YBhg Dato’ Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal, CEO
In 2006, the concept of collaboration between San Francisco-based California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and Malaysia was first mooted by the then Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dato’ Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis. The idea was to connect the QB3 bio-entrepreneurship ecosystem to Malaysia and getting young people to start being business owners based on biotechnologies.
Successful entrepreneurs turn “life changing ideas” into great commercial opportunities. Looking at Silicon Valley, home to the world’s largest technology companies and thousands of start-ups is a clear example of the impact entrepreneurs can have in transforming the economics of a region.
Among the pioneers who had undergone post-doctoral training under the early days of Malaysia-QB3 programme was Dr. Izza Jahari, Dr. Weng Ruh Wong and Dr. Kenny Ang. Spurred by their interest to become bio-entrepreneurs, our young scientists co-founded Neopeutics and Alami Therapeutics. Neopeutics is company that provides early-stage drug-discovery contract research with a novel methology while Alami Therapeutics in systematic scouting of new compounds from marine sources through a novel bio-activity screening platform is now on the verge of expanding its operation at QB3 in the San Francisco bay area.
Neopeutic and Alami Therapeutics itself are the products of a unique collaboration borne from the Malaysia-QB3 programme by commercialising technologies developed in University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). To know more, please visit the website http://www.malaysia.qb3.org. Indeed, if Malaysia’s bioeconomy is to be successful, it must be based on a steady flow of innovative bio-based products and services. Our Universities need spin-off companies to bring products to the market.
The biggest challenge during the entire active life of start-ups would be in developing the right business model and being relevant to the market. This is where the Malaysia-QB3 programme will assist our young scientists and budding bio-entrepreneurs in setting up their start-ups.
Recently Malaysia had the opportunity to host President Barack Obama during his official visit to Malaysia. The U.S. leader, who was on a three-day visit to the country, stopped by Cyberjaya to launch the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC). The launching of MaGIC is a growing testament to Malaysia-U.S. collaboration to further foster entrepreneurship especially among young people.
In his speech, President Obama mentioned that the key to future growth lies in providing learning and training opportunities for the younger generation. As an incubator for young entrepreneurs, MaGIC will work with key U.S. institutions such as Stanford University and UP Global. BiotechCorp will work with on MaGIC to promote bio-entrepreneurship. Together, the ultimate aim is to increase the level of entrepreneurial activity, new company creation and participation by young people, to position the country as a global biotechnology start-up hub.
The BIO International Convention in June will be held in San Diego. This year’s biggest annual gathering of bio-industry experts provides an important platform to position Malaysia’s bioentrepreneurship initiatives. The convention in San Diego will be an important avenue to attract fund managers and investors to fill the financial gaps needed by our bio-entrepreneur community.
As I have mentioned in my previous columns, a workable funding ecosystem is an important element to the growth of the bio-based sector. Certainly, young entrepreneurs with ideas will not be able to realise their dreams if they have no access to financial support. BiotechCorp does not want the lack of adequate funding to dampen the development of a bio-entrepreneurship ecosystem.
We should give our young people the opportunity to realised their ideas and dreams within the ecosystem. Given that the social and economic benefits of promoting bio-entrepreneurship are indisputable, it is hoped that these early steps taken will transform Malaysia into a bioeconomy-centric nation in the foreseeable future.