RM6.8b investment made from BioNexus firms

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Malaysia’s bio-based industry recorded an approved investment worth RM6.81 billion from 283 certified local biotechnology companies.

Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said the investment was a 2.2% increase from RM6.6 billion recorded in 2016.

“The investment was made through bio-based firms who had received the BioNexus status from Mosti through Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corp Sdn Bhd (Bioeconomy Corp).

“Moreover, 20 BioNexus companies have managed to enter the global market and export internationally in 2017,” he said at the Bioeconomy Day 2018 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Madius Tangau added that Mosti is anticipating a RM2 billion investment in 2018 from local bio-based companies.

He also noted that BioNexus companies had created 10,665 job opportunities in 2017, which generated revenue with an average annual growth rate of 18% since 2008.

Madius Tangau said the biobased sector has grown since 2005 and has placed Malaysia as an investment destination.

“Biotechnology has been transforming the industry from commodities to valueadded products.

“Malaysia also has been a favoured investment destination due to biotechnology developments, such as the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster in Lahad Datu, Sabah, as well as Bio-XCell Malaysia in Nusajaya, Johor,” he said.

In facilitating the industry growth, he said entrepreneurs are urged to seek financial assistance that are provided by government agencies to expedite their business expansion.

“A RM100 million fund was provided in the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), under the Biotechnology Commercialisation Fund (BCF), in the form of soft loans to address the financial needs for companies to grow.

“The initiative was a step-up from the grant provided in the 10MP, which limits the number of companies that could benefit from it,” he said.

Madius Tangau further added that RM20 million has been set aside for 10 companies who applied for the soft loans.

BCF is managed by Bioeconomy Corp and Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd to serve as a continuation of funding assistance to further develop the bio-based industry.

Funding assistance prior to BCF were disbursed only for BioNexus-status companies through the Biotechnology Commercialisation Grant.

Meanwhile, Bioeconomy Corp chairman Prof Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid said increasing the number of bio-based entrepreneurs and forming a stronger global presence remains a challenge for the industry.

“Many doubted the viability of our economy. In fact, Malaysia is one of the 17 countries in the world who possess ecology biodiversity, particularly in the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

“The challenge now is to find ways to leverage on the bioeconomy through biotechnology, by strengthening the industry players and propelling their market presence, as well as the economic development,” he said.