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EYE on CHINA
SIIC to provide funding to biotech projects
The Supra Integration and Incubation Center (SIIC), an institute dedicated to promoting the domestic biotechnology industry, will start a funding program for the pharmaceutical sector this year.

The center will provide funds for both research institutes and business start-ups, according to the organization’s managing director Soo Whai-jen.

The center plans to provide NT$50 million (US$1.67 million) to each start-up over a three-year period and at least NT$100 million a year for qualified research institutes, Soo said.

The funding program comes as biotech companies and researchers are finding it increasingly difficult to gain financial support, with only a few obtaining funds from venture capital firms.

“We aim to offer the necessary help to companies and research projects, which have business potential, but are unable to gain financial support from the private sector,” Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang said.

The center aims to provide funds to qualified candidates with less red tape, the center said.

Soo said the center will simplify its review process from three stages to one stage and expedite the appropriation process to guarantee the money will be in place one week after approval.

Furthermore, the center will provide funding on a milestone basis, offering its recipients funds based on completion of every stage of a project’s development, he said.

There are currently 10 drug development projects and four medical equipment development cases under review, according to the center.

“The nation’s biotechnology resources focus too much on research and not enough on development,” says SIIC chief operating officer Wang Ling-mei.

“The center’s goal is to increase the rate of research results transformed into final products by allocating more funding to product development and related research project,” Wang added.

Many experts in Taiwan are more willing to write an academic thesis, which requires only 10 experiments, and less willing to create a pharmaceutical product, which needs to pass 100 experiments, Wang said.

“Product development is a tedious, but necessary procedure because the devil is in the details,” she said.

The center also launched a training program, which focuses on acquiring knowledge of medical law, marketing and business planning for experts with academic achievements in biotechnology, with the hope that they will help bridge the gap between the academic field and the pharmaceutical sector.

“The assistance provided by the government can benefit local pharmaceutical firms, which desperately need funding,” Max Chan Chief Financial Officer of local drug maker TaiGen Biotechnology Co said in a telephone interview.

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