Billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla’s Biography

Cyrus Poonawalla 1


Cyrus Poonawalla is an Indian billionaire businessman and chairman of the Poonawalla Group, a conglomerate that operates in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biotech, engineering, and real estate. He is best known for founding Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, which provided millions of doses of vaccines to developing countries. Poonawalla’s net worth is estimated to be $13.2 billion as of 2021, according to Forbes.

Early Life and Education

Cyrus Poonawalla was born on September 17, 1945, in Pune, Maharashtra, India. He grew up in a family of affluence and privilege, as his father, Soli Poonawalla, was a renowned horse breeder and businessman. Poonawalla attended The Bishop’s School, Pune, and later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the famous College of Pharmacy, Pune University, in 1966. After that, he went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pune.

Career and Achievements

Cyrus Poonawalla started his career in business by establishing the Serum Institute of India in 1966, with the vision of providing affordable vaccines to combat some of the deadliest diseases. Today, the company produces a wide range of immunobiologicals, such as flu vaccine, measles vaccine, polio vaccine, and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, which are distributed globally. In 2012, the Serum Institute produced a low-cost version of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which proved to be a life-saver for children in developing countries, who are at high risk of infections such as pneumonia.

Apart from the Serum Institute, Poonawalla has invested in various sectors through his Poonawalla Group. His investments include real estate, biotech, engineering, and finance. His biotech firm, Bilthoven Biologicals, based in the Netherlands, produces polio vaccine, while the other firm, SII Belgium, produces meningitis vaccine.

Poonawalla’s business empire includes companies such as Serum Institute of India, Serum Bio Pharma Park, Poonawalla Aviation, and Villoo Poonawalla Foundation. He also owns a horse racing team and has won several prestigious races over the years.

In recognition of his contributions to healthcare and business, Poonawalla has received numerous awards, including the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honors in 2005, and the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2020.

Personal Life

Cyrus Poonawalla is married to Villoo Poonawalla and has two children, Adar and Natasha. Adar Poonawalla, his son, is the CEO of Serum Institute of India and is considered one of the rising stars of Indian business. The family is known to be private, despite their immense wealth.


Name Cyrus Poonawalla
Born September 17, 1945
Country India
Sector Pharmaceuticals, Biotech, Engineering, Real Estate
Companies Serum Institute of India, Serum Bio Pharma Park, Poonawalla Aviation, Bilthoven Biologicals, SII Belgium, Villoo Poonawalla Foundation
Net Worth $13.2 billion
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