Thursday, March 22, 2007

India's biotech queen goes for global crown

BANGALORE, India (AFP) - When Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw founded Biocon India in 1978 with 10,000 rupees (225 dollars) and an office in a rented car garage, no banker was willing to give her a loan.

Back then, no one had heard of biotechnology, which uses micro-organisms such as bacteria or biological substances like enzymes to make drugs and synthetic hormones.

Women entrepreneurs were also rare and finding recruits willing to work under a female boss was difficult.

Mazumdar-Shaw, hailed in 2004 as India's richest woman with a personal fortune of 21 billion rupees, and Biocon, India's biggest biotech firm with 3,000 employees, have come a long way from the garage.

The businesswoman, who will turn 54 on Friday, is now setting her sights beyond the domestic market, despite the company's 29 percent annual growth rate, estimated to touch five billion dollars by 2010.

"I see myself and Biocon as being a biotech company in a leadership position on the global stage," Mazumdar-Shaw told AFP in an interview in Bangalore.

"We are on the right track to getting there," added the entrepreneur, who plans to double research spending every year to discover new drugs and enter the league of giants such as Amgen and Genentech.

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