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Brunei praised for boosting R&D
Publication Date : 09-10-2013
Brunei has been beefing up its investment in research and development (R&D) combined with targeting niche markets as a strategy to encourage economic diversification, said the Oxford Business Group (OBG).
In an economic update published on its website on October 7, the publication said that Brunei had long been committed to expanding R&D, with the government in 2011 announcing plans to step up spending to one per cent of the gross domestic product.
At the time, the government identified the sultanate's rich biodiversity and educated workforce as key factors in promoting domestic R&D and attracting overseas investors to partner in projects, said OBG.
It added that under the 10th National Development Plan, launched in 2012, greater emphasis was given to promoting innovation, with funding increased and a focus on using R&D to create marketable products.
There has been a focus on R&D for halal products which is line with the government's emphasis on establishing a strong and diverse industry as well as generating syariah-compliant goods and services, OBG noted.
On September 18, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) signed a memorandum of understanding with biopharmaceuticals firm BioLeaders Corporation, a South Korean company which will work with the Halal Industry Innovation Centre to develop and produce Brunei Darussalam halal-certified products for both regional and international markets.
Another ongoing research project is aimed at the commercial production of naturally sourced astaxanthin, an antioxidant that is extracted from a form of algae and is used as an ingredient in nutraceutical products, OBG noted.
In June, the MIPR's Department of Fisheries and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation inked an agreement to cooperate on research to determine if the required microalgae can be cultivated locally, and to work towards developing commercial astaxanthin extraction techniques that are halal.
OBG said though it is increasing funding for R&D, the sultanate will face stiff competition from other countries in its efforts to attract skilled researchers and overseas support.
However, the government hopes that foreign investors and research agencies will see the sultanate as a gateway to the wider Asean market, and even to the broader Muslim community, it said.
"Though there are no guarantees that any of the R&D projects under way will deliver commercial success, it does appear that Brunei Darussalam has done its homework in identifying specific areas where there is an opening for new products and is creating a climate in which innovation can flourish," said OBG.