YBhg Dato’ Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal CEO of BiotechCorp
I recently read about a famous actress Jessica Alba, who has created a start-up company that raises USD 70 million at a nearly USD 1 billion valuation and soon going for IPO. The Honest Co., which sells natural and eco-friendly baby products, cleaning products as well as supplements and pharma nutrition. If I recall correctly, Madonna and Demi Moore too invested into a company, Vitacoco, that produces healthy coconut drink.
I have to admit, not that I am following these celebrities but it seems that my area of interest, namely the bio-based industry has been attracting some very good and famous investors.
The bio-based sector or bioeconomy is seen by many countries as an important component for economic growth. It definitely could be a game changer for Malaysia as well. The National Biotechnology Policy (NBP) and the Bioeconomy Transformation Programme (BTP) are the manifestations of our country’s intention to move towards with this green trend for a more sustainable growth. It is refreshing to note that along the years, the implementation of key policies has been supported and guided by a team of renowned international experts from the bio-based sector.
Since the inception of the NBP in 2005, members of the Bio-International Advisory Panel (Bio-IAP) have been advising and contributing to the development of biotechnology and bioeconomy in the country. The industry to date have benefited from the overall collective expertise and experience provided by the Bio-IAP advisory team; responsible for delivering strategic inputs and direction directly to the Prime Minister himself who also chairs the Bio-IAP.
Only some weeks ago, BiotechCorp has hosted the 8th Bio-IAP meeting at the New York Academy of Sciences. This annual Bio-IAP meeting was held in late September coinciding with the Global Science & Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) event. I must say, moderating a discussion with a group of renowned biotechnology experts was indeed a very challenging task for me. Nonetheless, it has been a privilege to be able to interact with a team comprises of knowledgeable personalities and well known industry pioneers.
This year’s Bio-IAP meeting is no less important and crucial. Upon extensive discussions with the panelists as well as leading industry players, I am even more convinced now that bioeconomy can really be a strong contributor to Malaysia’s economy by 2020 and beyond. For that reason, the Bio-IAP meeting in New York seeks to strategies and to address the challenges in enhancing Malaysia’s competitiveness with the objective of translating bio-based applications to business and economy.
I am broadly in agreement with the idea that the formula for success will depend upon strong and effective partnerships and collaborations at multiple levels, across many fields, and with many active participants from the public as well as the private sectors. The key recommendations were highlighted in three strategic papers that were presented to The Right Honorable Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak. The three papers are;
Paper 1: Bioeconomy Malaysia: Advancing the Nation into New Frontiers
Paper 2: SMEs: Driving Catalytic Growth in the Bioeconomy
Paper 3: Transforming Rural Community Through Bioeconomy
Taking into account the future trends, industry innovation, Malaysia’s competitiveness in economic performance, government efficiency and infrastructure, the advisors debated at length to create an “Opportunity Mapping” for identifying key strategies and focus areas for Malaysia.
One resulting outcome is to focus on the areas of (1) Cellular Medicine & Stem Cells, (2) Bio-cosmeceuticals, Wellness & Pharma Nutrition and (3) Bio-based Chemicals as priority sectors for the bioeconomy. The growth prospects offered by these areas are vast. There are interesting opportunities to explore and to push the boundaries of conventional products and markets through innovation and the blue ocean strategy, which necessitates my view for the need of the bio-based sector to focus on uncontested market space and to create value by unlocking new market demand.
Of course, the meeting also hinges on the importance of industry, notably the SMEs as a significant economic contributor to the nation. Therefore, the proposal for the creation of a critical mass of bio-based SMEs so as to ensure that Malaysia will benefit from having a significant number of dynamic, technology-driven and competitive knowledge-based SMEs were put forward.
For every citizen to benefit from this initiative, it is also important to create a bioeconomy that is inclusive. We have the business model, which includes the participation of rural communities in the bioeconomy value chain. Cooperating with SMEs, a technology-enhanced upstream bioeconomy driven by rural community to centre on raw material production will form the basis of a bio-based industry cluster. This rural community development model will significantly transform the livelihoods and incomes of rural Malaysia.
I want to conclude by reinstating that bioeconomy is based on processes using renewable biological resources to create sustainable economic, social and environmental friendly solutions. Therefore the core focus of all the papers centres on exploiting these resources into producing higher value-added products through a combination of bio-based technologies. This in turn will create more jobs, enhance food security, healthcare and increase the nation’s income. In essence, it is the multipliers which will eventually determine the success of the Malaysian bioeconomy.
Finally, it is my pleasure to thank The Right Honorable Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak for his time to chair the 8th Bio-IAP meeting in New York, all the members of the Bio-IAP team for their inputs and guidance leading to the meeting, and not forgetting our own industry leaders and other stakeholders who went all the way to New York to be with us. The 8th Bio-IAP meeting was a huge success!