrum of operations.

Journey of becoming a successful entrepreneur

She always wanted to be an entrepreneur since she was a child. So, in order to make her and her husband’s ambition a reality, they founded a company with the goal of producing vaccinations at a low cost. They put up a total of Rs. 12.5 crore and worked extremely hard to establish their company, from locating land to obtaining government approvals. They had a lot of financial challenges when they originally started the company, and it took over three years to launch their first product.

Now, this firm is deeply engaged in the development of drugs and their discovery, vaccines manufacturing, biotherapeutics, pharmaceuticals, and a variety of health care products. It created a big sensation in the vaccination world for a long time with remarkable vaccines against Hepatitis B, flu, Zika virus, and so on. The world’s first tetanus-toxoid conjugated typhoid vaccine was created by her firm and distributed worldwide. They also manufactured the COVID vaccine i.e. Covaxin along with ICMR. Today, her company is one of the leading pharma companies in India.


  1. She was nominated as the Founding Chairwomen of the Indian Women Network of CII, which provides a platform to women where they come, gather, and discuss their issues.
  2. With the aid of her firm, they provided one billion doses of Covaxin to the Indian Government.
  3. This COVID vaccine was also approved by WHO and it was provided to foreign countries also.
  4. According to her, her company manufactured a mercury-free vaccine for Hepatitis B and the vaccines they manufactured are 99% chemical-free.
  5. She and her husband Dr. Krishna Ella got Padma Bhushan on the 73rd Republic Day.

4. Dr. Renu Swarup

She is an Indian scientist and former Secretary of the Government of India, having previously led the Ministry of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology (DBT). Now, she has been appointed as a Secretary, Department of Science and Technology for two years or until the age of retirement.

She is also the Chairperson of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Company established by the Government of India to support research and innovation in the biotechnology industry, with a special focus on start-ups and SMEs. She played a key role in the development of India’s Biotechnology Vision and Strategy. She is credited for the establishment of the Microbiological Culture Collection, India’s largest microbial resource centre.


She offers a wealth of experience and knowledge to our objective to combat antimicrobial resistance in low- and middle-income nations. She was in charge of putting the DBT’sBioCARe (Biotechnology Career Advancement for Women Scientists) Scheme into action. Besides that, in the fields of bioresource development, energy biosciences, and management, Bioprospecting, Plant Biotechnology, Tissue Culture, and other related disciplines she has been in charge of project creation, granting, and management.

To convert India’s Biotechnology Vision into reality BIRAC has taken several steps:

  1. They assist students in improving their abilities and starting their own businesses.
  2. For this, University Innovation Clusters (UIC) has been established at Anna University, Chennai, TNAU, Coimbatore, Rajasthan University, Jaipur, Punjab University, Chandigarh, and University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad by BIRAC, a DBT public sector undertaking.
  3. Students and researchers will be encouraged to become entrepreneurs by innovation clusters, which are supposed to generate a lively ecosystem that will seed, foster, and nourish creativity in them.
  4. Then, UICs will identify young students in the post-and master’s post-doctoral stages and provide professional mentorship and support to become an entrepreneur. They will be given a three-year pre-incubation space and innovation grant to take this idea from discovery to proof of concept.
  5. In addition to an innovation grant of Rs.5 lakhs per year per student at each UIC, BIRAC is also giving Innovation Fellowships for four post-M.Sc. fellows (Rs.30,000 per month for three years) and two post-doctoral fellows (Rs.50,000 per month for three years). Every year, students at the post-level master’s are recognised for their creativity.


  1. She received National Entrepreneurship Award in 2017 for her pioneering work in the field of Biotechnology and towards India’s Biotechnology Vision and Strategy.
  2. The National Centre for Cell Science has named a recently discovered microbial species Natrialbaswarupiae in her honour to recognise her contributions to microbial diversity research in India and to simplify the provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

5. Dr. Sharmilee Mane

She was graduated from the Institute of Chemical Technology with a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology engineering and a master’s degree in bioprocess technology. She received a full government grant from Curtin University in Australia to complete her research and PhD in Chemical Engineering. She worked in secondary agriculture and agro-processing for seven years and has seven years of research experience.

She has written six scientific papers, participated in 13 international conferences, and she has two international patents also. For her research, she has received numerous international honours and grants. Curtin University and Engineers Australia recognised her creative PhD dissertation in secondary agricultural development and awarded her with the “Research Excellence Award” and the “Curtin Commercial Innovation Award.”

Her Venture

PureMe Organics, a venture, was formed with the goal of developing scalable technology for jaggery manufacture from sugarcane and other plant sources, with the goal of benefiting small farmers at the grass-root level through Agrotech commercialization. She has researched and produced an innovative line of Jaggery-based products that are natural, organic, and sustainable, using sugarcane and alternative agriculture sources. Her goal is to redefine sweetness in such a way that it is both healthy to consume and cheap for everyone. They focus on rural farmer empowerment at PureMe Organics and Y D Mane Research Centre, not just through technical help through our Research Centre, but also through other means such as providing financial empowerment to them by sharing the profit.


The Ministry of Food Processing and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare have both endorsed her start-up.


Women are taking the lead in today’s workplace. We can learn a lot from them. Businesses and endeavors are more than just a source of profit. They prove that gender is not an impediment to achievement.

Author – Pooja Agarwal, M.Sc. Biotechnology
Author – Pooja Agarwal, M.Sc. Biotechnology