The Singapore based company SciGen Ltd. notified the Ministry of Industry and Trade this week that it intends to invest more than $50 million expanding its activity in Israel. The company is involved in the development of a treatment drug for hepatitis B, and intends to triple its investment in development and production, based on a molecule developed by Biotechnology General (BTG). This will be one of the largest investments that a global company had made in the Israeli biotechnology sector.
SciGen is traded on the Australian stock exchange at a valuation of tens of billions of dollars. The company, founded and controlled by Jewish Australian Saul Mashaal, who is its executive vice chairman and CEO, launched its development and production plant in Rehovot in January 2007 at an investment of $30 million. The plant has 40 employees. Mashaal commented at the time that the quality of the Israeli workforce was the reason behind his choice to establish the plant in Israel instead of India.
Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai said the Israeli biotechnology industry needs the cooperation of global companies to finance the huge investments involved in developing pharmaceuticals. Reports on the lack of growth in the sector over the past decade noted that the solution might lie in increased foreign investment, bringing knowledge and experience. The Israeli biotechnology sector includes about 700 companies, most of them small.
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