Adar Poonawalla: The Man Behind Serum Institute

About Serum Institute

The Serum Institute of India (SII) was established in 1966 by Cyrus Poonawalla, the father of Adar Poonawalla. Over time, it has become the leading vaccine manufacturer globally, producing and distributing the highest vaccine doses. The institute’s vaccines reach approximately 170 countries and are distributed through various programs affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Serum Institute of India (SII) commenced its journey to produce critical life-saving immuno-biologicals. These vaccines were scarce within the country and often had to be imported at considerably high costs. SII specializes in manufacturing vaccines such as the Polio vaccine and vaccines for Diphtheria, Tetanus, Measles, and various other crucial immunizations.

How it started

Cyrus Poonawalla, Adar’s father, established the Serum Institute of India in 1966 in response to the challenge of imported, costly, life-saving vaccines that were beyond the reach of most of India’s population.

Initially involved in horse breeding, Cyrus inherited and managed his family’s racehorse breeding farm. He discovered that horse serum was a crucial component in numerous vaccines, and retired horses from his farm were contributed to the state-owned Haffkine Institute to aid in vaccine production.

Observing the low immunization rates in India partly due to the expensive imported vaccines, Cyrus recognized the necessity for a change. At 25, he embarked on a mission to establish the Serum Institute of India.

The company’s inaugural product was the tetanus vaccine, introduced in 1967.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, producing and selling approximately 1.5 billion doses annually. By the conclusion of 2021, the company is set to ramp up its production to over 3 billion doses annually, with 1.5 billion allocated for COVID-19 vaccines.

Adar Poonawalla joined SII in 2001 after graduating from the University of Westminster in London. Tasked with expanding the company’s international market, he focused on securing licenses and pre-qualifications from the World Health Organization for new products facilitating their supply to UN agencies like UNICEF and PAHO.

As CEO in 2011, Adar assumed complete control of the company’s daily operations. He aimed to reduce vaccine prices, ensuring affordability for developing communities while spearheading innovation for new vaccines against preventable diseases. Under his leadership, SII broadened its reach, supplying life-saving vaccines to over 170 countries.

Adar remains committed to expanding SII’s capacities, especially in developing affordable vaccines for global outbreaks such as COVID-19, alongside vaccines for preventable diseases in low- and middle-income countries. During his tenure, SII produced over 280 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, expanding production continuously. Additionally, he oversaw the production of various new vaccines like Rotavirus and Pneumococcal.

Adar established Poonawalla Fincorp in 2019, a swiftly growing digital non-banking financial company headquartered in Pune, India.

Beyond Vaccines

Together with his wife Natasha, they established the Villoo Poonawalla Charitable Foundation in 2012, aiming to enhance lives through educational, healthcare, and environmental initiatives. In Pune, the foundation operates eight schools, educates over 10,000 children, and manages a charitable hospital. Furthermore, it addresses environmental issues by managing city waste and offering clean drinking water to the local populace.

Adar Poonawalla’s dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed, with numerous accolades received over the years. His contributions have been acknowledged nationally and internationally, from being named Fortune’s Greatest Leader in 2021 to receiving the Hurun National Icon of Philanthropy award in 2019.

As the CEO of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, Adar’s vision for the future is inspiring. The Serum Institute of India, supplying WHO-accredited vaccines to nearly 170 countries, is pivotal in safeguarding the world’s most vulnerable communities. His legacy is set to grow further, not just in business success but also in his commitment to philanthropy.

Adar Poonawalla’s leadership at SII has revolutionized global healthcare and generated significant wealth for his family, with an estimated collective wealth surpassing USD 16.6 billion. His efforts to ensure equitable vaccine access have positioned SII as a lifeline for countless communities, significantly impacting global health initiatives.

He has secured a place among India’s influential personalities, notably joining Fortune’s annual list of emerging leaders under 40 alongside notable figures like the Ambani twins. Prime Minister Modi appointed him as the Brand Ambassador for Swachh Bharat in 2017.

Serum Institute of India stock recommendation

The Serum Institute of India has achieved a remarkable milestone by surpassing the National Stock Exchange of India to become the most valuable unlisted company in the country. Lot of investors look at the company as a good stock recommendation.  Its valuation is Rs 1.9 lakh crore, as reported in the Hurun India 500 List for 2022 by Hurun India’s 2022 Burgundy Private. This achievement underscores the institute’s substantial growth, market dominance, and financial success despite not being publicly traded on stock exchanges .

What is the Serum Institute of India share price?

As the curiosity around the company heightened, people questioned the Serum Institute of India share price. As Serum Institute of India is privately held, its shares aren’t available for public purchase, and it’s not listed on the stock exchange. However, several other promising investment opportunities offer potential returns over the next few years.