Posts tagged healthcare

Biotech entrepreneurship flourishing in Malaysia

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Support programs are developing a strong industry but access to qualified staff remains an issue, says Geneflux Director and biotechnology entrepreneur Dr. Prashanth Bagali

by Jon Southurst

It’s been over four years since the Malaysian government formed the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp), an agency tasked with turning Malaysia’s infant biotechnology sector into a global competitor. BiotechCorp is achieving this with a comprehensive array of programs providing everything from education to entrepreneurial support, investment, training and marketing. Large companies and niche players alike would get the kind of assistance they needed to expand internationally. Geneflux™ Biosciences is one company that took its concept global with a focus on local issues under BiotechCorp’s guidance. Dr. Prashanth Bagali, its Director and co-founder, spoke to us about his company’s experience and the challenge for Malaysia in the 21st century’s preeminent scientific sphere.

The term ‘biotechnology’ refers to the science of life itself. It includes research and techniques involving living organisms from microorganisms to plants and animals, to serve specific applications in improving human health and agriculture. At its cutting edge is genome mapping, cell fusion, gene detection, gene transfer and embryo manipulation. It’s a prestigious, high-value industry with rewards in intellectual property, international sales and reputation among the world’s scientists.

The national interest in biotechnology started as early as the 5th Malaysian plan (1986-1990) but was given due recognition and emphasis starting from the 8th Malaysian Plan (2001-2005).  Before 2007, healthcare biotechnology in Malaysia was an embryo itself. The existing industry was driven by traders, equipment suppliers and reagent vendors, with less than 100 local patents filed of any international importance. That was around the time BiotechCorp was just beginning, and it was into this scene that entrepreneurs Dr. Bagali and partner Ir.Balagaru Naidu arrived to set up a business.

Biotech entrepreneurs and Geneflux founders, Dr. Prashanth Bagali & Balaguru Naidu

Biotech entrepreneurs and Geneflux founders, Dr. Prashanth Bagali & Balaguru Naidu

Geneflux Biosciences registered in 2007 with a focus on the research and development of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) based testing kits, a faster way to detect and analyze small quantities (or volume) of DNA or RNA without the need for full cloning. Their kits would be available at affordable prices to developing countries in Asia and Africa, vital in combating diseases affecting those regions. (more…)

The Economist: good policies creating a strong Penang

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“A combination of low cost and high technology” is the in-a-nutshell reason The Economist gives for the beginnings of Penang’s success in the healthcare and electronics industries. Penang state and its neighboring region on the mainland now account for 21% of Malaysia’s GDP as a result of its technology focus, as well as a strong rule of law, intellectual property protection and ease of doing business.

The road to technology riches was paved in the 1970s when Penang became Malaysia’s first free-trade zone, but the article also credits Penang’s current government for freeing up the local economy further by removing economic privileges and combating corruption and waste. For its part, the federal government has also invested heavily in Penang with massive infrastructure upgrades such as a duplication of the bridge to the mainland and extensions to the main seaport and international airport.

Penang has historically enjoyed a strategic trading position thanks both to its physical location between China, India and Southeast Asia, and the well-connected multi-ethnic mix that reflects this. High-tech industries have created a skilled local workforce of technicians and engineers, the capital Georgetown is enjoying a revival, and foreign companies are moving in once again.

source & article: The Economist

KPJ to build new medical center at Iskandar Malaysia

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A new 400 bed, 280,000 sq ft hospital will be built in the Iskandar Malaysia development region in Johor, featuring “Centres of Excellence” including a heart centre, an aged care centre, cancer centre and a cosmetic and reconstructive centre, plus others. The facility will be a collaboration between specialist hospital operator KPJ Healthcare Bhd and Johor Land Bhd.

The Centre will be built in two phases beginning in 2012, with 150 beds proposed for the first phase. Cost per bed is estimated at around RM1000 (US$329). As with other medical facilities in the Johor region it is aimed at foreign patients (or ‘medical tourists’) as well as locals, promising to offer the highest standard of care in all areas of medicine.

Business Times reports KPJ has embarked on a series of new projects lately, investing between RM50-80 million ($16.4-26.3 million) per hospital for new specialist centres in Bandar Baru Klang, Muar, Pasir Gudang and Kuantan. It also purchased the Sibu Specialist Medical Centre and Sibu Geriatric Health and Nursing Centre in Sarawak in April. KPJ has identified geriatric care as a huge growth sector and has agreed to buy a 51% share of Australia’s Jeta Gardens Waterford Trust for RM19 million ($6.24 million).

The company’s total revenues for 2010 were RM1.65 billion ($542.3 million), up 13% from the previous year.

source & article: Business TImes

15 new initiatives announced for Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme

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Malaysia yesterday announced 15 initiatives, including nine new projects and seven recaps, as part of its Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). According to Prime Minister Najib Razak, the ETP is already bearing fruit despite running for only a short time.

Yesterday’s announcement was the sixth regular update of the ETP, and sees the programme reach 50% (or 65) of its 131 ‘Entry Point Projects’ launched. The 15 new initiatives promise to bring in RM2.77 billion (US$913.8 million) in investment, add RM66.31 billion ($21.87 billion) to Malaysia’s Gross National Income and create 36,595 new jobs by the target year of 2020.

The initiatives (with their national key economic areas) are: (more…)

Malaysia’s healthcare sector looks to long-term wealth creation

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Malaysia’s healthcare sector become a ‘private sector driven engine for economic growth’ under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). The government aims to change the perception of healthcare from a wealth-consuming public service by exploring other facets of the industry, from pharmaceuticals and medical devices to more advanced innovations in services and research. One example is appealing further to health travelers from abroad, usually citizens of wealthier countries seeking quality healthcare at a lower price.

The ETP wants healthcare to generate an incremental Gross National Income of RM35.3 billion (US$11.4 billion)  in the decade to 2020, and will divide projects into ‘quick wins’ for income generation in the immediate future and longer term ‘bets’ on future opportunities. The former consists of pharmaceutical research, insurance and hospital beds, while longer term proposals aim to develop Malaysia as a medical hub with a ‘health metropolis’ at Universiti Malaya and a ‘diagnostic service nexus’ to facilitate international outsourcing through telemedicine (eg; remote surgery where surgeons are not physically in the same place as the patient).

The government will establish a Health Industry Development Corporation to achieve its goals, estimating RM23.3 billion ($7.53 billion) is needed from 2011-20. Only 1% of this will come from the government, with the other 99% intended to come from private sector sources.

source & full article: Business Times

Malaysian LED, tech hardware exports up

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Malaysia is continuing to assert itself as an international supplier of technology hardware. Exports of light emitting diodes (LEDs) to places like Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, the US and Germany was a RM 1.81bn (US$565m) industry in 2009, and is projected to grow by 20% this year.

This news came as the country’s International Trade and Industry Minister, Mustapha Mohamed, opened Osram Opto Semiconductors (M) Sdn Bhd’s LED wafer fabrication plant at Penang’s Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone. It is just one of many positive signs for Malaysia’s technology hardware industry:

“Despite the slow growth performance of the electrical and electronics sector in 2009, Malaysia’s exports of semiconductor devices, integrated circuits, transistors and valves increased by 3.5 per cent to RM92.97 billion from RM89.82 billion in 2008.”

The Minister has been busy keeping up with technology openings. Right after the Osram launch he went on to open a RM300m ($103m) expansion project at B. Braun Penang, a subsidiary of German global healthcare products supplier, B. Braun Melsungen AG. The company plans further expansions costing RM1.7bn ($531m) in Penang by 2013.

source & article: Business Times online

Private sector sees huge opportunities in Asian healthcare

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Asia’s rapidly growing economies and aging populations are too much for their healthcare systems to cope, presenting new chances for private-government tie-ups.

One example is Phillips Healthcare in the Philippines, which opened up a heart center in cooperation with government health authorities, and is able to analyze images sent from all over the country.

As average ages increase across Asia, a rise in heart disorders and infectious diseases could see this kind of partnership become more common; a move that would be welcomed by the industry.

article & source: channelnewsasia.com

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