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More strategies needed to spur biotechnology growth - Najib

More aggressive strategies are needed to spur and sustain the growth of the biotechnology industry beyond 2020 as the complexity of the bio-based industry increases, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

In this regard, he said, the role of BioNexus companies in Malaysia’s bioeconomy would undoubtedly become more prominent in ensuring a sustainable economic growth.

“The third phase of the National Biotechnololgy Policy, which will begin in 2016, will focus on global business, where the target is for Malaysia to become a global player by 2020,” he said.

Najib said this at the opening of the BioMalaysia and Asia Pacific Bioeconomy Conference and Exhibition 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday.

Currently, Malaysia has 240 BioNexus companies with a total approved investments of over RM4.41 billion.

Najib said the strategy would focus on collectively strengthening BioNexus companies, the universities and research institutes, whereby these companies would be able to tap the resources available to increase their innovation and strengthen their research and development capability through this framework.

He said the bio-based industries were considered a strategic high-impact, high-growth and high-technology sector capable of driving the development of innovative conversion technologies.

Najib said this would generate new economic opportunities and create a broad spectrum of pioneering industry segments in the country.

“Bioeconomy has been identified as a game changer for Malaysia’s economy.

“With our biodiversity and the abudance of biological resources, bioeconomy has the potential to increase the country’s economic competitiveness, creates more job opportunitites, enhance healthcare, ensure food security and address environmental as well as sustainability concerns,” he said.

He said the government, through the efforts of Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation and BiotechCorp, was currently embarking on a comprehensive development agenda that promoted the use of renewable chemicals and bio-based products, through an initiative called the Bioeconomy Transformation Programme (BTP).

“As we push the boundaries of transformation to ensure that the changes are truly holistic and inclusive, encompassing economic, governance as well as social and political aspects, the BTP initiative is really a crucial component of the government’s economic transformation agenda,” he said.

Najib said total approved investments in Malaysia’s bio-based industry from 2011 to date had more than doubled to RM18.98 billion compared with the target of RM9 billion previously set for the 2011-2015 period.

He said this significant achievement for Phase 2 of the National Biotechnololgy Policy had generated benefits to the people and nation, by creating jobs for graduates, providing exposure to innovative and cutting-edge technology.

Bioeconomy agenda in Malaysia aims to achieve RM48 billion in gross national income in 2020, attract RM50 billion in investments and create 170,000 job opportunities by 2020.

“This Bioeconomy Transformation Programme initiative will make it easier for local bio-based companies to grow even faster to complete in the international market, simultaneously create broader income opportunities and enhance the value of our nation’s human capital,” he said.

Najib said the government was aware of the shortage of talent faced by biotech enterprises, adding that this could be solved through innovative partnerships between the government, private and public institutions.

“We need to develop the needed human capital resources by equipping talents with the necessary skills and knowledge, fostering an innovative culture and improving performance through training,” he said.

Najib said universities and other institutions of higher learning could certainly be positioned to be the main providers of knowledge-workers to fill the job opportunities created by the bio-based industry.

At the function, the prime minister witnessed six collaborations to strengthen Malaysia’s biotechnology and bioeconomy growth, with investments valued totalling more than RM250 million.

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