(Photo Courtesy: The Thailand Board of Investment)
Thailand has met a surge of medical project applications during the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 5th, the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) approved four advanced biotech projects with a combined worth $78 million (2.4 billion baht).
The 4 Biotech Projects
To start with, Thailand approved Thai Kyowa Biotechnologies, a subsidiary of Japan’s Kirin Holdings and the manufacturer of amino acids, to develop Human Milk Oligosaccharide (HMO). It is a prebiotic used in milk powder that can build immunity in the human body. Secondly, Genepeutic Bio was authorized to develop CAR T Cell advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMP) for patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
Other than that, food and beverage manufacturer Fruita Biomed was approved to produce PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoate) bioplastic and PHA bioplastic compounds from organic waste to create packaging for food and medical supplies. Lastly, Thai startup from CU Innovation Hub Baiya Phytopharm is authorized to develop plant-based vaccines and therapeutic proteins, using molecular pharming technology.
“These new and exciting projects reflect investors’ continued interest in Thailand biotech capability,” Secretary General of the BOI Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit said “adding to our strong agricultural base and biodiversity, Thailand has now also a very strong pool of researchers that allow us to move into advanced technology.”
Thailand’s Plan to Invest on BCG Sectors
These approvals are an outcome of Thailand’s plan to revive the economy post COVID-19. The government has prioritized developing the Bio, Circular and Green economy (BCG) model, which consists of agriculture and food; bioenergy, biomaterials and biochemicals; medical and wellness; and tourism and the creative economy. As stated in BOI’s data, BCG sectors’ economic value was around $113 billion and projected to reach $147 billion by 2025 with a whopping 30% growth.
Further, biotechnology is one of the 10 targeted industries under the Thailand 4.0 growth model and has played a strategic role in strengthening Thailand’s competitiveness in the global market.
On top of that, the pandemic has enriched the development and investment in the sectors. In the first half of 2020, Thai and international investors infused $400 million (12.69 billion baht) investment with 50 projects in Thailand, demonstrating a 174% rise in project number and a 123% increase in investment value compared to the same period last year. What’s more, most projects in the investments were medical devices manufacturing related.
Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of the BOI said, “we have approved more than 80 percent of the projects in order to respond to the situation, while paving the way for Thailand’s longer-term development as a manufacturing hub for medical devices and supplies.”
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