Development of Biotechnology Industry in Malaysia
1996 to 2000 – During the second phase, the National Biotechnology Directorate (NBD) was formed under MOSTE to further enhance the biotechnology development in the country. The objective of the directorate was to spearhead the development of biotechnology in Malaysia through research and related activities as well as to establish Malaysia as a leading centre for the biotechnology industry. Simultaneously, Biotechnology Cooperative Centers (BCC) was created under NBD to assist in coordinating the National Programme in Biotechnology by building a robust professional network among universities, research institutions and industries to speed up the diffusion of knowledge to the relevant industry.
2001 to 2005 - At the third stage of development, the collaboration between the National Biotechnology Directorate and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) initiated the BioValley Strategic Plan. The plan includes the provision of BioValley Malaysia, a Malaysian Biotechnology Cluster, which is expected to accelerate the research and commercialisation of technologies. The former Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launched the National Biotechnology Policy on 28 April 2005. The objective of the policy is to invigorate the biotechnology industry to become a new economic engine to enhance prosperity and wellness of the nation by 2020. In light of this, a one-stop agency, namely the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (MBC) was established to facilitate the industry’s development, including coordination of regulatory policy among different agencies.
2006 and beyond - The development of biotechnology industry during this phase was outlined in the Ninth Malaysian Plan. The government provided an allocation of RM2 billion to support the development of physical and soft infrastructure in the local biotechnology industry. Recognising the importance of a conducive regulatory framework to the success of this endeavour, the government has
Driving Malaysian Biotechnology Industry
The establishment of the National Biotechnology Policy is a clear indication of the government’s intense effort in making biotechnology as one of the main pillars of economic growth. Research has shown that the success of the US biotech industry is centred on nine leading biotech clusters. Biotech activities will naturally take place around centres that have a good connection with research institutes and universities. The existing Multimedia Super Corridor can guarantee the need for high-speed communication between these centres of excellence and the enormous computing power for high-powered biotechnology projects. As such, the upgrading of existing facilities and encouraging researchers through government support would be the way to lure investors and companies in setting up their biotech entities in Malaysia.
Other key factors that contribute towards the success of the biotechnology industry are the availability of venture capital funding and a critical mass of highly qualified biotechnology graduates. Malaysia needs to produce a few hundreds of biotechnology graduates every year to fill up the jobs created in the industry.
MIDA will continue its role in promoting the biotechnology industry to attract more local and foreign investments, thus create employment opportunities and strengthen the biotechnology ecosystem. Continuous support from the government can be seen through the introduction of tax incentives for companies investing in the manufacturing of biotechnology products, which includes significant incentives such as Pioneer Status and Investment Tax Allowance. Eligibility for PS and ITA is based on specific priorities, including the level of value-added, technology used and industrial linkages.
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