Many companies still hesitant to invest in biotechnology

PHILADELPHIA: Many of Malaysia’s large plantation and finance related companies still hesitate to support the domestic biotechnology sector, said Melaka Biotechnology Corporation (MBC) chief executive officer, Professor Dr Farida Habib Shah. 

“I’m frustrated that local investors are still not forthcoming,” Prof Farida, a molecular biologist said, adding that many Malaysian biotechnology companies needed funding to commercialise their findings. 

She said that MBC , the biotechnology arm of the Malacca state government, had spent between RM3mil to RM5mil in low-end biotechnology activities but with potential to provide returns within a short time. 

However, support from investors was still far from satisfying, she told Malaysian journalists covering the BIO 2005 convention, the world’s largest annual biotechnology gathering here.  

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Jamaludin Jarjis is leading the delegation, comprising over 100 top Malaysian executives representing biotech companies, venture companies in the biotech sector, government departments, scientists and academicians. 

Prof Farida said that MBC was now in a pilot project for the production of tissue culture of herbal plants that would ensure a sustainable supply of raw materials for Malaysia’s biotechnology industry. 

Similarly, the corporation was doing a pilot project for the production of essential oil and herbal extract for cosmetic and nutritional industries. 

“Maybe there is still a lack of awareness in what biotechnology is all about. We need success stories to create investor confidence,” she said, adding that MBC was planning to go into the production of industrial enzymes and bio fertilisers. – Bernama  

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