Sat, Mar 30, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Canadian biotech firms come back for more

PARTNERSHIPS Several Canadian biotech firms that recently visited Taiwan will soon return to continue to probe prospects for joint ventures and local investment

By Dan Nystedt  /  STAFF REPORTER

Just weeks after Taiwan hosted a group of Canadian biotech firms seeking joint venture and investment partners, results are coming in.

The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei said yesterday that five of the 12 companies will return within the next month, while one is drawing up a joint venture.

TGN Biotech Inc, a Canadian firm specializing in genetically modified pigs in order to produce certain kinds of recombinant proteins used to fight diseases, has visited Taiwan twice and is negotiating with a local firm to set up a joint venture company, according to Majid Dellah, deputy director and trade commissioner of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei.

Though he declined to name the Taiwanese firm involved in the deal, Dellah said TGN Biotech would supply one technology for the joint venture while the Taiwanese partner would offer two technologies.

The other four Canadian firms planning return visits to Taiwan have all entered "official negotiations for technology transfer and investment," Dellah said.

He said most of the Canadian biotech firms that came to Taiwan were looking for either technology transfer agreements or investment funds.

Taiwan has been labeled by international venture capital and biotech firms as a good place for companies to find an Asia-Pacific partner in biotechnology. The nation's affinity for high-tech production and investment and government promises to provide funding for biotechnology and nanotechnology, have enhanced its reputation.

Dellah said that while a number of Canadian firms have come to Asia for biotech cooperative seminars, the group coming to Taiwan "was the biggest" compared to those traveling to South Korea, Japan and Singapore.

The government has been actively seeking to expand the nation's fledgling biotechnology industry.

The government pledged NT$52 billion over the next five years to seed the industry and has since said venture capital firms and banks have made an additional NT$100 billion available.

Canada's biotech industry has grown from 360 firms in 1999 to around 400 firms, with anticipated revenue of US$5 billion this year.

Last year, venture capitalists invested US$4.9 billion in Canadian companies, after investing US$6.6 billion the year before. Canadian venture capital firms are seeking to replenish their war chests with Taiwanese investment funds.

Over the next month, groups from the US and Austria will also visit Taiwan for biotech meetings similar to those held by the Canadians, an official from the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Biotechnology Program Office said yesterday.

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