• 13 December 2007
  • News
  • By Jahanara Parveen

Winners of BioSpectrum Awards 2007

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Members of the jury: Abraham E Mathew, Dr KK Narayanan, M Ramasami, Dr Villoo Morawalla-Patell, Dr Satish D Ravetkar, Dr Radhakrishna Pillai and N Suresh.

Fifth BioSpectrum Awards

Come December and it's time for the annual BioSpectrum biotech industry awards. BioSpectrum Awards were started in 2003. The objective was to recognize the outstanding contributors to the biotech sector in the country and honor them. There were four key awards-Person of the Year, Life Time Achievement, Entrepreneur of the Year, and Product of the Year. These awards were selected by a panel of eminent people, who came from various backgrounds, and represented diverse sections of the industry. The panel had the power to nominate or introduce any special category of award. And the 2003 panel unanimously decided in favor of BioSpectrum State of the Year under the special category of awards.

Ever since, BioSpectrum Awards have grown encompassing not only people, products, and states, but also companies. While the jury decides on the awards for the Person of the Year, Life Time Achievement, Entrepreneur of the Year, Product of the Year, and the special category award, the awards under the Companies of the Year category are decided by BioSpectrum. The winners of this category of awards are chosen on the basis of the "BioSpectrum-ABLE Survey of the Biotech Industry". The top ranked companies (by revenues) in each of the sectors are the winners.

BioSpectrum Awards 2007 jury and deliberations

The process started with the constitution of the panel in the last week of September and having preliminary discussions on the nominations and criteria for BioSpectrum 2007 Awards selection. This was followed by the members of the jury meeting in Bangalore on October 16, 2007 for making the final choice.

M Ramasami, managing director, Rasi Seeds, by virtue of being the BioSpectrum Person of the Year in 2006, chaired the jury, a practice that BioSpectrum has been following. The other members of the jury included:
Dr Villoo Morawalla-Patell, CEO and founder, Avesthagen and the BioSpectrum Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006; Dr M Radhakrishna Pillai, director, Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology, Trivandrum, Kerala; Dr Satish D Ravetkar, senior director, Serum Institute, Pune; and Dr KK Narayanan, managing director, Metahelix Life Science, and president, ABLE. Abraham E Mathew (Chief Editor) and N Suresh (Group Editor) were the BioSpectrum representatives on the panel. Dinesh Sharma, secretary, Technology Development Board and Utkarsh Palnitkar, partner and industry leader, health sciences, Ernst & Young, and Shyam Malhotra, Editor-in-Chief, BioSpectrum, shared their views to the jury chair as they were not able to be present in person during the jury meeting in Bangalore.

The jury's task was to select the awardees for the Life Time Achievement Award, Person of the Year Award, Entrepreneur of the Year Award and Product of the Year Award and special awards if any. The jury went through a process of trying to understand and interpret the criteria for selecting winners and the winner of each award was selected according to the stated terms of the particular award. There was an open discussion and debate about who fits the bill. While some of the awards were relatively straightforward to select, some were not so easy.

The most emotionally and intellectually charged debate was over the Life Time Achievement Award. Dr Pushpa Mittra Bhargava, former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) was chosen as the winner for this award for his bold contribution to the development of life sciences. "Dr PM Bhargava has done an enormous job of building CCMB as one of the most well known biotech research centers globally. We should recognize the pioneering work of Dr Bhargava," said Dr Villoo. He is an institution builder and has the sense of responsibility and the sense of purpose, she added.

Varaprasad Reddy, managing director, Shantha Biotechnics was chosen as the Person of the Year for being a pioneer, starting the biotech wave, making a societal impact by launching life saving vaccines and therapeutics at affordable cost. Shantha Biotechnics was the first company to produce India's first genetically engineered product Shanvac-B, a vaccine against dreaded infection Hepatitis-B. Dr Varaprasad Reddy is a very active person. "The company came from his heart. The company today has the capacity to partner with big MNCs," Dr Narayanan noted. Apart from several national and international awards, Dr Varaprasad Reddy has also been honored with the prestigious National Award "Padma Bhushan" by the Government of India in the year 2005.

Dr Vijay Chandru, managing director, Strand Life Sciences was chosen as the Entrepreneur of the Year. He is an academician-turned-entrepreneur and a co-founder of Strand Life Sciences. As a co-inventor of the Simputer, a novel hand-held computer, he was also a co-founder of PicoPeta Simputers that was acquired by Geodesic Information Systems in 2006. He also co-founded the Association of Biotech led Enterprises (ABLE) and continues to serve as an executive council member. "Vijay Chandru is into both academics and industry. He has not only set a new trend, but also created a new benchmark" remarked Dr SD Ravetkar.

The discussions on the Product of the Year Award uncovered many important insights. Biocon's BIOMAb EGFR, a therapeutic monoclonal antibody-based drug for treating solid tumours of epithelial origin, such as head and neck cancers was chosen as the winner. "The drug is the first of its kind to be clinically developed in India and is the first anti-EGFR humanized monoclonal antibody for cancer to be made available commercially anywhere in the world. The product has shown consistent response in clinical trials initiated both in India and globally," observed Dr Radhakrishna Pillai.

Coming to the special category awards, the jury decided in favor of an award for the State of the Year. And Gujarat was unanimously chosen as the winner of the Biotech State of the Year for its impressive strides in biotech. "The progress made by Gujarat is tremendous. The state has been attracting a lot of investments and the government is proactively promoting biotechnology in the state," said Abraham Mathew, Chief Editor, BioSpectrum. There has been tremendous effort from the government which is not seen in any other state, others added.

The jury chair, M Ramasami, guided the entire process of arriving at unanimous decisions. The chairperson notified each winner of the selection and the winners have agreed to accept the awards.

The winners of BioSpectrum Awards 2007 would be honored on December 21, 2007 at a function at The Leela Palace Kempinski Bangalore. Bio-Rad is the principal sponsor for the Awards Nite, while Godrej Interio and Oxford Institute have come forward to be the associate sponsors. Bangalore-based Acharya Institute is the knowledge partner and Amity is the academic partner.

Jahanara Parveen

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