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Kalbe Farma Inaugurates First Biotech Factory

(Jakarta, 1st March) PT Kalbe Farma has inaugurated its first biotechnology-based drug factory in what has been hailed as a milestone in the industry.

The publicly listed pharmaceutical company invested Rp 500 billion (US$35 million) to build the factory in Cikarang, West Java, and another Rp 200 billion for research and development, including technology transfer.

"The inauguration of this drug ingredient and biological product factory is part of Kalbe's commitment to take the initiative and help create an integrated pharmaceutical industry," Kalbe Farma president director Vidjongtius said in his speech at the factory's inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Health Minister Nila Moeloek, who also attended the event, said the factory marked significant progress for Indonesia's pharmaceutical industry.

"What Kalbe has constructed here is a great leap," Jokowi said after touring the factory. "Everything uses biotechnology and everything is automated with robotics. I think this is the kind of investment and technological innovation we need."

Nila echoed Jokowi's sentiment, saying the factory was a "transformation" and a "leap from chemical ingredients to biotechnological ones."

"This is an extraordinary technological achievement," she said.

The factory, which has a production capacity of 9 million units, has already started the production of erythropoietin (EPO), a protein that stimulates red blood cell production and is used in dialysis and other treatments. Kalbe Farma also plans to produce insulin, cancer-treating monoclonal antibodies and three other drugs within five years. (kmt/bbn).

Source: The Jakarta Post



Talented Young Scientist Programs, A Scientist Exchange Program Implementation For Improving Capacity Building Of Young Indonesian And Chinese Human Resources

Jakarta, October 25th, 2017, the Chinese delegation headed by the Deputy Director General of the China Science and Technology Exchange Center (CSTEC), under supervision of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) – Mr. Ge Pu conducted a working visit to the Ministry of Research Technology and Higher Education (MoRTHE). He was accompanied by Mr. Zhang Nan, Acting Director for Asian, Ms. Yu Qianwen, Project officer, Mr. Chen Yuheng, interpreter and a personal assistant, Mr Liu, the Chinese Embassy. While Indonesian delegates chaired by Nada Marsudi, Head Bureau of Cooperation and Public Communication – MoRTHE. Attending the meeting also representatives from some universities, ie Dr. Edwan Kardena (ITB), Mr. Amir UGM), Mr Sudi and Ms Dewi (BATAN), Mafaza (LIPI), Annisa Pranowo, Supriyadi, and Baginda (MoRTHE).

During the meeting, Nada Marsudi explained on the chronology of Indonesia and People Republic of China (PR China) bilateral relation, when both Countries initiated to strengthen the cooperation in Science and Technology, by signing the Indonesian and Chinese MoU on ST on 2011. Since then, many activities have been done, including the 1st Indonesian and Chinese Science and Technology Exhibition that was conducted in Jakarta on the same year, 2011.

Nada also appreciated the great cooperation of colleagues from MoST PR China and the Chinese Embassy, for their excellent cooperation from the 1st up to the 5th Indonesia and China Session of the Joint Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (JCSTC) meetings. This meetings were conducted reciprocally both in Indonesia and Beijing from the period of 2011 – 2017. The last meeting was the 5th Session of the Indonesia China JSTC meeting, which was held in Beijing, 28th-29th, 2017.

Topics that were discussed covering (i) The Joint Laboratory on High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor, (ii) The Joint Laboratory on Biotechnology, (iii) The China-Indonesia Technology Transfer Center, (iv) The Scientist Exchange Programs – which is followed up by CSTEC. There were also two additional new initiatives that were proposed by Indonesia are (a) a joint research center on port construction and disaster controlling – proporsed by ITB, as well as (b) Science Technology Park (STP) development by the Indonesian MoRTHE.

Moreover, Nada also shared the information that the Indonesian MoRTHE will assist the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Cultural Affairs for conducting the 3rd High Level Meeting of the People-to-People Exchange Mechanism (P2EM) in Jakarta, Solo, Yogyakarta on November 26th – 29th, 2017. Especially on Science, Technology and Higher Education (STHE) issues, there will be the Indonesia China Scientific Forum on Science and Technology, which is hoped to be conducted on November 27th,2017 at the Ministry premises. This will be an excellent forum for reporting and evaluating all of the Indonesian and Chinese bilateral cooperation on STHE.

Mr. Ge Pu, then explained on the Talented Young Scientist Program (TYSP). This is the Chinese Government’s International mobility scheme, with the purpose to cultivate the science and technology personalities together with other developing Countries. In the case for young Indonesian scientists, this program could be utilized for expanding the bilateral cooperation between two Indonesian and Chinese institutions or for expanding knowledge of young Indonesian scientists when they conduct research in China from 6 months up to 1 year. Every young Indonesian scientist will receive ¥12,500 per month, with the maximum of 12 months, while they are working with the Chinese teams. More info on the TYSP could be searched

Furthermore, Mr. Ge Pu also referred to statement from HE President Xi Jinping, during the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International cooperation dated on May 14th, 2017, which stated that the PR China would like to enhance the existing of STHE cooperation with all International partners, based on the Science and Technology People-to-People Exchange Initiative, which is in the upcoming 5 (five) years, 2,500 young International scientists are invited to PR China for conducting a short term research (6 month – 1 year). In addition, PR China will also conduct training programs for 5,000 foreign scientists, engineers and managers, and setting up 50 (fifty) joint laboratories in all over the world.

Source: Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia

Indonesia and Belarus are Strengthening The Bilateral Cooperation in Science and Technology Cooperation

On October 17-18, 2017, the Directorate General of America and Europe, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, HE Ambassador Mohamad Anshor and the Belarusian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, HE Andrei Dapkiunas, chaired the Sixth Session of the Intergovernmental Belarusian-Indonesian Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Hermitage Hotel Jakarta 17 October 2017.

Referring to the meeting, Indonesia and Belarusia agreed to intensify trade, economic and investment cooperation between the countries and discussed.

The results of the joint commisions, amongst others

(i) assessing the increase of the supplies of the machinery produced by the Belarusian joint stock companies “MAZ”, “BelAZ” and “MTW”,

(ii) finalizing the future the implementation of the domestic procedures, required for the entry into force of the Intergovernmental Belarus-Indonesia Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation, signed in March 2013 during the state visit to Indonesia of the President of the Republic of Belarus A.Lukashenko,

(iii) Resuming the work on the draft Intergovernmental Agreement on Promotion and Mutual Protection of Investments,

(iv) working more closely with the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture of Indonesia, following agreement/meeting on October 10, 2017, in order to issue permits for the supply of milk products from the enterprises of the JSC «Savushkin product», located in the Belarusian cities of Brest and Pinsk. It was also decided at the Joint Commission to set up working groups on cooperation in the fields of industry and agriculture.

(v) Encouraging the bilateral cooperation on science and technology cooperation, welcoming the second meeting of the Belarusian-Indonesian Joint Working Group (JWG) on Cooperation in the Field of Science, Technology and Higher Education around 16-18 November 2017 in Minsk, Belarus.

Especially on the Science and Technology Cooperation, Nada Marsudi explained the chronology of the MoU on Scientific and Technological Cooperation RI-Belarus, which was signed on March 19th, 2013. She also informed the Meeting that the Ministry of Research Technology and Higher Education (MoRTHE) Indonesia hosted the 1st Indonesian-Belarus Joint Working Group (JWG) Meeting on Science, Technology (and Higher Education) on 15-16 December 2015.

Nada Marsudi also shared recent Indonesian STHE policy, the MoRTHE International Programs, as well as the ten priority research areas as formulated in the RIRN (the national focus/ priority research areas), 2017-2045. Those are including (i) Food and Agriculture, (ii) Health and Medicine, (iii) Energy (renewable and alternative energy), (iv) Information and Communications Technology (ICT), (v) Defence Technology, (vi) Advanced Material including Nanotechnology, (vii) Transportation, (viii) Maritime,

(ix) Disaster Management and

(x) Social Science and Humanism.

In addition, the Indonesian MoRTHE also will finalize

(i) Agreement on Higher Education and

(ii) Agreement on Training Engineering and Specialists. The last agreement will support the vocational higher education program of the Indonesian MoRTHE.


Source: Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia

Siapkan Dana Rp69 Miliar, Surveyor Akan Bangun Laboratorium Terpadu

PT Surveyor Indonesia akan membangun laboratorium terpadu, salah satunya untuk pengkajian pelumas. Direktur Utama Surveyor Indonesia M. Arif Zainuddin mengatakan, hal tersebut dilakukan dalam upaya meningkatkan mutu terhadap konsumen. Laboratorium ini akan didirikan di Jawa Barat, tepatnya di wilayah Sentul.

"Ke depan, kami pun akan membangun Laboratorium Pengujian Pelumas dalam meningkatkan mutu terhadap komoditas kebutuhan konsumen. PT Surveyor Indonesia akan mengembangkan uji terkait mutu SNI pelumas dimana terdapat banyak varian pelumas yang beredar di pasaran," ujar Arif di Kementerian BUMN, Selasa (7/11/2017).

Terkait dengan dana, M. Arif Zainuddin menjelaskan, pihaknya tengah menganggarkan kurang lebih sekitar Rp53,7 miliar. Dana tersebut akan digunakan sebagai pengadaan alat seperti mesin dan proyek pembangunan laboratorium.

"Investasi laboratorium terpadu yang sudah pasti sekitar Rp45 miliar untuk mesin dan peralatan di luar tanah dan bangunan. Tapi, jika termasuk tanah dan bangunan total Rp53,7 miliar," paparnya.

Arif juga mengatakan, laboratorium terpadu yang akan dibangun di kawasan tersebut tidak hanya pengkajian pelumas. Tetapi juga terdapat laboratorium seperti ban dan velg, laboratorium emas, laboratorium lingkungan, dan laboratorium baja.

Total investasi untuk keseluruhan pengadaan laboratorium tersebut sekitar Rp69,2 miliar. Dengan rincian laboratorium pengujian pelumas Rp53,7 miliar, laboratorium mesin velg dan ban sebesar Rp3 miliar, laboratorium pengujian baja dan peralatan mesin Rp1 miliar, laboratorium penelitian lingkungan Rp3 miliar, dan laboratorium emas senilai Rp8,5 miliar.

Arif mengatakan, pembangunan laboratorium ini diharapkan mampu menunjang kinerja perusahaan di masa yang akan datang. Pengadaan gedung secara keseluruhan diprediksi selesai akhir tahun, yakni adalah laboratorium pelumas, emas, dan lingkungan. Sementara yang lain, masih membutuhkan standar dan akreditasi tertentu.

"Ini akan jadi laboratorium terpadu, yang lain tersebar sesuai permintaan. Sekarang gedung baru kita bangun dan mesin dalam proses pengadaan. Yang pasti siap untuk operasi laboratorium pelumas, emas, lingkungan. Kalau velg dan baja ini di tahun depan pelaksanaan," pungkasnya.

Sumber Berita : Warta Ekonomi

Four New Elements to be Added to Periodic Table

Kosuke Morita, leader of the Riken team, with the new table in Wako, Japan, on December 31, 2015.

(CNN) Elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 have formally been recognized by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the U.S.-based world authority on chemistry. The organization's announcement on December 30 means the seventh row of the periodic table is finally complete.

It's the first time the table has been updated since 2011, when elements 114 (Flerovium) and 116 (Livermorium) were added. Devised by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869, the table categorizes chemical elements according to their atomic number.

"The chemistry community is eager to see its most cherished table finally being completed down to the seventh row," said Jan Reedijk, president of the Inorganic Chemistry Division of IUPAC, in a statement.

"IUPAC has now initiated the process of formalizing names and symbols for these elements temporarily named as ununtrium, (Uut or element 113), ununpentium (Uup, element 115), ununseptium (Uus, element 117), and ununoctium (Uuo, element 118)."

A Russian-American team at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California discovered elements 115, 117 and 118, while Japanese researchers were credited for discovering element 113.

All four elements are not found in nature, and were synthetically created in laboratories. Until now, these elements had temporary names and symbols on the periodic table as their existence was hard to prove. Since they decay extremely quickly, scientists found it difficult to reproduce them more than once.

Japanese researchers said their search for element 113 began by "bombarding a thin layer of bismuth with zinc ions travelling at about 10% the speed of light." By doing so, they would theoretically fuse, forming an atom of element 113.

"For over seven years we continued to search for data conclusively identifying element 113, but we just never saw another event. I was not prepared to give up, however, as I believed that one day, if we persevered, luck would fall upon us again," said Kosuke Morita, the lead researcher at Japan's RIKEN group.

"Now that we have conclusively demonstrated the existence of element 113, we plan to look to the uncharted territory of element 119 and beyond."

With the discovery process now over, researchers have another tricky task at hand: coming up with permanent names and symbols for the elements.

According to the IUPAC, new elements can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist.

After the proposed names are submitted, they will be open for public review for five months before the organization makes a final decision.



Shell Opens Lubricant Plant in Indonesia

As part of its continued growth strategy, Shell recently opened its latest lubricant blending plant in Indonesia. The facility, which is located north of Jakarta and sits on 246,000 square feet of land, strengthens Shell’s global supply chain and brings world-class lubricant production capability to Indonesia.

The plant features automated lubricant blending, filling and packaging technology, and is equipped with a quality-control system that tests lubricants at all stages of production to ensure products meet specifications. As part of the focus on quality products, the facility will also have a dedicated lubricant-testing laboratory.

Capable of manufacturing 120,000 tons of finished lubricants a year, the new plant will produce Shell’s leading lubricant brands, including Shell Helix (passenger car motor oil), Shell Advance (motorcycle oil), Shell Rimula (heavy-duty engine oil), Shell Spirax (transmission oil) and other industrial lubricants.

These products will support Indonesia’s growing demand for vehicle motor oils and other lubricants for applications in sectors such as mining, power generation, transportation and the growing infrastructure building sector in the country.

Previously, Shell has imported lubricants to Indonesia. With the new lubricant plant, the company will be able to manufacture and supply a full range of locally produced, high-quality motor oils, transmission oils and industrial lubricants to the Indonesian market.



RI-UK Signing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on R&I Partnership

RI-UK agreement on research and innovation partnership marked by the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Research and Innovation Partnership at the Indonesian State Palace on Monday, 27 July 2015. The signing were executed by HE Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education Mohamad Nasir on behalf of the Government of Indonesia, and HE Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Maude of Horsham on behalf of The United Kingdom. The signing were witnessed by HE  President of Republic Indonesia Ir. Joko Widodo and HE Prime Minister David Cameron along with HE Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, HE Ambassador Moazzam Malik, HE Ambassador Hamzah Thayeb, Director General for America and Europe for Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mrs. Dian Triansyah Dhani and Secretary General for Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education Mr. Ainun Na’im.

Through the signing of the MoU, RI and UK agree to execute research and innovation partnership, including research based on science excellence, in areas that make maximum contribution to Indonesian economic development. Some program fund will prioritize the areas of energy and climate change, the maritime, urbanisation (to be interpreted broadly to cover sustainable living, transportation, infrastructure and urban design), food security and capacity building of the science, technology and innovation.  The research will be funded by the Government of Indonesia and by the Government of United Kingdom through the Newton Fund. In the field of education, both Countries agreed to implement cooperation on joint research and publication, which was agreed during the working visit of HE Minister David Willets MP to Indonesia, during the 2nd Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Education in March 2014.

On this occasion, HE Mohamad Nasir also representing the LAPAN Chairman, Thomas Djamaluddin, to sign the MoU between the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) and LAPAN regarding the collaboration in Civil Space Activities. Indonesia became the first Southeast Asia’s country visited by HE Prime Minister David Cameron since winning the election last May. This visit meant by the Prime Minister to enhance the cooperation between the United Kingdom and South Asia Countries.

Hopefully in the future, the bilateral cooperation in the field of science, technology, higher education and innovation of both countries could be more promoted, so the designated programe on the MoUs could be implemented significantly and could benefit both Indonesian and Brittish societies, as well as the world society.



Mark Mobius views Asean among most exciting investment targets

KUALA LUMPUR: Templeton Emerging Markets Group’s executive chairman views Southeast Asia as among the most exciting investment destinations available to emerging and frontier market investors.

In his newsletter to investors, Mark Mobius says the range of opportunities available to investors is remarkable.

This ranges from the highly developed and technologically sophisticated Singapore market through emerging markets in various stages of development such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines to exciting frontier prospects such as Vietnam and Myanmar.

This also comes at a time as Asean has set ambitious plans for a new Asean Economic Community (AEC) to come to fruition in 2015.

Mobius is enthusiastic to see the outcome of discussions among Asean members to prepare for the AEC and as they work out the fine points.

The AEC will have a very significant impact in Asia, especially as the role of Asian markets in the global economy has grown significantly in recent years, he says and he expects this trend to continue in the future.

Many of these countries have also made fundamental improvements to their economies, and he thinks these changes are here to stay.

Asean – founded in 1967 -- is a strong regional economy made up of 10 members: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR (Laos), Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The 10 individual Asean members already have attractive characteristics for investors, including favorable demographic profiles, abundant natural resources and low-cost labour, among other factors.

Combined into a single market, the population exceeds 600 million and a wide range of economic attributes from the financial, trading and technology skills available in Singapore to the largely untapped reserves of labour and natural resources in Myanmar that, when combined, could well represent far more than the sum of their parts.

When the AEC was mooted, it was envisaged to be: (a) a single market and production base, (b) a highly competitive economic region, (c) a region of equitable economic development and (d) a region fully integrated into the global economy.

“Because Asean countries have to work toward a collective vision and cooperative spirit when AEC fully comes together, we think it should strengthen their partnership, even though there has been some outlying resistance and concerns about some aspects.

“If it is fully implemented later this year, the AEC represents an opportunity to further promote cross-border trade and connect economies, companies and people within the region in the years to come,” he said.

Mobius cites a recent study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group that businesses in the region are remarkably bullish about the AEC.

A total of 80% of those surveyed regarded the AEC as a business opportunity for their firm and believed it would help accelerate growth in their respective industries.

Business executives also acknowledged that progress has been made over the years in most sectors, and two-thirds of the companies responding to the survey said they were adjusting their product offerings and upgrading their organizations and supply chains.

However, Mobius is quick to point out also that some business executives in Asean also expressed concern that governments would not wholeheartedly facilitate the free flow of goods across the region. In our view, the enviable location of the proposed AEC, bordering the fast-growing economic giants of India and China, could be a major potential benefit for companies within Asean as well as investors.

The region lies on one of the “one belt, one road” trade routes identified by the Chinese government as significant focuses for investment. Chinese firms are already active investors in countries such as Vietnam, taking advantage of significantly lower wage rates in comparison with Southern China, and ambitious plans for transport infrastructure improving China’s links with Southeast Asia are under development.

International trade could become a further stimulus to growth for Southeast Asia, with some of the countries of the region closely involved in major free trade initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently under negotiation, while also looking to deepen intra-regional trade links.

“Asean has seen continuing population growth over the last 15 years, totaling 620 million people in 2014 and expected to increase further to close to 670 million by 2020, a growth of about 30% from the 514 million in 2000.

“We believe this growth potential, combined with increasing per capita incomes and relatively younger population structures, could further drive the growing consumer demand in the region as a reduction in the cost of doing business, improved labour and capital movement and the streamlining of taxation can only increase the opportunity for growth,”  he says.

As a result, Asean economies are increasing domestic consumption of a wide range of goods and services. According to various forecasts, the prospects for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the region going forward are far stronger than in developed markets, and in excess even of other emerging-market regions.

GDP growth in emerging Asia is expected to average 6.6% in 2015, while frontier markets such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are forecasted to grow even faster.4 At the other end of the spectrum, Brunei is expected to contract by 0.5%, while Thailand and Singapore are expected to expand by a still-reasonable 3.7% and 3%, respectively.5

 “In our view, Southeast Asia is currently among the most exciting investment destinations available to emerging and frontier market investors.

“The range of opportunities available to investors is remarkable, from the highly developed and technologically sophisticated Singapore market through emerging markets in various stages of development such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines to exciting frontier prospects such as Vietnam and Myanmar,” he explains.

Indonesia is in the midst of a significant reform programme initiated by President Widodo, while Thailand’s military government is looking to shore up support through growth-oriented activities.

In his view, Singapore’s role as a global trading hub should permit continued growth and prosperity for that market.

Myanmar’s opening to market forces could receive a significant boost should scheduled elections pass off successfully, while Vietnam is also engaged in a cautious opening to global investors and gradual reform of its banking sector. Laos has the potential to join compelling frontier stock markets as demand for its hydropower and mineral resources boosts economic growth.

“We believe economic reform proposals under way elsewhere in the region also have the potential to boost economic growth and corporate profitability,” he says.

With its excellent international trade links and the availability both of sophisticated technology and low-cost labor, Southeast Asia has long been an important center for the supply-chain activities of Japanese companies, while labour cost advantages have seen much basic manufacturing activity migrating from China.

There are still some challenges for Asean countries ahead; naturally, when there is a divergence of countries, there are going to be differences of opinion but collective cooperation is needed to make the AEC successful.

“We would also like to see continued progress in removing barriers to the global flows of goods and services in the region, and policies that encourage foreign investment. In order for AEC to gain credibility and develop as envisioned, we believe various obstacles need to be addressed, including differences in regulations and policies, bureaucratic pressures, and perhaps a perception or concern among some business owners about whether Asean can be an open market.

“AEC, if successfully implemented, will represent a common market with a combined GDP of nearly US$2 trillion. We believe the fact that all Asean countries will ultimately have to work toward a collective vision and cooperative spirit when AEC comes together should strengthen their partnership and, hopefully, improve the lives of the people.

“We think the future for the region remains positive, supported by several factors including solid growth prospects, strong labor and natural resources, favorable demographics, advantageous trade links and geographical positioning, as well as watershed initiatives for reform,” says Mobius.  


Chinese-Malaysian Halal Food Lab set up in Gansu Province

Xinhua has reported a joint-venture between China and Malaysia that has led to the set-up of halal food laboratory in northwestern China’s Gansu Province lately.

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology launched a halal food program in partnership with Malaysia, under which Gansu Province will lead its implementation, giving full play to the province’s strength in Muslim culture, science and technology, location, trade, industry and other aspects.

Gansu will work closely with the Malaysian side in halal food processing, biological material research and certification, in order to build an international-level halal food testing laboratory.

With the laboratory construction as the turning point, Gansu will lead the establishment of Chinese halal food industry technology innovation alliance, to build a platform of technical cooperation between China and the Muslim countries along the "Belt and Road" routes.


Innovate or die: Thailand's top industrial firms ramp up R&D budgets

BANGKOK, March 26 (Reuters) - Thailand's two biggest industrial groups are raising their R&D spending to develop higher-end products, leading a growing troop of Thai companies under pressure to quickly evolve their low-value and increasingly uncompetitive business models.

Thai companies are expanding their line-up of premium products as rivals in neighbouring Vietnam win more orders for low-margin, commoditised goods with cheaper prices. A recent hike in Thailand's minimum wages has also dampened the country's competitiveness, forcing some foreign investors to shift operations to other Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam and Myanmar where labour costs are lower.

Siam Cement, a barometer of Thailand's economic health, lifted its research and development budget to a record 4.8 billion baht ($147 million) this year, or 1.0 percent of projected sales. That compares with 2.7 billion baht, or 0.6 percent of sales, in 2014. Thailand's third-largest listed company is no stranger to high value-added products, which accounted for 35 percent of its sales last year compared with just 4 percent a decade ago. These days, Siam Cement is focusing on higher-margin petrochemical products including high-end plastics and food packaging such as glassine paper.

To encourage innovation, the Thai government has increased R&D corporate tax deductions equal to 300 percent of R&D spending, from 200 percent previously. PTT, the country's biggest oil and gas company and the largest firm on the Thai bourse, aims to spend 2.25 billion baht on R&D in 2015, versus 2.08 billion baht in 2014. The group has a policy of spending 3 percent of its income on R&D. The state-controlled company is expanding into specialty products including biodegradable coffee cups and high-density polyethylene used to make fluorescent nets for night-time fishermen.

"It's in line with global trends as major petrochemical producers shift from commodity-grade products to specialty grade, and that's why they need to spend more on research," said Songklod Wongchai, an analyst at Finansia Syrus Securities in Bangkok. "But given the weak economic outlook and poor domestic consumption, I'm worried about demand because everyone needs to control costs. Prices of premium grade products are much higher than normal." ($1 = 32.60 Baht) (Editing by Ryan Woo)


Malaysia needs more scientists

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia still faces a shortage of scientists involved in research and development (R&D) activities, Malaysian Nuclear Agency (Management Programme) senior director Dr Dahlan Mohd said today.

"By 2020, the government's vision is to have 70 scientists per 10,000 workers," he said, adding that the current ratio is about 58 scientists per 10,000 workers. 

Dahlan was speaking at a press conference after a “Meet the Scientist” programme at the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, which saw the participation of 110 students.

“The main objective of this programme is to make scientists as role models to the students. They were also exposed to the research that has been carried out by the scientist,” he added.

The programme is a collaboration between the National Science Centre and the science, technology and innovation ministry (MOSTI).