Malaysia stamps its mark at biotech conference in the US

  • Business
  • Friday, 01 Jul 2011

WASHINGTON: Malaysia has made its presence felt at the BIO International Convention (BIO Washington DC) - the world's largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, which ended yesterday.

Besides BIO Washington DC being opened by Deputy Prime Minister Tan sri Muhyiddin Yassin (the first country leader given the honour to open the annual event), Muhyiddin and Biotechnology International Organisation (BIO) president Jim Greenwood announced the co-organisation of the BioMalaysia 2011 Conference and Exhibition and the 2011 Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy. The two events will be held concurrently at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Nov 21 to 23.

BIO executive vice-president Brent Erickson told reporters that Malaysia was seen as a leader in Asia in developing innovation policy, fostering novel funding mechanisms to attract technology to the country, and having a huge biomass resource.

The Pacific Rim Summit will focus on industrial biotechnology, which he saw as the newest and most exciting wave of biotechnology innovation. It will be the first time the Pacific Rim Summit is brought outside the United States.

Malaysian Bio-XCell Sdn Bhd and its parent Malaysian Biotechnology Corp attracted 40 one-on-one meetings with potential investors and partners at the convention.

Bio-XCell chief executive officer Raja Ridzwa Raja Abdul Aziz told Malaysian reporters during a wrap-up briefing session that the majority of them were from the United States, Europe and South Asia.

“Their interests are in contract/clinical research, drug discovery and nutraceuticals,” he said.

Four agreements were signed at BIO Washington DC worth nearly RM1bil in potential investments over the next three years that would enhance Malaysia's biotechnology ecosystem.

Malaysia's strategy in biotechnology hinges on collaboration and promoting Malaysia as a regional hub for the Asean region, which not only provides a huge market for biotechnology players but also a large quantity of biomass feedstock for their manufacturing processes.

BiotechCorp chief operating officer Dr Wan Abdul Rahaman Wan Yaacob sees Singapore as playing a complementary role to Malaysia. The biotechnology research and development activities by multinational companies in Singapore can translate into commercialisation in Malaysia as Singapore has limited resources such as land, he said.

According to Ridzwa, Bio-XCell's biotechnology park in Iskandar Malaysia allows for the production process itself to be environmentally friendly, with renewable energy and steam produced by biomass.

“The foreign investors are looking for the concept of green being from end to end (in the production process) and they're not stopping at feedstock,” he added.

Wan Rahaman said Malaysia could be “greener” than other neighbouring countries.

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