Review of R&D projects

A COMPREHENSIVE review on research grants totalling RM4.9bil and research and development programmes will soon be conducted to identify shortcomings.

Science, Technology and Inno-vation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said an eight-member committee would be formed over the next 30 days to review the reports submitted by the institutions which have been allocated the grants.

“They have to list their achievements and we will look into their output to determine if they are consistent with the goals set by the ministry. Those with insufficient grants will get more if their programmes are found to be good.

“Malaysian universities are doing a fantastic job in churning out biotech professionals but they don’t have the expertise to commercialise their products,” he said recently.

Dr Ongkili was speaking to reporters after the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Phar-maceutical and Nutraceutical Institute (IPharm) complex site in Jalan Yeap Chor Ee in George Town.

“The review will take six months. Emphasis is given to technology and market driven innovation which will expe- dite the returns from the government’s investments in the form of grants.

“The ministry will request for more money under the 10th Malaysia Plan. More than RM2bil was allocated for the development of biotechnology and applied science in the coun-try under the 9th Malaysia Plan,” he added.

Dr Ongkili said that from the feedback he had obtained from international biotech and pharmaceutical companies based in Penang, the products from local universities were of international standard.

“I am sure that more ‘high impact’ products of such standard will be discovered and Malaysia will become a biotech powerhouse with the completion of the RM100mil IPharm Complex in two years’ time.

“We need to be innovative if we are to compete with countries such as China and India. Our target is to have 100 biotech companies of global standard by the year 2020 under the National Biotech Policy,” he said.

IPharm director-general Datuk Dr Mohamed Isa Abdul Majid, who was also present at the ceremony, said that worldwide expen-diture for pharmaceutical products was US$300bil (RM960bil) annually with biotech products contributing over US$20bil (RM64bil) to that amount.

“The setting up of three national institutes in Penang and the Klang Valley is sure to speed up biotech research and development in the country.”

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