Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Opportunities in Biobusiness: Creating Wealth with Biology

Anyone who is looking to invest should seriously consider Asia. This is the fastest growing region that offers great opportunities. With its population rapidly moving up the socioeconomic hierarchy, there are unlimited opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs to create value and wealth. One area that generates lots of excitement is “biology” or “biotechnology” to be more specific.

Biotechnology is an age-old technology that has evolved tremendously to meet the modern requirements of humankind and at same time contributes towards the well-being of the environment. Many successful bioentrepreneurs have proven that the popular notion that scientists can’t make money is merely a myth. What is required is probably a good sense of business orientation, some knowledge in finance, marketing, and other entrepreneur skills. Not to forget perseverance and the right mindset.

Recently I read a book authored by Prof. Paul Teng of Nanyang Technological University Singapore – “Bioscience Entrepreneurship in Asia: Creating Value with Biology”. One will be surprised by the various means offered by biology for the creation of value and wealth. This area is not just limited to highly skilled personnel, scientists or huge multinationals but the doors are open to people from all walks of life and for small entreprises too. One simple example is the production of planting materials using tissue culture techniques. Once the skills and the inner works of tissue culture are mastered, anyone can start a ‘production line’ to produce quality planting materials. There is huge potential and market in this area – from producing for plantation to nurseries and household. The plants too can vary from fruits trees to ornamental, commodities, herbs, and timber.

Biopesticides and biofertilizers, anyone? There are numerous options in these areas as well. Not to mention production of food, organic acids, enzymes, vitamins, and amino acids through biofermentation.

Have you ever imagined a mushroom business? This can lead to the production of food and nutraceuticals.

What I have mentioned here are just a few examples. There are unlimited options. A good approach might be some joint ventures with research institutes and scientists who could offer their expertise for beginners. A number of research institutes in Malaysia such as MARDI and FRIM offer licenses to those interested in using their technology for commercialization. With the incentives and support provided by the government through the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation, the dream of owning a bioenterprise is within reach.

Furthermore, through this industry, bioentrepreneurs are able to contribute to the wellbeing of the nation and community as products, technology and services developed using biotechnology could help to enhance the quality of life, food security, and reduce negative impact to the environment.

The good news is, in Asia the industry has not reached its saturation point and there are unexploited market, products, technology and services. One just has to be innovative and bark the right tree.

For those who are interested to read the book, look for Bioscience Entrepreneurship in Asia: Creating Value in Biology, Paul S. Teng, 2008. World Scientific.

by Mahaletchumy Arujanan

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