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Monday, 3 July 2017

(The Star) Focus on bio-based segments

JOHOR BARU: The state government wants to attract more bio-based, biotechnology and bio-industrial investments into Johor in the coming years.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the focus would be on three bio-based segments namely bio-industrial, bio-health and bio-agri.

“Johor has the right ecosystem to emerge as one of the leading biotechnology hubs in the region,” he said after attending the Hari Raya open house hosted by Pasir Gudang MP Datuk Normala Abdul Samad at Johor Jaya community hall here.

Khaled said bio-based economy was one the new activities which would spearhead and boost economic development in Johor in its quest to become an economic powerhouse in the region.

He said Johor would continue to diversify its economy and go for investments and activities that would create value-added proposition and economic spills over to the people.

“Johor Biotechnology and Biodiversity Corp (J-Biotech) is the body responsible for positioning Johor as one of the leading players in the bio-technology sector,” added Khaled.

He said J-Biotech would work closely with the relevant agencies to attract more biotechnology companies from around the world to set up their operations or manufacturing activities to Johor.

Similarly, Khaled said the J-Biotech’s Johor Bio Talent Development set up in February 2015 was to facilitate talent development for the bio-technology and bio-based industry in Johor.

“The key components of the centre are knowledge and technology sharing, entrepreneur development and research and development activities,” he said.

The centre has developed partnerships with 11 companies and 2,000 job opportunities would be made available by 2018 through partnership with them.

Khaled said that there would be several areas in Iskandar Malaysia dedicated to the biotechnology industry including centralised facilities but the setting up of farms to supply raw materials to the biotech companies would take place outside Iskandar Malaysia.

Iskandar Puteri, in Iskandar Malaysia will house the first bio-based chemical manufacturing plant in the world which is expected to start operations in 2019, creating about 400 job opportunities.

Bioeconomy Corporation senior vice-president (bio-industrial) Zainal Azman Abu Kassim was quoted saying that the Verde Palm Plant would use crude palm oil and palm by-products to produce diacid as an alternative to petroleum-derived chemicals.

Diacid is widely used to produce items such as automotive parts, toothbrush bristles, cosmetics and fragrances.

The plant in Iskandar Puteri is a joint-venture between Sime Darby Bhd and US company Verdezyne Inc based in Carlsbad, California.

The deal was sealed on April 24, 2014, during former US President Barack Obama’s visit to Malaysia.

The ground breaking ceremony of the plan will take place on July 30, and construction will take between 18 and 24 months.