Updated on 17 April 2013
Can anybody explain why life science firms are making a beeline to Malaysia?
India-based Agila Biotech, which is a subsidiary of Strides Arcolab, entered into a $34.4 million (RM107 million) build-and-lease agreement with Malaysian Bio-Xcell, to set up a customized biotech facility in Johor, Malaysia.
Under the agreement, Bio-Xcell will fund approximately $22 million (RM67.32 million), which will cover the construction of the building and will also help the firm in obtaining some of the equipments. Other state-of-the-art equipments, integration services and testing of turnkey project (estimated at $13-to-$15 million) will be funded by Agila Biotech Malaysia. With this deal, Agila Biotech Sdn Bhd (Agila Biotech, Malaysia), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Agila Biotech, will join the likes of Biocon (India), MetE x (France) and Glycos Biotechnologies (US), as early entrants into the Bio-Xcell ecosystem.
This is the second major investment made by a Bangalore-based biotechnology company in Malaysia, for setting up a manufacturing plant, in the last couple of years. The first firm to set up shop in Bio-Xcell was Biocon. The Indian lifescience giant announced in October 2010 that it would make a strategic foreign direct investment (SFDI) of $160 million along with the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp), which is the largest investment made by a foreign firm in the Malaysian biotechnology sector. The investment was made by Biocon for setting up a biomanufacturing and R&D facility in Bio-XCell. The project, which is slated to be operational by 2014, would focus on R&D and production of high-end biosimilars, among other biopharmaceutical products.
Reacting to the Biocon's investments, the then chairman of Malaysian Bio-XCell and CEO of BiotechCorp, Mr Iskandar Mizal Mahmood, said that, "This will be the first high-end biosimilar and biopharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D facility in Malaysia. Biocon will stimulate growth for the sector and provide commercial opportunities for Malaysian biotechnology's SMEs. We can expect an increased presence of Biocon-affiliated global giants growing the sector to new heights. Biocon's strategic investment in Malaysia will propel our industry to the next level. It will be a catalyst in our commercialization efforts, as we enter phase II of our National Biotechnology Policy-the Science to Business Phase."