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NEWS ADMIN

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

DATE

02/05/2002

NEWS PROVIDER

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

NEWS SOURCE

NULL

CATEGORY

HEADLINE

We can be regional biotechnology leader’
KUALA LUMPUR, May 1. (NSTP) — Malaysia could lead in biotechnologydevelopment in the region as it is taking the right steps in expanding andpromoting the field.

Frost & Sullivan regional research analyst Mazlyn Mena said the countrywas well ahead of countries like the Phillipines, Indonesia and Thailandbecause it focused on basic strengths like diverse natural resources andinfrastructure. Mazlyn, who was earlier in Singapore to speak onGovernment Initiatives in Biomedicine at the Biotechnology In AsiaConference, said Malaysia would provide a great infrastructure forbiotechnology company start-ups with BioValley in the Multimedia SuperCorridor.

"We are going in the right direction by concentrating on herbal medicinesand agriculture. Now with the Malaysian Venture Capital Management Bhd(Mavcap), we can invest more in biotechnology companies," she said.

Malaysia has many advantages such as having done a comprehensive researchin palm oil and other herbal supplements, a stable political andeconomical backgrounds and relatively low production costs.

"The Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia (Porim) has mapped out thegene for palm oil and we are also looking at turning palm oil into anenergy source to replace petrol." Malaysia also had the necessaryexpertise, although many capable researchers had left the country, sheadded.

"We have to try and lure them back with more incentives. We also havethose trained in bioscience, but are in other industries due to a lack ofjob opportunities." Once there were more biotechnology companies, theycould be easily persuaded to come back to the industry, she added.

Mazlyn said what was important for the country now was to encourageprivate and foreign investments by providing research and development taxdeductions and cash rebates for start up companies.

Coupled with BioValley Malaysia, foreign companies would then beencouraged to set up base here.

On the "healthy competition" in biotechnology development betweenSingapore and Malaysia, she said the republic was aggressively investingin biomedicine and Malaysia was not actually competing directly with it asthere was concentration on different areas.

"Singapore is ahead of us because it has a strong base in pharmaceuticalresearch and manufacturing, but overall, Malaysia is looking veryattractive now."

(The informations and opinions expressed in this article represent theviews of the author only. They should not be seen as necessarilyreflecting the views of Palm News)