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Boosting Innovation and Biotechnology in Malaysia

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) is working to make Malaysia a high-income, sustainable, and inclusive country by 2030 through innovation and the use of biotechnology on a commercial scale.

A minister at the agency made this statement at the opening ceremony of the Asian Biohydrogen and Biorefinery Symposium organised by the Sustainable Process Technology Research Center, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). The symposium served as a platform to share the latest developments and innovations in biohydrogen technology, bio-filtration, economic value as well as the potential to convert biomass into high-value products.

Malaysia should and must focus on green technology, renewable energy as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation, added the Minister. It is estimated that Malaysia produces 168 million tonnes of biomass every year. These include rice husk, logs, coconut oil and palm waste. These sustainable resources can be converted into new bio-based products including bioenergy, bio-fertilizers and biomaterials.

The Minister noted that MOSTI believes that Malaysia can increase economic growth through the efficient use of biomass. According to data from the Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation, the stimulated annual growth of 15% is projected to increase from RM149.1 billion in 2020 to RM181.2 billion in 2030. The Minister commended the work that has been done at local universities and research institutes on basic research on hydrogen production from waste materials, not only from the palm oil industry but also from other agricultural industries. Industry players were also urged to switch to bioproducts made from renewable sources to reduce carbon footprint and carbon emissions.

The Vice-Chancellor of UKM stated that the bioeconomy is seen as an important aspect of sustainable consumption and production. He noted that at UKM, a lot of work has been done in faculties, research institutes and centres for basic research and applications in bio-economics. The bio-economy covers various aspects including research and development of bioproducts, business, and policymaking, he explained.

In an earlier article, the same Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, who began tenure at the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) in September 2021, said that the agency’s main focus is to promote the economics of innovation. This includes planning innovation that could enhance the economy of the people and contribute to the world through the export of science and technology. He noted that the Ministry will also improve the participation of individuals who need Mosti’s services to ensure excellence in the field of innovation, science and technology.

The global biotechnology market size was valued at USD 752.88 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.83% from 2021 to 2028. The market is driven by favourable government initiatives owing to the growth of the biotechnology sector in developing countries.

Government initiatives are oriented towards modernizing the drug regulatory pathway, standardizing clinical studies, improving reimbursement policies, and speeding up the product approval process, thereby offering lucrative growth opportunities to the market.

Around 4 out of every 10 drugs are biotech derived, which can be attributed to the growing demand for orphan drugs and personalised medicine. This is driving the influx of emerging and innovative biotechnologies companies, further boosting the market revenue.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also a positive catalyst to market growth. Biotech companies are the frontrunners in the development of drugs targeting COVID-19. In addition, expanding the involvement of the biotechnology industry with diagnostic companies, drug manufacturers, research laboratories, and multinational pharmaceutical companies for developing therapeutic molecules to target COVID-19 is contributing to the market growth.

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