Adar Poonawalla – The Vaccine Man of India, Chief Executive Officer – CEO of Serum Institute of India

Adar Poonawalla

Adar Poonawalla is an Indian Entrepreneur and the CEO (chief executive officer) of Serum Institute of India, one of the leading pharmaceuticals company and Vaccines & immuno-biologicals manufacturers.

His father Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla (Vaccine King of India) founded Serum Institute in 1966 and it is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer as of 2017. 

He is a board member of the GAVI Alliance, the global vaccine alliance. He initiated & launched Serum Institute’s oral polio vaccine.

Early life of Adar Poonawalla

Adar was born on 14th January 1981 in an educated Parsi family at Pune, Maharashtra, India. His father’s name is Cyrus Poonawalla & mother’s name is Villoo Poonawalla.

He completed his early school at Bishop’s school Pune, Maharashtra. After that, Adar went to St. Edmund’s School in Canterbury Kent, United Kingdom from where he completed his higher schooling. At last, he completed his graduation from University of Westminster, London.

Personal life of Adar Poonawalla

Adar married to Natasha in 2006. The couple have two children named Cyrus and Darius.

Entrepreneurial Journey

After completing graduation from the University of Westminster, London, Adar joined the Serum Institute of India in 2001.

In the year 2011, he became the CEO of Serum Institute. His father Cyrus Poonawalla founded the company in 1966. Now a days it is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced.

Adar concentrated on the company’s international market. He started exporting its product to 35 countries.

Adar Poonawalla
Adar Poonawalla

He started to take the licence qualified by WHO for supply to United Nations Agencies, UNICEF & PAHO. In 2015, he started to export his products to more than 140 countries with 85% revenue from overseas.

After becoming CEO of the Serum Institute in 2011, Adar Poonawalla played a major role the acquisition of Bilthoven Biologicals. That is a Netherlands-based government vaccine manufacturing company.

In 2014, Serum Institute’s oral polio vaccine became bestseller for the company. He planned to expand the product for dengue, flu and cervical cancer during the same year.

In 2016, Adar was listed as one of the 50 most influential young Indian entrepreneurs by the GQ Magazine and was awarded Philanthropist of the year.

Villoo Poonawalla Foundation

In 2011, he founded The Villoo Poonawalla foundation in the memory of his late mother Mrs. Villoo Poonawalla.

The foundation comprises of 6-schools, 1-hospital, 25-water plants at different locations, 250 trucks and machinery picking up and processing waste in and around the city of Pune. The focus of the foundation is Healthcare, Education, Water, Sanitation and the Environment.  

About Serum Institute

His company Serum Institute manufactures the Covishield vaccine for COVID-19. With an interview with ‘The Times’ he declared that he is leaving to London because of threats demanding COVID-19 vaccine.

Adar Poonawalla

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He is about to start the production of the vaccine outside the India in addition to the on-going project in India. Indian government provided him ‘Y’ category security.

Awards & Honours

  • He was listed by GQ Magazine and awarded Philanthropist of the year in 2016.
  • In 2017, he received Humanitarian Endeavour Award. In the same year, he received the award as Indian of the Year in CSR Business Category on CNN-News18. 
  • Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadanvis awarded him with ET Edge Maharashtra Achievers Awards of Business Leader of the Year. Again in the same year, he received CNBC Asia’s award for Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • He was included in a Fortune Magazine’s ’40 under 40’ listing in the healthcare category in 2020.
  • In March 2021, Economic Times have adjudged Poonawalla Entrepreneur of the Year for his unparalleled contribution in fighting Covid-19 by successfully supplying huge quantities of Covishield in India and globally.