Pioneer Indian American entrepreneur gets Science and Technology Lifetime Achievement Award 2020.
Indian American entrepreneur Dr. Dinesh C. Patel has been honored with Utah Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Medal for Science and Technology for his contribution in the field of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
Considered the father of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in the Rocky Mountain region, Dr. Patel has for the last 40 years worked tirelessly to make Utah’s science and technology footprint substantive and strong, according to a media release.
The medal has been awarded to deserving recipients since 1987 for distinguished service to Utah in the fields of science and technology. A lifetime achievement award was instituted in 2018.
A noted philanthropist, Dr. Patel continues to drive new and better innovations and technology supporting Utah companies and organizations with his time, effort and funding.
Founding TheraTech Inc. in 1985, Dr, Patel led the company in a successful initial public offering in 1992, and successful acquisition in 1999 when Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. purchased the company for over $350 million.
With over 250 employees at the time of acquisition, TheraTech was a research and development company that specializes in technologies used to administer controlled, time-release medicines, including transdermal patches, oral systems for delivering pain medications, topical preparations and cell-targeted technologies.
Post TheraTech, Dr. Patel founded Salus Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that developed anti-sense pharmaceuticals. Genta Inc, acquired Salus in 2003 for $30 million.
He continued to start and grow companies in Utah, founding and cofounding other successful ventures, including a family investment firm, Patel Family Investments, which has a current portfolio of over 25 early-stage companies and 12 private equity/venture funds.
Dr. Patel has received distinguished honors locally and across the globe for his leadership, mentorship and contributions to the scientific communities including the State of Utah’s Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology – Industry Category in 1996.
Dr Patel’s contributions as a philanthropist include Shree Chhotubhai A. Patel Hospital & Community Health Center, Mota Fofalia, Gujarat, a 100-bed hospital funded and run through Shaktikrupa Charitable Foundation.
The foundation is funded by the families of Dr. Dinesh Patel and his brothers Dr. Kiran Patel and Pradip Patel.
The hospital was built in memory of their father and serves nearly 65,000 people in villages surrounding Mota Fofalia, Shree Chhotubhai A. Patel’s birthplace.
In an interview with The Indian Eye Dr. Dinesh C. Patel said he moved to Utah in 1985 to start a pharmaceutical company.
“In 1992, when I took the company public, it was one of the first pharmaceutical companies in Utah to go public, probably one of the first Indians to found a pharmaceutical company and take it public in the US,” he said.
“I was going to start a pharmaceutical company in Texas when I received a call from my professor, Dr Higuchi, under whom I got my doctorate, to apply for a job in a relatively new company.”
“I informed him that I was starting a pharmaceutical company. He told me we can start it together in Utah. Professor Higuchi is world renowned in the pharmaceutical industry. So, I jumped at that opportunity,” Patel said.
“You need a vibrant ecosystem to thrive,” he said. “I played a central role in building the life science ecosystem here.”
Asked about his main contribution and success in 40 years in Utah, Patel said having started the first large pharmaceutical company, many of the people who worked for him started their own companies.
“Further as a venture capitalist and then as an angel investor, I have invested in over 40 companies besides being founder of many of these companies,” he said.
“I was also a driving force behind a state initiative called USTAR. The state funded over $400 million at the two state universities to attract world class researchers. This in turn has attracted billions of research dollars,” Patel said.
On what inspired him to launch TheraTech Inc, Patel said, “I had set a goal that by 1985 I will start my own company and that I will not work for someone. Since then I have been my ‘own boss’ and have achieved my goals.”
Bering honored with the Governor’s Medal was “a very humbling experience,” said Patel. “I have been very fortunate to be recognized by the Utah community for my accomplishment. This is my fourth Lifetime Achievement award.”
Asked about the driving force behind his energy and motivation, he said: “I enjoy the challenge of working with young, creative entrepreneurs and developing products that help the people. As of today, I am co-founder/initial investor of over 10 companies.”
Talking about his early life, Dr. Patel said, “I was born and raised in Zambia. I completed high school in Zambia, then went to India for my undergraduate education.”
“I came to the US in 1973 for my graduate studies. My father was a businessman in Zambia and was the inspiration for my entrepreneurship and philanthropic activities.”
“My brothers, Dr Kiran Patel and Pradip Patel, are also very successful business people and extremely generous philanthropists.”
“My wife Kalpana has supported in all my business and philanthropic activities,” Dr. Patel said adding, “Without the support of my wife Kalpana and children, Ashish and Avni, I would not be where I am today.”
“In addition, we three brothers — Dr Kiran, Pradip and myself — have worked as a team helping each other become successful,” he said.
Asked about the importance of giving back to the community, Dr Patel said, “We all need to give back to our community, here and our birthplace. We can give back financially and by volunteering in the community.”
His message for Indian Americans: “Dream big, achieve your goals and share your wealth — financially, mentally and physically.”