Malaysia to find niche in biotech industry

Posted on November 24, 2010. Filed under: Environmental Science |

Borneo Post-

KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said that Sabah has yet to acculturate and improvise current development of the biotech industry and while the proposed strategies and plans have been incorporated into Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), the need to gear up in developing the industry in the state must be stressed.

Maximus further pointed out that Malaysia needs to find its own niche in the biotech rat-race stressing that other countries have made large investments in the biotechnology industry, and many have found their niche.

Brazil is now recognised for its advancement in biofuel, Japan for industrial fermentation and Korea for industrial bioprocesses.

He said the country’s strong agricultural foundation in commodity crops such as palm oil presents an advantage to develop environmental-friendly technologies and the abundant biomass and waste from palm oil and other commodity crops could be leveraged to provide a sustainable and economical source of feedstock for the production of biofuel.

“It also could be turned into ‘brown gold’, an organic fertiliser, or to be chemically or enzymatically refined to produce other bio-chemical derivatives,” Maximus suggested in his keynote address at the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) seminar on Investment Opportunities in Sabah Biotech Industry here yesterday.

His speech was delivered by the chief operating officer of Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation Sdn Bhd (BiotechCorp) Dr Wan Abdul Rahaman Wan Yaacob.

The event was organised by Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia) in collaboration with Mosti.

“We need to be literate in biotech in order to leverage on platform technologies to hasten commercialisation initiatives and create a niche as a tropical biotech hub and Sabah could also leverage on the existing biotech initiatives and conservation work to draw research and commercialisation in the state,” Maximus said.

He further stated that since the inception of the National Biotechnology Policy on April 6, 2005, a total of 349 biotech companies were identified in Malaysia.

From 2005 to 2009, the industry recorded a total investment of US$1.3 billion, equivalent to RM4.5 billion.

57.8 per cent of the companies were funded by the government while the remainder were funded by the private sector initiatives.

Maximus also pledged to continue government investments in this industry, while at the same time strive to increase collaborations.

These include the public-private sector collaborations, domestic and regional collaborations, procurement of transactions, procurement of sales and distribution channels for our country’s biotechnology innovation, products, technologies and services.

He also believed that an invisible ‘social contract on biotechnology’ was needed between all stakeholders to act as a catalyst towards building a sustainable biotechnology industry.

Also present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Peter Pang En Yin, and president of Sedia Datuk Dr Mohd Yaakub Johari.

Meanwhile, Director of Life Science Industry of Mida Jaswant Singh said the pharmaceutical industry could enjoy reinvestment allowance of 60 per cent on qualifying capital expenditure for 15 years.

In addition, there is also reinvestment allowance of 60 per cent on qualifying capital expenditure for 15 years, as well as investment tax allowance of 70 per cent to 100 per cent on qualifying capital expenditure incurred for a period of five to 10 years.

“The allowance can be offset against 70 per cent to 100 per cent of the statutory income for each year of assessment,” Jaswant said while pointing out that the pharmaceutical industry was identified as one of the new growth areas for development and promotion under the Third Industrial Master Plan (2006-2020).

“Under the National Key Economic Area (NKEA) (Healthcare Services), the pharmaceuticals and medical devices industries have been identified as one of the targeted sectors to be further promoted and developed,” he said.

Jaswant continued that the tax incentives were given to manufacture of pharmaceutical and related products, biotechnology, development and production of cell cultures, biomaterials, manufacture of medical, surgical, dental, or veterinary devices or equipment, design, development and manufacture of medical equipment, medical implant or devices and scientific equipment, and testing laboratories for medical devices, just to name a few.


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