BioWorld International Correspondent

SYDNEY, Australia - Analytica Ltd. set up a new company in Taiwan in an attempt to tap into the US$1 billion the Taiwanese government recently committed to the biotech sector.

Analytica CEO Robert Reardon said the company would be a "conduit" for others hoping to take advantage of grants that the Taiwanese government is expected to hand to companies able to demonstrate that they will use the country's extensive biotech infrastructure when using the grants.

He said that Taiwan now has a substantial biotech infrastructure that is underused. As an example, Reardon pointed to the country's Center for Drug Evaluation, the only facility in the Asia-Pacific region (including Australia) certified by the U.S. FDA to carry out pharmaceutical studies.

Reardon also estimated that biotech research and development work in Taiwan costs 30 percent less than the comparable work in the U.S. or Europe, as well as being cheaper than similar work done in Australia.

As a result Analytica, of Sydney, formed Analytica Biotech Company Ltd. (ABC) in Taipei, as a joint venture between Analytica and Analytica's U.S. subsidiary, Analytica Therapeutics Inc., based in Alameda, Calif. He sees the new company as a vehicle for others intending to use infrastructure and biotech contractors in Taiwan.

The move by Analytica, which already has contracted considerable biotech research and development to organizations in Taiwan, was prompted by the governments of Taiwan and Australia signing a letter of understanding in September to further develop the biotech capabilities of both countries.

Analytica's major development project is a viral biopesticide billed as being environmentally safe, which the company is now producing in partnership with a Taiwanese company and that government.

But it has a number of other projects, including an anticancer agent called Cytonin and an anti-inflammatory compound discovered through bioscreening in the blood of the venomous Australian tiger snake. Reardon said that the original molecule from the snake blood had to be substantially re-engineered as it was found to be too big to fit into the human body.

With the Taiwanese government making every effort to encourage biotechnology in its country, the Australian government has moved to boost spending on all forms of research and development, including biotechnology, through a recently announced A$3 billion (US$1.6 billion) package.

The package includes tax breaks, the creation of a number of special research fellowships to keep top scientists in Australia and a number of centers of excellence in biotechnology and information technology.