INNOVATION AND VALUE CREATION IN THE BIO-BASED ECONOMY
YBhg Dato’ Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal CEO of BiotechCorp
I must say that we are truly living in an exciting time. Growing understanding of life sciences coupled with matured bio-based technologies is currently transforming the global bio-based scene. We can see a large number of successful bio-based companies undergoing massive growth and development, mainly through knowledge and innovation-driven advancement.
The ability to generate new ideas, for ongoing development and improvement of existing products, services and processes is fundamental to the knowledge-based bioeconomy, as well as to ensure long term success and value creation for the bio-based industry.
Innovations in bio-business strategies and ecosystem development are also among the primary ways that will eventually help realise the nation’s bioeconomic potential. Innovations lead to value creation. Companies gained competitive advantages through the act of innovation. If we are to harness the true potential of innovations, the presence of a conducive ecosystem that encourages and supports new ideas, products, services and work culture must be present. Strategic approaches that will bridge the gap and drive the innovation process from proof of concept to commercialisation are crucial.
In a broader sense, continuous improvement and the hallmark of innovation along the entire bioeconomy value chain is fundamental for a viable bio-based industry development.
Not too long ago, I briefly mentioned Coca-Cola Life, the latest addition to the Coca Cola family that is sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia extract. Coca-Cola Life is a considerably healthier alternative to regular coke, and the product contains one-third less sugar and one-third fewer calories.
The approach taken by Coca Cola, along with the company’s many other innovative initiatives is aimed at producing healthier consumer products in line with the global wellness trend that is currently impacting healthcare bio-businesses worldwide. In 2014, the Coca Cola Company was honoured with the WBM Bio Business Industry Champion of the year award, an international accolade designed to recognise business excellence and innovations in the bio-based sector.
In relating to Coca Cola success stories, perhaps all of us too can share the excitement for the reason that a Malaysian-based company, PureCircle, also a BioNexus status company and the world’s leading producer and marketer of high purity stevia ingredients is currently supplying up to 80% of the world stevia, including those used for Coca-Cola Life as well as Pepsi Next.
There are however, companies that take a slightly different approach towards innovation. These companies focus on providing quality goods and only update their technologies when necessary to a certain level to sustain their competitiveness in the market. Indeed, this method may still be relevant to some products with long lifecycles with limited opportunities for innovation.
The Malaysian bio-based sector for instance is still largely commodity-based. Our agriculture industry is a good example that results in low economic value and income for farmers and for those involved. The current system does not allow for a substantial mark-up or value added benefits.
In the context of a sustainable and inclusive bioeconomy, BiotechCorp aims for the creation of a more value-added and resource efficient economy through the utilisation of its biodiversity and bio-based resources to achieve agricultural productivity, making discoveries in healthcare and adopting sustainable industrial processes. Thus, bio-based innovation is a key component for Malaysia’s transformation towards a bio-based economy, for social and national economic growth.
The bio-based economy includes products and services of very different character and sourced several different industrial sectors. Whether it is bio-based chemicals, bio-cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals and pharma nutrition, sustainable agricultural practices or even biomedical services, the immense growth potential of the bio-based economy is attributed mainly to its cross-cutting nature that spans across a myriad of conventional industries.
That being said, stimulating technological development and innovation across a broad range of bio-based technologies will enable the development of high-value products and services to meet market demand, and generate significant growth in the bio-based industry. Recognising the importance of innovation in these areas will keep Malaysia at the forefront of bioeconomy. Through strategic partnerships and collaborations in many of its initiatives, BiotechCorp is building the needed expertise in the broad field of bioeconomy, expertise which will then benefit bio-based companies.
Being the prime mover for the bio-based industry, BiotechCorp is constantly leading the way for building an impacful bio-based sector in the country, with innovation at its core. The end objective would be to position bioeconomy as a significant economic contributor to the national economy, in line with the country’s economic transformation programme.
This year has seen BiotechCorp winning two prestigious awards, in recognition for its role in spearheading the Bioeconomy Malaysia initiative. Acknowledging its role in planning, building and supporting the growth of the bio-based sector, the organisation was honoured with the WBM 2015 – Bio Business Industry Champion of the Year, an international accolade that was similarly awarded to the Coca Cola Company last year. In addition to that, BiotechCorp is also the winner for the Global Leadership Award 2015 – Biotechnology Sector Company of the Year.
Winning these two esteemed awards is testament to the efforts taken by BiotechCorp so far. It will definitely empower the organisation’s commitment into pushing the bio-based industry to greater height in Malaysia.