Brunei: Halal industry to benefit from new R&D facility

By Julius Hong

AN INTERNATIONAL research and diagnostics firm will be setting up its headquarters in Brunei with huge potential to boost the local halal industry and open up job opportunities.

Sengenics yesterday officially opened its DNA sequencing and microarray facility at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). The total value of the project is expected to exceed US$11 million ($16.5 million) over the next two years.

During the launch, Sengenics Executive Director Dr Arif Anwar, said that Sengenics will make Brunei its main headquarters and

Permanent Secretary (Downstream & Power) at the Prime Minister’s Office Dato Paduka Hj Jamain Hj Julaihi (Front 4th L), UBD Assistant Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Professor David Koh (Back 3rd L), Sengenics Executive Director Dr Arif Anwar (Back 4th L) along with BEDB, UBD and Sengenics management in a group photo at the new facility yesterday. BT/ Julius Hong
Photo: BT/ Julius Hong

has agreed to pump in $9 million into export revenues.

It will focus on two core activities from its new facility, one of which is to embark upon two “novel” halal meat and food related research and commercialisation projects.

“We strongly believe that Sengenics can contribute novel ideas and develop innovative commercial products to economically complement Brunei’s Halal Hub strategy,” said Dr Arif.

“Pivotal factors for choosing Brunei includes its strategic location in Asia combined with the country’s political and economic stability,” he said.

He added that the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) facilitation, taxation and incentive schemes to encourage biotechnology research and commercialisation was also a pulling factor.

Thus far, the firm has already hired five locals, having received over 1,000 applicants and interviewing 78.

“(The reason Sengenics has hired only five of the applicants) is because we do not have the capacity at the moment,” the executive director said.

However, the company plans to expand and hire 20 more employees by April 2016.

The UBD-Sengenics collaboration is part of Brunei Research Incentive Scheme (BRISc) which is an initiative to encourage local capacity building and commercial outreach, said UBD Assistant Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Professor David Koh.

“University-industry partnerships have long been viewed as one of the main drivers of innovation in an economy. We welcome this great opportunity for UBD and Sengenics to cross-learn and collaborate in applied research projects utilising cutting-edge genomics and proteomics technologies,” said Koh.

Sengenics is a genomics and proteomics-based research and diagnostics company with a range of patented technologies and products that are marketed to pharmaceutical companies, scientists and hospitals.

The ceremony was officiated by Permanent Secretary (Downstream and Power) at the Prime Minister’s Office Dato Paduka Hj Jamain Hj Julaihi as the personal representative of the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office and Chairman of the Brunei Research Council.

Also present at the ceremony were BEDB, UBD and Sengenics management.

The Brunei Times