An interview : “SRL” leads ahead. A journey

An interview : “SRL” leads ahead. A journey


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  • Source: Microbioz India

  • Date: 01 Nov,2021

Sisco Research Laboratories Pvt. Ltd. (SRL) is one of India’s oldest and most recognized manufacturer and supplier of about 5000 high quality Laboratory Chemicals and Allied Products. The Company specializes in Molecular Biology Reagents, Biochemicals, Enzymes, Nanopowders and Carbon Nanotubes, Organic & Inorganic Intermediates, High Purity Solvents, Culture Media & BioLit™ DNA & Protein Tools for PCR and regular Molecular Biology. Mr S. K. Agarwal laid the foundation of SRL way back in 1975, here I am sharing a few interesting lines of the interview with him.

 How did you start your journey prior to establishing SISCO Research laboratories

I feel delighted, nostalgic and prideful to share the brief history, genesis and growth of our company, Sisco Research Laboratories Pvt Ltd established in the year 1974.My father, Raghunandan Prasad Agarwal, migrated from Agra to Mumbai in the year 1941 and then served in a prominent scientific apparatus manufacturing company based in Agra,

His entrepreneurship spirit prompted him to start his own trading business of importing and supplying Laboratory Chemicals in the year 1948 under the title of Scientfic and Industrial Supplies Corporation (SISCO). I also assited him since the age of 18 years.

What was the scenerio of laboratory chemical business post Independance?

During that period hundread percent Laboratory Chemicals were imported from England through the British company, the Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) , continuing the legacy of the British Empire.  My father was inspired by our family trustee, the then renowned industrialist Sir Purshotamdas Thakurdas to visit abroad and locate the actual sources of the manufacturers in USA and Europe. Sir PT  indeed motivated my father by the sentiments of then recently won Independance of India which encouragrd him to  take  a great leap to EXPLORE the suppliers in Switzerland, England and United States. He boarded amongst the first flights of TWA airlines to USA in the year 1948.

He established contacts with prominent companies like E. Merck and Riedel de Haen in Germany, Fluka and Lonza in Switzerland, Koch Light and BDH Ltd in UK and J.T.Baker, Bakers Adamson, City Chemical Co, Colman Bell in USA and many others. This relationship of the trading company as a prominent importer continued for almost till 1980 when our SISCO family totally diverted to manufacturing.

Tell us briefly about the then market situation?

A brief history of Importers and distributors of laboratory chemicals during the initial period is also interesting to mention which supported the India’s scientific revolution.

Princess street was the country’s hub of Laboratory Chemicals. N.Sunderlal and Co, SISCO, N.Himmatlal and Co, J.Kundan and Co in Mumbai, Chempure in Calcutta, Thadari Chemicals in Bangalore were the major importers during those years.

Amongst the prominent  distributors in Mumbai were B.Babulal and Co, S.Mathuradas and Co, Laboratory Supply Co, SISCO and there were other who were dealing both in pharmaceuticals and Laboratory Chemicals. This list of importers and distributors  grew during  the passage  of time and gradually many more large importers and indentors and distributors/ stockists  were established throughout the country.

These distributing companies/stockists are the back bone of supporting, both, the manufactures and users of Laboratory Chemicals in the country.

What prompted you to start SRL?

SRL, Sisco Research Laboratories  Pvt Ltd, was founded in THE YEAR  1974   when  maximum number of Laboratory Chemicals were imported from Europe and USA.Myself with my younger  brothers accepted the challenge to produce Laboratory Chemicals, more focused on  Research Chemicals in India having family experience of earlier  importing them since 1948.

We  realised that producing laboratory chemicals was not any discovery or invention but it was more a technique to  apply the existing knowledge of chemistry extensively available in literatures published in Europe and USA related to  synthesis,  purification and analysis  of organic &  inorganic compounds and  to manufacture them to the exacting and required  purity standards.

Also realised that even during  the period India had no dearth of qualified and experienced chemistry technocrats in our universities. Even many Indian chemists were working in USA and England in companies manufacturing Laboratory Chemicals.  Hence, if the chemists abroad could produce these chemicals then why not our own  doctorate and post graduate chemists could do here in India?

Even scientific glassware industry was developing in the country and was servicing pharma R&D and colleges, university departments and resesrch institutions with glass wares  which were essential requisites to develop and manufacture Laboratory Chemicals and Reagents. By that  time many basic  chemicals and solvents were also being gradually manufactured in bulk in the country.

How would you describe the growth of laboratory chemicals industry in India and your company’s role?
It was more a determination  to produce them in India and break the monopoly of the foreign companies. During the same period of 1974 to 1980, four  to five  other Indian companies too  started  producing  general organic and  inorganic Laboratory Chemicals and Dehydrated Culture Media. in the same period  even NCL, Pune started a Fine Chemical Division to manufacture organic reagents and the other known Institute of Genetics in New Delhi ( now IGIBR)  set up a  Biochemicals Division, later both these departments   closed down by the government of India .Truly, that was a period of reinnansance for the Laboratory Chemicals Industry in India. It was a period when establishment of CSIR, ICAR, ICMR , AIIMS,IITs and  Universities initiated scientific revolution and temper in the country under the dynamic leadership of the  Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

SRL was supported by the then India’s prime institution, Institute of Science( formerly Royal Institute of Science) in Mumbai, through the consultation of the  late Prof.J.R.Merchant and  patronised by leading scientists in universities and research institutions.

What was your focus?

Initially SRL focused on selected  Organic Reagents,  Diagnostic Reagents and  Electrophoresis Reagents totally just 80 compounds used in chemical synthesis and analysis, clinical testing and biochemical research.

Gradually we initiated preparations of organic reagents and intermediates having applications as metal  indicators and determination of organic functional groups and Biochemical Reagents. Research in medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry in the country further  prompted us to start producing AGAROSES, Solvents of  HPLC , Spectroscopic,  ANALAR,  Scientillation grades,  Enzyme Substrates, Peptide Reagents, Chromatographic and other Separating materials   and  Organic and Inorganic molecules used in synthesis. We were moving ahead adding new range of products in our portfolio.

A decade ago, we also entered the area of producing high quality Dehydrated Culture Media to meet the competition in quality and availability within the country and abroad . Almost the same period we also  acquired a biotechnology company in Chennai manufacturing PCR Reagents and kits which has now expanded its range to include primers, ladders and markers, Lysis reagents and other molecular biology reagents.

What is the future vision of SRL?

Today, SRL is handling almost 5000 compounds listing Laboratory chemicals including Biochemicals Reagents,  Nano compounds, PCR reagents, Dehydrated Culture Media , meeting international Reagent and compendial standards of ACS,USP,BP,IP and other relevant standards. SRL has always endevoured to be a one source company for  all Research Chemical products. The success of SRL is backed by the  unrelenting efforts and research by the team of our scientists, technicians and workmen headed by our young directors Ramesh Agarwal,  Akash Agarwal and Vikas Agarwal under  whose leadership and entrepreneurship  the company is registered with the prestigious organisations  like  AIIMS,NITS,IITS,IISERS,CSIR, ICMR, ICAR, and DRDO Labs  and many National Universities and other government and private Research and Teaching  Institutions.

What has been your market expansion?

We are approved and recognised suppliers and exporters to the leading Pharma and food and allied companies and MNCs in India and abroad . SRL is well patronised by reputed manufacturing and trading  companies and distributors  in  almost 120 countries in the world.

SRL has a strong network of distributors and five depots at Mumbai, Kolkatta, Delhi, Hyderabad and central depot near Mumbai. We rigidly follow all regulatory processes and are recognised by ISO 2015, GMP, FDA and CE certification.

What has been the impact of COVID 19 on your business?

During the covid 19 period the company had the opportunity to supply essentially required Reagents to develop and manufacture RT PCR, RNA EXTRACTION KITS and VTM Media and Vaccines to several ICMR and CSIR Laboratories and leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies pan India.

What is  the future objective of your company?


“an endless process of Science”

How would you  sum up?

At the age of  86 years I am well satisfied with my role in the company and soon I shall hand over the reigns of the company to my son Ramesh Agarwal and grand sons Akash and Vikas Agarwal.

I shall continue to work with  my passion as a member of the Iindian Scout and Guide Fellowship since more than last 60 years and suppprt the movement of Scouts and Guides and community service with the scouting spirit.

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