Mapping a biotech future in Hong Kong

Regina Lau

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Recent biotech achievements in China offer immense opportunities for Hong Kong to enhance her position in biotechnology, one of the most promising industries for coming decades, said Professor Y L Lo, Founding Chairman of the Hong Kong Biotechnology Association, at CityU on 20 January. Professor Lo's lecture, "Biotechnology-the Catalyst of Hong Kong's Future Economic Development?" was the latest in the Distinguished Industrialist Lecture Series, organized by CityU's Faculty of Science and Engineering to foster closer links between the University community and the business sector. "Collaborating with China and participation in i

nternational biotech projects are crucial steps for Hong Kong to establish itself in this mega trend for the 21st century," he told the audience.

Professor Lo, who is also the President (Asia Pacific) of PerkinElmer Life and Sciences (Hong Kong) Limited, a US based biotech company, gave a comprehensive picture of biotech development in the Asia Pacific region, which is set to become the engine for global economic growth. Governments in Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Japan have shown a clear commitment to expanding the biotech industry, which has also experienced booming investment from the private sector. With her growing contributions to the Human Genome Project, breakthroughs in decoding the hybrid rice genome, and production of recombinant drugs and vaccines, China is capable of becoming a future leader in the Asia biotech industry, he said.

"In Hong Kong, the biotech industry is currently very much trade-based. We are lagging behind our neighbors in terms of technological innovation and R&D investment," said Professor Lo. "But with a strong service base, heightened awareness among our entrepreneurs of the huge potential of the life science industry, and our position as China's bridge to the world, Hong Kong is well situated to find a niche in the booming biotech field."

The process of commercialization and technology transfer in biotechnology creates huge opportunities for various sectors, including the legal and fina

nce sectors. Instead of starting from scratch, Hong Kong should focus on the advanced stages of the process, Professor Lo said. "Immense opportunities in servicing and intellectual property protection at the advanced stage of the process are waiting to be explored." 



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