FROM LAB BENCH TO SHELF: TOWARDS A CONSUMER-DRIVEN BIOECONOMY
YBhg Dato’ Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal CEO of BiotechCorp
For some years now, I have witnessed the extent to which life sciences and biotechnology have been fuelling innovation in a myriad of industries; and to a larger extent the food and drinks, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals and agriculture sectors.
In my previous columns, I have highlighted the benefits of pursuing a bio-based economy in which many of its enabling applications and processes have formed an important component across different industries working towards moving up the whole value chain.
As I have also written before, many of these innovations have been driven by the changing needs of consumers and society at large for greener and more sustainable bio-based products.
To reiterate, bioeconomy as a new engine for economic growth can help society achieve this. By having said that, among the key drivers for successfully implementing a widespread and well-accepted bioeconomy depends on delivering goods and services that consumers most need and want. Nationwide, people are already demanding greener household care products, cheaper and cleaner fuels and a greater selection of bio-based personal care items.
Like all other great success stories in other innovation fields eg. ICT, research and development in the bio-based sector should be consumer-focused and geared towards producing end-products which will help drive commercialisation. After all, it is consumers’ demand which will eventually push and sustain further growth in any given economic sector.
And while there are many growth opportunities in the bio-based market, certainly to realise it is to enable market access for these bio-based products by advocating collaboration between industry (especially SMEs) and government agencies. Once again too, the private sector participation is crucial to ensure the continuous flow of these green products for sustaining the bioeconomy.
BiotechCorp has already taken the right direction by initiating the BioShoppe programme as a way to bring to market consumer-focused and innovative bio-based products. Some weeks ago, I was at the opening ceremony of the first BioShoppe retail location at Nova Retail Outlet in IOI Mall Puchong. The launch of BioShoppe at Nova is testament to the increased commercialisation success and growing acceptance of locally produced bio-based products.
In fact, the BioShoppe concept itself is an important marketing and branding platform designed to help strengthen the BioNexus brand and creating effective market appearance for locally produced bio-based products from BioNexus companies. Without compromise, consumer items found in BioShoppe only encompass goods manufactured with the highest standards in science and technology to ensure quality and customers’ satisfaction.
I once found a dietary supplement on the shelf in Paris made of Orthosiphon stamineus or better known locally as Misai Kucing. On another occasion, I attended a talk in Los Angeles where a prominent scientist was explaining his latest discovery for weight management by using Garcinia cambogia, which I later realised was in fact Asam Keping. It appears that the West has highly recognised the value our very own biodiversity can deliver.
I shared these experiences with several BioNexus companies to entice their imagination on the potential global market out there waiting to be explored. The strategic partnership between BiotechCorp and Nova is the first concrete step into achieving that goal by bringing locally produced bio-based products to the marketplace. In order to leverage on the country’s huge biodiversity potential, more such similar collaborations will be materialised in the foreseeable future.
It was immediately after the launching ceremony, the BioNexus Product Logo too was unveiled. Clearly, proper brand awareness plays a major role in consumers’ decision-making and buying habit and having BioNexus products placed under one logo will no doubt help to further increase consumers’ recognition and confidence in locally manufactured bio-based goods and services. Alas, Malaysian consumers are now having the exciting option for quality BioNexus products under one roof.
Buying locally produced products will help the country to save on foreign exchange and in addition boosting manufacturing activities. Seeing the larger picture, this will also increase employment opportunities, encourages the utilisation of local resources and stimulating the growth of local bio-entrepreneurs. It is a triple win – and that means a brighter future for the country.
I foresee in due course, both the BioShoppe and BioNexus Products Logo initiatives will encourage more consumption of locally manufactured bio-based products. Yet, it is the beginning of an ongoing task to continuously engage the consumers in order to fully realise the bioeconomy agenda. This, more than anything else, is the foremost objective.