• 12 December 2003
  • News
  • By N Suresh

BioSpectrum Awards 2003

BioSpectrum Awards 2003

The search for Biotech greats

The Chosen Ones
Life Time Achievement

Prof. MS Swaminathan

UNESCO chair in ecotechnology,

MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai and

President, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs

Person of the Year

Ms Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

CMD, Biocon India, Bangalore

Entrepreneur of the Year

Dr Krishna M Ella

CMD, Bharat Biotech International, Hyderabad

Product of the Year


By Strand Genomics, Bangalore

Special Category

State of the Year

Andhra Pradesh


Biotech is an emerging industry whose actual size was known accurately for the first time only in September 2003 when the first BioSpectrum-ABLE survey of India’s Top Biotech Companies was brought out. Now there will be another first for the Rs 2,300 crore ($ 400 million) industry. Yes. The First BioSpectrum Awards to honor the movers and shakers of this industry.

When did the idea to institute the first BioSpectrum Awards germinate? Not long ago. Even as the blueprint for the magazine was being put together exactly a year ago, in December 2002, there were a lot of internal discussions on how to play the role expected of the pioneering industry publication. Chief Editor E Abraham Mathew was very clear. BioSpectrum should not wait for long. It should honor the remarkable achievements of men and women who have given this industry the size and the shape and the platform for rapid future growth. He emphasized the importance of the similar role played by the sister publication DATAQUEST by instituting the annual IT Man of the Year in 1993 which has now become the most awaited event of the globally-talked about Indian IT sector. And the magazine will have the insights of the colleagues at CyberMedia who have pioneered the concept and taken it to lofty heights in a decade as the most coveted Awards for IT practitioners.

So the decision was made. Of course, the BioSpectrum team was very clear. We have to be politically correct. We have to be in tune with the modern times. And we have to mirror the realities of the biotechnology industry. So the first category was chosen. BioSpectrum Person of the Year, not ‘Man of the Year’ as is the case with most other awards. And then the Life Time Achievement Award. There was a lot of

debate about the third category: Entrepreneur of the Year. How is it different from the Person of the Year?

The two categories were clearly different. Editor-in-chief Shyam Malhotra delineated the two awards. A growing industry, at its early stage of development, requires the support of a number of key champions who need not necessarily be entrepreneurs. The policy makers, the venture capitalists, the technology champions, the role models who believe in the inherent strength of the biotechnology sector and the evangelists of biotech. The Person of the Year was the best way to recognize the contributions of such people. And the Entrepreneur of the Year could be a person who has taken his or her company to great heights in the most recent period with innovative products and technologies.

The two other award categories: BioSpectrum State of the Year and BioSpectrum Product of the Year were easy to decide. However, these were put in the special category for the moment to avoid choosing a few players among states again and again. Unless of course, all the 28 states and 6 Union territories push biotechnology to the forefront with innovative policies and practices.

Jury selection

As this was the first attempt, BioSpectrum team realized that almost every one in the industry would be a nominee for the awards in various categories. It was difficult to choose members who will have to face the embarrassment of having to sit out of the meeting room when their names were discussed. But there was a genuine biotech giant in Dr D Bala-subramanian who heads the research activities of the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad. Dr Balasubramanian graciously agreed to chair the BioSpectrum Awards Jury as he wanted to contribute even more to the growth of the biotechnology sector by associating with the efforts to honor the giants of the industry. Mr Utkarsh Palnitkar, director and head of life sciences practices of Ernst & Young readily agreed to be another jury member. BioSpectrum couldn’t have asked for more. At E&Y he has been having a ringside view of the biotech industry and also brings with him the global practices of the organization which has been honoring entrepreneurs for over a decade.

The Jury - From left to right: Abraham Mathew, chief editor of BioSpectrum, Utkarsh Palnitkar, director and head of life sciences practices, Ernst & Young, Dr D Balasubramanian, director research, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Shyam Malhotra, editor-in-chief, Cyber Media publications, and Nitin Deshmukh, the director-general of the Association of Biotechnology-Led Enterprises (ABLE), debating on each of the nominees, while N Suresh, executive editor, BioSpectrum, lends the research support.

In Mr Nitin Deshmukh, the director-general of the Association of Biotechnology-Led Enterprises (ABLE), BioSpectrum found another

able ally. ABLE is the new voice of the biotech industry. As one of India’s leading venture capitalist, Deshmukh has worked closely with the emerging industry for over a decade and continues to do so in his currently capacity. Editor-in-chief Mr Shyam Malhotra too was ready to transplant the experiences of his decade-long association with the DATAQUEST awards as one of its prime mover to the BioSpectrum Awards. And who better than Mr Abraham Mathew, chief editor of BioSpectrum, to make up the last slot on the jury to choose the first winners of BioSpectrum Awards. He has been the guiding force from the conception stage to the faultless execution of the awards project.

The jury met in Dr Bala-subramanian’s office in Hyderabad on 28th October. The BioSpectrum research team of Executive Editor N Suresh and Assistant Editor Srinivas Rao had prepared a sample set of guidelines and the background of all possible nominees. The BioSpectrum job ended there. For over three hours, the jury chairman Dr Balasubramanian brought the analytical abilities of other jury
members in a way only he could have done as one of the leading teacher, researcher and administrator this segment has seen. There were intensive debates on each of the nominees for four of the five awards.

For the remaining category, the Life Time Achievement Award, the jury did not take more than a minute to decide. As Dr Balasubramanian remarked during the meeting when the name was decided unanimously, " Prof. MS Swaminathan will actually be honoring this panel and the magazine if he accepts the award." Indeed he did, when the jury chairman personally met the Father of India’s Green Revolution and conveyed the news.

In the following pages, we present the achievements of three remarkable individuals, a state government led by a visionary political leader and his top notch team of bureaucrats and the burning desire of a team of academics who left security of their labs to create a world class software product that will be lapped by the biotech industry worldwide.

N Suresh

BioSpectrum Awards 2003 parameters
Life Time Achievement

1. Path-breaking activities and contributions in the past 3-4 decades

2. Contribution to the evolution of the industry

3. Inspirer/influencer/visionary role

Person of the Year

A. Organization Role

1. Performance of the organization in the last 12 months

2. Major projects undertaken in 2003

3. Global initiatives

B. Industry Building Role

1. Influence on the policy makers for the benefit of the industry

2. Fostering industry harmony and relationship building

3. Stature as a leader and visionary

Entrepreneur of the Year

1. Strategic steps that make the company stand out in the crowd in the last two years

2. Imaginative business plan (should have innovative products and services)

3. Results achieved

4. Ability to raise funds

5. Ability to attract talent

Product of the Year

1. Revenue consideration from the product

2. Uniqueness

3. Degree of difficulty in creating the product

4. Import substitution

5. Export potential

6. Price competitiveness

State of the Year

1. Investments made by government

2. Attracted investments

3. Number of companies established

4. Hand-on involvement of CM

5. Exclusive biotech Secretary and advisors

6. Biotech park

7. Policy/Incentives provided

8. Revenue generation



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