Fri, Mar 27, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Cabinet proposes venture capital fund to promote biotech

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet yesterday vowed to turn biotechnology into the country’s third “trillion-dollar industry” in 10 years, joining the semiconductor and flat-panel industries, which each generate more than NT$1 trillion (US$29.5 billion) a year in revenue.

“Biotechnology is a mainstream global industry that Taiwan can’t miss,” Minister Without Portfolio Chang Jin-fu (張進福) said at a press conference.

Under the plan, the Cabinet will initiate a fund-raising campaign to establish a NT$60 billion venture capital fund that would focus on biotechnology. The government’s National Development Fund will take a 40 percent stake and the remaining 60 percent will be controlled by the private sector.

The government hopes to raise initial capital of between NT$7.5 billion and NT$10 billion and attract another NT$80 billion from private sector.

“With the venture capital fund, [the government] will be taking a positive approach to seeking potential investments in bio-tech industries, including agricultural biotechnology. We hope to double the production value of the industry in four years,” Chang said.

Government data indicates that private-sector investment in biotechnology has shown signs of stagnating since exceeding NT$20 billion for the first time in 2001. Public-sector investment has averaged around NT$1.2 billion a year since then.

Chang said the country’s biotech sector was still budding, with a total production value of NT$130 billion per year and a total business volume of NT$200 billion in 2007.

The domestic biotech industry accounted for a small portion of the global market, Chang said.

The Executive Yuan said the global pharmaceutical industry was worth US$712 billion in 2007, while the medical device industry was worth US$194 billion.

Chang said the government would proceed with the plans to establish a medical device industry in Hsinchu and a pharmaceutical industry in Taipei City’s Nangang District (南港).

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