Following is a speech by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr John Tsang, at the Opening Ceremony of the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Multipurpose Purification Pilot Plant at the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology today (June 30) (English only):
Professor Young, Professor Ho, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure today to officiate at the opening ceremony of the GMP Multipurpose Purification Pilot Plant of the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology.
Biotechnology is knowledge-based. It offers enormous opportunities and immense potential in innovation, wealth creation and economic regeneration. If properly developed, it can create a revolutionary impact on our lives.
Innovation and technology are key factors in raising competitiveness in a new economic order. The Government has been playing an instrumental role in cultivating a favourable environment and investing substantially in biotechnology-related R&D, infrastructure and manpower to stimulate development of the biotechnology industry. Through the $5 billion Innovation and Technology Fund, 75 biotechnology-related projects have been supported with funding commitment of more than $200 million so far.
Through our efforts in project funding and infrastructure development, we have witnessed the strengthening of research capabilities in Hong Kong. Over the past few years, we are seeing gradual, but promising, growth of a local biotechnology industry. An encouraging number of biotechnology-related start-ups, driven by researchers-turned-entrepreneurs, have surfaced. Many of them have been founded on the basis of discoveries made through local academic research. For example, the prowess of plasma DNA-based diagnostic technology in providing a safe and non-invasive means for detecting genetic abnormalities in unborn foetuses and diagnosing cancers without biopsy sampling; and rapid, reliable gene chips for early disease detection.
To stay ahead in this competitive global environment, we cannot stand still. We must seek to make the necessary economic linkages in order to further boost our competitiveness as an economic entity. You will agree that our future hinges on how best we can capitalise on the enormous advantage of combining our successful service economy with the great manufacturing centre in the Pearl River Delta.
With 60,000 strong Hong Kong related enterprises in the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong can become the premier research hub to facilitate the technology upgrading of the entire region. With the signing of CEPA, there will certainly be far greater co-operation and interaction by both the public and private sectors on both sides of the boundary in making full play of our complementary assets and abilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, biopharmaceutical holds great promises for treatment of many diseases and substantial financial rewards. It is the fastest growing sector of the highly lucrative pharmaceutical industry and is forecast to be worth some US$50 billion by 2005. From 2000 to 2003, 64 biopharmaceuticals, including hormones, blood factors, vaccines, monoclonal antibody and therapeutic enzymes, have gained marketing authorisation in North America and Europe for human use. To address the void of a GMP infrastructure for purification and formulation of biological products that will impede the development of local biotechnology industry, the Innovation and Technology Commission approved some $10 million in 2002 to establish the GMP Multipurpose Purification Pilot Plant at the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology. The facility, complementing the various existing cell-based manufacturing technology platforms of the Institute, provides an integrated, multipurpose, one-stop biomanufacturing capacity accessible to biotechnology companies and research institutions.
I am confident that the facility will help local biotechnology companies and research organisations seize important opportunities in the biopharmaceutical sector in the years to come. We are pleased that Advantek Biologics (HK) Limited, the first local biotechnology company specialising in blood products, has committed to use the facility for the development of its vaccine and plasma products. I also wish that the new facility, together with the other facilities of the Hong Kong Institute of Biotechnology, will attract important new investments as well, thereby creating a thriving, sustainable local biotechnology economy.
Ends/Wednesday, June 30, 2004