It's a well-worn cliché that men dominate the top ranks of the biotech industry. But over the past decade, a lot of extraordinary women have put that cliché to the test. Dr. K. Rajeshwari, the Founder and Managing Director of Bioklone Biotech Private Limited, is one such inspiring story in the Indian biotech industry, whose progress is testament to the fact that women in any field can rise simply by virtue of their merit and professional drive. Scientist turned entrepreneur, Rajeshwari founded Bioklone and has seen it flourish to become one of the top antibody companies.
Dr. Rajeshwari obtained her Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, India in 1998. Subsequently, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, USA and a Visiting Fellow at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, India.
She has over 28 years of experience in the development of antibodies and assays. Having worked with several scientists before the inception of Bioklone, Rajeshwari has an in-depth understanding of the actual needs of the antibody users as well as the struggles and challenges of the end-users when the antibodies do not show desired results in their applications. Leveraging this knowledge, to ensure the success of the antibodies developed at Bioklone, Dr. Rajeshwari has designed a series of strategies to actively engage clients in the custom antibody development process, throughout the course of the project.
Dr. Rajeshwari has been a resource person for several Entrepreneurship development programs and has been a mentor for aspiring and start-up entrepreneurs.
USHERING A NEW DAWN IN CUSTOM ANTIBODY SERVICES
With the goal of providing reliable custom antibody services to Life science researchers, the industry veteran Dr. Rajeshwari laid the foundation of Bioklone in 2006. As a contract research organization, today Bioklone offers a variety of end-to-end services, including peptide designing, gene cloning, expression and purification of recombinant proteins, development of antibodies in rabbits, mice and chicken, antibody purification, labelling and fragmentation, development of recombinant antibodies, antibody-based assays and diagnostic kits and in vitro cytotoxicity/cell viability assays using cell-lines. Having carved its niche in the custom antibody market, Bioklone is now foraying into the development of human and humanized antibodies.
Bioklone has successfully completed over thirteen years in business while expanding its client base and service portfolio. The company's recognition as the "Best Custom Antibody Development Specialists – India" in Global Health and Pharma's Technology Awards 2019 is a milestone achievement for the company.
CLIENTS AND THE UNBREAKABLE FAITH
Bioklone has over 300 clients across various sectors including academia, R&D divisions of hospitals, and diagnostic and pharma companies in India and abroad. The company has successfully developed custom antibodies to over 1000 antigens including proteins, peptides, polysaccharides, drugs, small molecules, and whole cells. The biggest challenge in the antibody market is the suitability of a developed antibody in the end-user applications.
To ensure that its antibodies give the desired binding in the end-user applications, Bioklone focuses on a highly interactive approach that involves the transfer of data and test samples to the clients at specific milestones of the project. This allows clients to validate the antibodies in their applications before the closure of the project. This has been the primary reason behind Bioklone winning the confidence of its clients, for repeat orders and an increasing clientele.
THE TEAM AND CORPORATE ETHOS
The key to Bioklone's success is its scientific and innovative approach to the execution of all projects. This has been made possible by the experienced technical team at Bioklone, who pay attention to finer details and execute projects with unerring precision. The Bioklone team comprises undergraduates, post-graduates, and doctorates in Life Sciences. The team is scientifically sound and works with dedication and commitment.
The major contributing factors for the performance of Bioklone's team are the company's positive work ambience, backed by its state-of-the-art laboratory facilities including its well-equipped cell culture rooms and animal house.
THE SECRET FORMULA BEHIND THIS BIOTECH MAGNET'S ENDEAVOUR
An ambitious child since childhood, Rajeshwari always loved to be an achiever without being bogged down by failures. She strongly believes that her achievements have been possible because of the belief system instilled during her childhood. Rajeshwari's parents have played a very significant role in building her personality.
"Establishing a Biotechnology venture and running it for over thirteen years is quite challenging and would not have been possible without my supportive family. My children were quite flexible and adapted to my routine efficiently. Bioklone has been able to carve its niche in its market and this has been largely possible because of the dedicated team that has helped me realise my dreams, by strict adherence to my vision, values, and ethics. My mentors, Dr. Anjali Karande and Dr. Shobhona Sharma helped me see the business side of science," Rajeshwari added.
ENABLING WOMEN TO REALISE THEIR ENTREPRENEURIAL POTENTIAL
A supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurs is now available through multiple government policies – from taxation to loans and funding requirements. The key factors that are enabling women to realise their entrepreneurial potential include (1) international exposure for women with deserving credentials, (2) education of more women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), (3) financial freedom including purchase and investment decisions by women, (4) access to mentorship and professional networking platforms, (5) shared responsibilities at home and supportive maternity policies at work and (6) transformation in the gender-defined roles and expectations.
BATTLES WON ON THE WAY
Rajeshwari shared, "As a scientist turned entrepreneur, we had no knowledge of business, it was quite a challenge to set up a Biotechnology enterprise from scratch. But I never felt that skewed stereotypes affected me in any way because I was quite genuine and assertive in my approach and decisions. The world respects you and takes you seriously if you are confident and professional, irrespective of the gender."
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Bioklone would leverage its recognition to expand its client base in India and abroad. With the increased portfolio of services at Bioklone, they now aim to be one of the preferred service providers for Life Science Researchers. They have recently forayed into exciting areas viz., development of diagnostic kits for a few challenging molecules and development of human and humanised antibodies.
WORDS OF WISDOM
When a farmer plants new seeds, he doesn't turn up in the field the next day and expect to see a full crop of corn – it takes time! Starting a business is much the same. If you have an idea, a passion, a will to change the status quo, then you have the drive to stick it out in the long term.
It is not that somebody is born as an entrepreneur. If one has the correct kind of passion, courage, motivation and willpower, they are on track. One has to be highly self-motivated and self-disciplined to be successful in an entrepreneurial career. As Pele said, "Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do."
"To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal." – Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
"You were born with wings. Don't Crawl. Learn to use them to fly and fly." – Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam