The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Biocon eye on Bengal talent
Calcutta has a good talent base. It has excellent human resource in areas of life science and chemistry
— Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Calcutta, March 13: Having got on the country’s IT map, Bengal may now make its mark in another frontier knowledge-based industry: biotech.

Biocon, India’s leading bio-pharmaceutical company, is considering setting up its new research and development centre in Calcutta.

Although the company will look also at Chennai and Hyderabad, it says Calcutta is very high on its list of probable locations because of the city’s intellectual capital.

“Calcutta has a good talent base. It has excellent human resource in areas of life sciences and chemistry which we look for,” Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon, told The Telegraph over the phone from Bangalore.

Biocon is based in Bangalore, but the creaking infrastructure in the Karnataka capital has prompted the company to look at other cities for its next phase of expansion.

If Biocon chooses Calcutta, “its project could be a showcase for the entire state and help attract more companies and entrepreneurs here,” an industry observer said.

To the world, Biocon is the face of Indian biotechnology like Infosys is the torch-bearer of the country’s IT prowess.

The state government has long been trying to attract investments in both sectors. But though it has got IT majors like Wipro, TCS, Satyam and IBM to set up shop in Bengal ' and Infosys, too, is warming up to the idea ' it has so far failed to lure any of the big names in biotech.

Biocon is looking at a Rs 20-crore investment in the first phase, but this will go up as the company expands.

“The R&D will focus on the molecular biology area,” Mazumdar-Shaw said. To underscore the state’s rich talent base, she cited the large number of scientists from Bengal working for Biocon in Bangalore.

The company hasn’t yet got into touch with the state government; it’s waiting for its board to approve the expansion plan and location.

Headed by Mazumdar-Shaw, who became the richest woman in India when the company hit the stock market in 2004, Biocon now employs 2,000 people. It clocked a turnover of Rs 728 crore in the last financial year.

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