Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (DuBiotech), a member of TECOM Investments, has continued to strengthen its position as the Middle East’s premiere free zone business park dedicated to the development of the life sciences industry.
In 2012, DuBiotech delivered exceptional growth, as 40 commercial licences were issued compared to 21 in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 50%, taking the total number of companies based in the free zone to 126. The business centre in the lab building is also now 100% occupied with a mix of both multinational and small and medium sized firms.
The year began with a 20% occupancy rate for warehouses, however, over the course of 2012 that increased to 75% – with the space being utilised by a combination of pharmaceutical, food, environmental and medical equipment companies such as, Bayer Middle East, Lupin Middle East, Life Technologies, Sobi Middle East and Wockhardt.
Marwan Abdulaziz Executive Director of DuBiotech and TECOM’s Sciences Cluster, said, “2012 was an exceptional year of growth for DuBiotech. We have made significant progress in all areas of the business and the numbers speak for themselves. However, it was also undoubtedly a year of major collaboration, through the signing of MOUs with key industry partners and conferences organised with our peers in the sector, as well as our close relationship with new business partners to help them get established in the UAE.”
Two new projects in 2012 saw DuBiotech move into the provision of manufacturing and education facilities. The first manufacturing facility to launch at DuBiotech was Pharmax Pharmaceuticals, which established an Dhs40m custom-built factory that spreads over an area of 90,000 sq feet.
In addition, Foremarke Hall, the prep school for the popular British private school Repton, signed a development agreement with DuBiotech, which will cover 25,978 square metres and will enable the school to cater for 1,280 children when fully operational. Foremarke Hall will be the first educational facility in DuBiotech, built by international construction firm Brookfield Multiplex and is due to open in September 2013.
Sobi Biopharmaceuticals, a leading integrated biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of innovative therapies and services to improve the lives of patients with rare diseases, also established operations in DuBiotech in 2012. Their launch coincided with a major conference on ‘Rare Diseases and Genetics in the Middle East’, part of the Life Sciences Foresight Series, which explored ways of improving diagnosis, research and treatment of rare diseases.
In addition to all these new facilities, existing business partners, Firmenich, the international perfumery and flavour chemicals producer, and Maquet, a leading provider of medical products, therapies and services for operating rooms and intensive care units, expanded their operations in DuBiotech, signalling their ongoing commitment to the UAE market.
The majority of companies that joined DuBiotech in 2012 came from India and the USA; however, there were also a number of new companies from countries across Europe and the Middle East region. They join existing key industry players in the park, including: Pfizer, Amgen, Merck Serono, Bristol-Myers Squibb and IFF.
2012 also marked the signing of two significant MoUs and two conferences hosted on important topics for the biotechnology industry. These events highlight DuBiotech’s intent to be, not only a committed business partner to companies setting up in the free zone, but also a facilitator of investment, innovation and knowledge-sharing for the wider life sciences community.
The first MOU was signed with the Indian Drug Manufacturer’s Association (IDMA) and the second was with the UAE Ministry of Health. The former, sees a strengthening of ties between the life sciences communities in the UAE and India, facilitating business opportunities, the promotion of two-way investment flow, and the exchange of information.
The MOU with the UAE Ministry of Health demonstrated the Ministry’s continued support for DuBiotech and officially recognises the wide range of activities and operations that can be undertaken in the free zone. These activities include: operating scientific offices; the import and re-export of pharmaceutical and medical devices and equipment; and the manufacture and production of these products.
In keeping with its efforts to continuously push the boundaries of the life sciences industry in the Middle East, DuBiotech also launched its Life Sciences Foresight Series. The first conference, ‘The Future of the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Industry in the UAE’ provided a forum for industry experts to look at key trends and challenges, discuss existing regulations, and to identify strategies for the sustainable development of the industry as a whole.