Opening Ceremony Of Biomalaysia 2011 & The 2011 Pacific RIM Summit On Industrial And Bio Energy

By Monday November 21st, 2011 No Comments

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh, Salam 1Malaysia and a very good afternoon

1.         It is indeed a pleasure for me to be here at the ninth edition of BioMalaysia amongst such an eminent group of scientists, inventors, industrialists and entrepreneurs. he work that you do – individually or collectively impacts on the quality of life of the ordinary people, be it for the discovery of healthcare solutions, the drive to ensure food quality and security, the search for sustainable fuel and the creation of a safer and sustainable environment. Your task, simply put, is to create a better quality of life for the present and future generations, and you should take heart that there is nobler purpose in life than to work for the greater good. Let me kick-off this conference by commending each and every one of you for the important work that you do, on a daily basis.

2.         I’m happy to be informed that this year’s edition of the conference is particularly special as   BioMalaysia is also hosting the 2011 Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, the first time this event is being held outside of North America.

3.         I must congratulate the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp) for this collaboration with the US based Bio Industry Organisation or BIO, which I see as a significant milestone towards developing global and regional initiatives for information sharing, innovation exchange and entrepreneurial partnerships, in biotechnology.

4.         BioMalaysia is indeed growing from strength to strength. The growing number of countries participating in both the exhibition and conference is testimony to the increasing value the event garners as a platform for regional discourse and collaboration.

5.         We also welcome the Pacific Rim Summit to our shores. Our climate is perhaps almost similar to Hawaii – where the summit was held for the past five years – but, it goes without saying that we have our own brand of diversity within a robust multicultural sphere which is unlike any other place in the world. I certainly hope that participants of the summit who are here for the first time in Malaysia, will make an effort   to experience and enjoy the myriad of things that are uniquely Malaysian–our food, and culture and of course our famed Malaysian hospitality.

Ladies and gentlemen,

6.         Diversity is of course the hallmark of Malaysia in more ways than one. Not least is our country’s rich bio-diversity heritage. Malaysia is one of 12 mega bio-diverse countries in the world and our forests are host to an estimated 15,000 flowering plant species and 185,000 animal species, accounting for 9% and 16% of the world’s total respectively.

7.         Our biodiversity has indeed given us a strategic advantage in biotechnology. As a nation, we have embarked on an exploration of the full potential of this diversity through the powerful tools that biotechnology provides. We are already seeing the benefits of a Bio-economy derived from this biodiversity and we are ready to uncover the solutions that will certainly emerge from this convergence of science and nature.

8.         Scientific studies suggest that 20% of the estimated 15,000 flowering plant species may possess some medicinal or therapeutic properties and research programmes on bio-mining, high throughput screening and drug discovery from our rich flora have been initiated in our University laboratories and Research facilities. A flagship on insect biotechnology is also in the pipeline to explore the secrets within the myriad of tiny insects that populate our forests. And to further accelerate these discoveries we are certainly very keen to partner with the best of the world. Certainly international gatherings such as BioMalaysia 2011 and the 2011 Pacific Rim Summit is where we hope to form the strategic partnerships between the East and the West to utilise the potential of biotechnology for the good of all societies.

Ladies and gentlemen,

9.         Malaysia is a nation constantly on the move. We are ever in pursuit of our national aspiration to be a fully developed nation by the year 2020 and we are focusing on the core elements that can bring significant changes to the nation’s development and the well-being of our people.  We are pushing the boundaries of transformation to ensure that the changes are truly holistic; encompassing economic, governance, social and political aspects. This is really the core of the Malaysian Government Economic Transformation Programme, or ETP in short.

10.       The ETP is designed to transform Malaysia into a high income nation by 2020. We have identified 12 New Key Economic Areas (NKEA) as focus sectors to drive economic growth and 6 Strategic Reform Initiatives which will enhance Malaysia’s competitiveness. I am very pleased to note that biotechnology projects have created an impact as Entry Point Projects (EPPs) under the NKEAs of Agriculture, Healthcare, Palm Oil & Related Products and also in Oil & Gas. This broad reach across many sectors is precisely why Biotechnology has been identified as a key driver to navigate the nation into a knowledge-based economy.

11.       In the six years since the establishment of the National Biotechnology Policy (NBP), MOSTI and BiotechCorp has made great strides in laying the foundation that will facilitate the creation of a sustainable biotechnology ecosystem. These initiatives have profiled Malaysia as an attractive investment destination for biotechnology research and development, and commercialisation.

12.       Targets set within the NBP framework are strategized to propel intellectual capital, commercialisation of research and development and as a result, the economy as a whole. The Capacity Building or Phase 1 of the Policy came to a successful closure in 2010. Within that time frame:

  • We have rolled out the BioNexus programme; A new global brand supported by a suite of specialised incentives including tax exemptions and a bill of guarantees covering freedom of ownership, freedom to source funds from abroad and freedom to import knowledge workers, amongst others;
  • We have nurtured and built a network of 204 BioNexus companies, 90 in agricultural biotechnology, 72 in healthcare and 42 in industrial biotechnology; and
  • We provided the market with access to research and development facilities by growing and sustaining a network of over 56 labs in publicly funded universities and research institutions under the BioNexus Partners Programme.

13.       In spite of being a new sector in the Malaysian economy, it is encouraging to note that 58% of BioNexus companies are small and medium enterprises poised to expand in the new economy. And encouragingly the top 3% are now listed on exchanges in Malaysia, Australia, London and Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

14.       The Malaysian biotechnology industry is now in Phase 2 of the NBP, extending from 2011 to 2015 and containing within it the commercialisation agenda. In the next 5 years we expect to see significant value creation from efforts sowed in Phase 1. We will leverage on our established strength in manufacturing, to climb the value chain in both bio manufacturing and bio processing.

15.       We will also offer our Bio-focused facilities and parks throughout Malaysia which will provide the supportive environment for the growth of this industry. Bio-XCell, currently being developed in Iskandar, Johor as a dedicated biotechnology ecosystem is ideal for commercialisation activities. Bio-XCell has secured significant investments from India, France and the United States, and as I have been made to understand, the bio manufacturing and bio processing plants there will be operational as early as 2012. Other focused BioParks are being structured in the Northern and Eastern Economic regions, in greater KL and in Sabah and Sarawak.

16.       Having said all that, the question is, “What is in the future for the biotechnology sector in Malaysia?” We have witnessed the incredible discoveries in the life sciences in the last decade. As much as the digital technology impacted our lives, the impact of biological innovation will be just as significant if not more in the coming years. It has been 10 years since the human genome was sequenced and in Malaysia we too realise the value of understanding our own genetic systems through the funding of several key genome projects in our laboratories. We also see the global move towards sustainable bio-resources as the world acknowledges the limitations of our non-bio reserves.

17.       All these, signal a need for us to “up-our- game”, so to speak, and truly embrace the vast opportunities that these new technologies bring, combining them with our rich bio-resources. What results is a Knowledge-based Bio-economy or KBBE that will leverage on the science-driven biotechnology sector. This will synergise the different sectors of our economy, in a strategy of high-income generation through technology innovation based on renewable bio-resources.

Distinguished guests,

18.       I have said often enough that to attain developed nation status, we cannot remain complacent. We must change our mindset in an environment of Business Unusual. We must make that quantum leap towards the transformation we desire. The choice before us is clear. Change is not an option but an imperative. We must change or risk being left behind. We succeeded in transforming Malaysia from an agricultural economy to an industrial one, emerging as one of the largest exporters in the world. Therefore, the challenge now is to make a quantum leap to the next stage of development. I have absolutely no doubt that this is possible with careful planning, clear strategies and firm execution.. The government has placed strong focus on Science Technology and Innovation (STI) as a key element in Malaysia’s transformation strategy.   It necessarily includes the smart management and development of the Bio-economy in which we have some clear advantage.

19.       It is well worth it for us to note that the OECD estimates that the Bio-economy will contribute a global average of 2.7% to GDP. The Bio-economy will also contribute 10-14 new drugs per year over the next 5 years and will be responsible for 10% of chemical production by 2030. Many developed nations have formalised strategies and blueprints for a Bio-economy and are already enjoying its socio-economic benefits. Canada’s Bio-economy, for example, was worth US$86.5 billion in 2010, contributing 7 per cent to GDP and providing 1 million Canadian jobs, directly and indirectly. In Europe, the Bio-economy is worth nearly 2 trillion Euros and provides approximately 22 million jobs.

20.       It is evident that Malaysia is well poised to benefit from having a clear Bio-economy agenda. To make the Bio-economy work for Malaysia, we need to relook at how best to pool and deploy our resources, enhance private-public partnerships not just at local but also international level, build strengths in focus areas, and of course, we need to specialise and enhance service levels.

21.       I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation or MOSTI together with BiotechCorp and its other agencies will roll-out a Bio-economy roadmap for Malaysia by early next year which will complement the National Biotechnology Policy and set a target for high growth in the coming years.

22.       We will be looking as some key focus areas in the industrial, health and agriculture sectors which will leverage on the latest approaches in Bio-mining, Bio-conversions, Bio-extractions and key knowledge technologies such as genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. In short, Malaysia will move swiftly to realize its full potential in bio-technology, and to maximize the benefits from a vibrant bio-economy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

23.       Within this Bio-economy, industrial bio-technology will be a key sector for Malaysia. As the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, Malaysia’s palm oil waste alone holds tremendous opportunity and potential for the creation of high value industrial applications ranging from biofuels to bioplastics that can be generated from its biomass.

24.       Biomass will significantly contribute to bio energy. A recent report forecasts the market value of biomass-generated electricity at USD53 billion by 2020 with biomass capital investment reaching USD37 billion by 2015. Malaysia certainly has the potential and capacity to contribute to and compete in this space.

25.       There are also emerging biomass opportunities for the bio based chemicals and plastics industry. In 2010 the global market for bioplastics achieved estimated sales of USD2.74 billion. This value is expected to grow by 32.4% a year from 2011 to 2015, reaching an estimated value of USD11.14 billion in 2015.

26.       As a manufacturer of plastics products, producing 60% of resins for the industry, Malaysia has the real opportunity to expand and move up the value chain and compete in the bioplastics sector. That being the case, Malaysia intends to put in place a framework and strategy for biomass utilisation to derive the full benefits from oil palm and other agricultural waste which will contribute to energy sustainability and environmental solutions while opening the pipeline for creating other value propositions.

27.       Clearly, biomass, or rather, the process of creating value from it, has the capacity to create a new strategic Bio-economy industry for Malaysia and I am delighted to announce today the launch of Malaysia’s new National Biomass Strategy, with the theme, “Biomass to Wealth”. Developed by Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM), in close collaboration with MIGHT and other key government agencies, universities and business leaders, the Biomass Strategy will hopefully enhance the competitiveness of Malaysia as a Bioeconomy and a biotechnology hub.

28.       Through the creation of new high value industries driven by locally developed innovation, including in bio-based chemicals and bio-energy, the Biomass Strategy will provide the platform for creating 70,000 new jobs. 40,000 of those will be high-skill.

29.       It can also deliver new growth in rural areas; encourage development of new, home-grown technologies; and create more export opportunities. It can also reduce emissions and contribute to a better environment for all. We can reduce methane emissions and use this biogas for energy instead; and in the process we will free up valuable biomass for higher value-added applications.

30.       More importantly, Biomass has the potential to deliver up to RM30 billion in new income for Malaysia and all Malaysians by 2020. The Biomass strategy has a clear action plan with immediate initiatives and new EPPs for government and industry to drive this opportunity. We are excited about the prospects and we are optimistic of performing well in this sector

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

31.       I have highlighted a few key developments in Malaysia’s foray into biotechnology. The rest, I believe you will learn as this conference progresses. I am sure the discourse over the next few days will have an impact on the strategy and direction of biotechnology in Malaysia and at the same time it will build cooperation between global biotechnology leaders. I hope you will make the most of this extraordinary meeting of minds and I wish you all the very best in your deliberations and discussions.

32.       On that note, it is with great pleasure that I declare the BioMalaysia Conference and Exhibition 2011 and the 6th Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy open. Thank you.

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