In 1947 Vikram Sarabhai completed his Ph.D. from Cambridge University, UK, and joined the family businesses. He established the Ahmedabad Textile Industrial Research Association (ATIRA) and the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), which went on to become the cradle of India’s Space Programme. In 1950 he took over the responsibility of a small operation in Vadodara, Gujarat named Sarabhai Chemicals. Concluding a technical collaboration agreement with E.R. Squibb & Sons, USA, the company grew rapidly to become the largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in India.
Other important collaborations followed: in 1955 with J. R. Geigy, Switzerland, for the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, textiles, auxiliaries, and dyes; in 1958 with E. Merck, Germany, for the manufacture of Vitamin C and Fine Chemicals. And in 1960 he extended the collaboration with Squibb to make Bulk antibiotics using fermentation through the formation of Synbiotics. He felt that the ability to manufacture penicillin was critical at that time and in 1961 acquired a controlling interest in Standard Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Kolkata (Calcutta). The company also diversified into Electronics with the establishment of Systronics, a partnership with Sony, Japan, that endures today.
His passion for science and space research led to the formation of the Indian Space Research Organization. In 1966 he was made the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India and stepped down from his role in the business. He is remembered today as a founder of many outstanding institutions including the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and as the Father of India’s Space programme.