With a 600 million plus population and pharmaceutical market demand of USD21.3 billion in 2014, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is poised to be the next economic powerhouse of Asia, through efforts such as the ASEAN Harmonization and Bioeconomy Transformation Programme.
The ASEAN Harmonization is an effort pursued to create common standards in regulating the import and export of products across 10 member countries. In 2014, all 10 ASEAN member countries adopted the ASEAN Common Submission Dossier Template (CSDT) for Medical Devices, providing regulatory clarity for businesses to register their products in ASEAN.
With 78 participants in the Malaysian delegation hailing from government ministries, state governments, government agencies, funding institutions, and industry players, Malaysia is geared to showcase new offerings to global partners in the biomedical sector, including OECD GLP accredited services, world class infrastructure, and innovative healthcare products. The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) are among the various government agencies in attendance to showcase their strong support for biotechnology enterprises.
"We are committed to providing the necessary assistance and facilitation to push Malaysia's bioeconomy agenda and to keep the country competitive, innovative, and prosperous. We want Malaysia to be the gateway for the ASEAN market and to create a supportive, holistic, and integrated environment for bioeconomy to flourish in the region," said Deputy Secretary General (Science) of the Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation (MOSTI), Dr. Zulkifli bin Mohamed Hashim.
The opening ceremony of the Malaysian Pavilion began with several announcements and exchange of documents highlighting the value propositions of Malaysia's innovative biomedical industry. This was followed by the launch of the first Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Special Training (BeST) in USA, a specialized career-coaching programme designed to retain talent by connecting with Malaysian students studying in the USA.
Under the Bioeconomy Accelerator Programme, BiotechCorp partnered with Larta Institute in Los Angeles to mentor Malaysian companies bringing in their products to USA and establish strategic partnerships to increase their product value. Cyberview, an emerging technology hub enabler, was also in attendance, acting as one of the sponsors of the Malaysian Pavilion and reception. Their value propositions include clean room laboratories that can accommodate high-value R&D and skilled workers
"As one of the 12 mega biodiversity countries globally, Malaysia's biodiversity and people diversity act as the encouragement for drug discovery and development programs to be undertaken in Malaysia. This is complemented by our comprehensive value chain in biotechnology that has attracted strong foreign players into our market," said Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp) Chief Operating Officer, Razwin Sulairee Hasnan Termizi.
Since the establishment of the National Biotechnology Policy in 2005, capacity building initiatives have been deployed for infrastructure, talent, financial, regulatory and branding. This 360 degrees approach relates to Malaysia's aspiration for becoming the regional hub for biopharma investments, which ultimately contributes to the nation's bioeconomy.
BiotechCorp plays a key role to grow the bio-based industry in the region by offering attractive tax incentives for companies that qualify under the BioNexus status, awarded to qualified international and Malaysian biotechnology companies. With the aim to assist biotechnology companies in the U.S. that are looking at a regional hub in South East Asia, Malaysia opened its first BiotechCorp office in San Francisco on 12 June 2015.
The country is also ranked fourth globally for Biotech Enterprise Support in the Scientific American Report and second in ASEAN for intellectual property protection in the IMD World Competitiveness Index Yearbook. This pro-patent environment is evident in the increase of up to 20% of patent application in Malaysia since 2014. As the biotechnology hub of South East Asia, Malaysia is offering more opportunities to investors through the availability of a full value chain for their businesses.
"There are certainly more opportunities in the Malaysian biotech value chain to be discovered, and investors are increasingly aware there is more to Malaysia."