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November 2, 2010

Malaysia Attracts Biotech Companies

Investment: Government announces drug and chemical projects for new industrial park

Mike McCoy

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The Malaysian government has enticed three companies to set up biotechnology-based manufacturing plants in the country.

Biocon, a leading Indian drug company, will spend about $160 million to build a biomanufacturing and R&D facility in Bio-XCell, a biotechnology industrial park being set up in Johor, Malaysia. Targeted to open by 2014, the Biocon plant will manufacture "biosimilars"—close copies of existing biologic drugs—and other biopharmaceutical products.

"This will be the first high-end biosimilar and biopharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D facility in Malaysia," said Iskandar Mizal Mahmood, chairman of Bio-XCell, at a press conference in Malaysia. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Biocon's chairman, added that her firm picked Malaysia for its good infrastructure and attractive tax incentives.

Two industrial biotech firms announced their own Malaysian projects this week at the BioMalaysia 2010 conference in Kuala Lumpur, the country's capital. Metabolic Explorer, a French company, revealed plans to build a 1,3-propanediol plant "with substantial financial backing" from the Malaysian government. Initial capacity for propanediol, a versatile intermediate, will be 8,000 metric tons per year. The firm's ultimate capacity goal is 50,000 metric tons.

U.S.-based Glycos Biotechnologies signed a definitive agreement with Bio-XCell to build an industrial biotech plant in the park by 2012. Starting with glycerin and fatty acids from Malaysia's tropical oil processing industry as raw materials, Glycos plans to make industrial chemicals. CEO Richard Cilento said the company's first target will be isoprene, a key raw material for the tire rubber industry. The firm says it can also make propanediol, succinic acid, and lactic acid.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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