Biotech Boost For Iskandar Malaysia, Johor

Biotech Boost For Iskandar Malaysia, Johor

JOHOR BAHRU: Malaysian Biotechnology Corp Sdn Bhd (Biotech Corp) has announced four key initiatives under the Bio economy Community Development Programme at Bio Johor 2014 Conference & Exhibition here today.

The collaboration proposals were signed by Biotech Corp, Johor Biotechnology and Biodiversity Corp (J-Biotech) and Koperasi Pemuafakatan Kota Tinggi involving four bio-based companies on Bio economy Community Development projects.

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The companies are PureCircle Sdn Bhd (to develop stevia plantation); The Holstein Milk Co Sdn Bhd (to develop dairy farm); BioAlpha (Johor Herbal) Sdn Bhd (to develop herbs farm); and, Flora Hive Enterprise Sdn Bhd (to develop honeybee farm).

These would provide opportunities for iskandar Malaysia, Johor economic activities though adoption of bio-based technologies as well as developing complete bio economy production chain from production of raw materials to processing and manufacturing of final products for the market.

Biotech Corp chief executive officer Datuk Dr Nazlee Kamal said the company has received strong support from Johor state government to drive the bio economy initiatives that would engage the society and increase the state’s economic growth.

“Biotech Corp is working closely with the state through its biotechnology development arm, J-Biotech, which is committed to build thriving bio-based industry and to increase the Iskandar Malaysia, Johor state’s economic productivity through bio economy.

“With the new commercial opportunities in bioeconomy and the Community Development Programme, Johor is poised to contribute over RM100 million to the gross national income by 2020.”

Mohd Nazlee said Johor has 21 BioNexus companies with investment of close to RM250 million todate.

Biotech Corp’s subsidiary, BioXCell, has also set up a biotechnology in Iskandar Malaysia and has attracted investment from multinational companies such as Biocon, GlycosBio and Stelis Biopharma with a total investment close to RM1.5 billion, thus strengthening the state’s position as an emerging biotechnology hub.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin said under the Bio economy Community Development programme, inactive land would be developed through the application of biotechnology, via a contract farming model.

This would increase the value-add components for the agro-based industry and directly increasing the income of farmers, he said.

“Our target is that farmers will be able to earn at least a minimum of RM3,000 per month. The Johor state government is committed in providing the right infrastructure, logistics and support to ensure that this target will be achieved.”

Under Koperasi Pemuafakatan Kota Tinggi, a total of 150 farmers will be involved in the contract farming on about 202.34ha johor land in Iskandar Malaysia.

The National Biotechnology Talent Development Centre will be set up in Johor to address competency gaps in human capital requirement for the biotechnology industry.

Established through collaboration between Biotech Corp’s Industry Centre of Excellence for Biotechnology, J-Biotech and Universiti Malaysia Pahang, the centre is set to begin operation early next year.

Mohamed Khaled said the centre would help produce competent human capital for the biotechnology industry and woo foreign companies to invest in the sector in the state.

Companies could provide opportunities to students to undergo industrial internship to prepare them for the biotechnology industry.

J-Biotech CEO Wan Amir Jeffery Wan Abdul Majid said the centre would be located at the J-Biotech premise at the outset in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor.

“We are not going to build big buildings or infrastructure. We will coordinate with the industry and use their equipment or premise to provide training to students.”

Mohd Nazlee said the training modules and trainers would be provided through public-private partnership in order to develop talent pool to drive the nation’s bioeconomy agenda.

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