Ambition and reality in Malaysia's biotech industry
For nearly a decade, Malaysia has been embracing research and development to stimulate its economic growth.
In 1996, the country launched its so-called Multimedia Super Corridor as a destination for information technology companies and high-tech research. In 2003, the government announced its BioValley project to attract biotechnology research and development projects. And last week it revealed its new, government-run Malaysian Biotech Corporation (see Malaysia to launch US$26 million biotech fund).
But does the real state of Malaysian biotechnology measure up to its ambition? In this article, CNETAsia editor Cordelia Lee says that so far, it hasn't.
The Multimedia Super Corridor, she says, was plagued with problems of bureaucracy and an emphasis on property development at the expense of funding and human resources. She argues that without significant changes, the drive for excellence in biotechnology might also stall.
The same obstacles remain, Lee notes: limited access to funding, a shortage of talent, wary investors and inadequate laws for protecting intellectual property. Competition from Singapore is also a difficult issue.
Malaysia has a long way to go in biotechnology, she says, but there is no doubt over the government's commitment to this emerging industry.