In 1849, a young chemist borrowed
What do you personally regard as the 'X-factor' that makes
"Something that appeals to me personally is the kind of interaction we have with companies every day. As part of our jobs, working in a free zone, we get to meet with a lot of businesses with different backgrounds; these range from pure scientists looking to set up their own company to larger Fortune 500 companies. So, we are continually having different conversations which, in my opinion, is a wonderful learning process.
"Another factor that is quite inspiring is being able to see companies go 'from concept to execution', and being part of their success stories. We've very often seen businesses start as one-man entrepreneurial ventures and go on to become successful larger companies.
"Finally, the kind of work that we do at DuBiotech, in particular, touches the lives of people, whether it is a new drug by a pharmaceutical company or a new medical product – it's truly satisfying to contribute towards something that enhances the life of a person in any large or small way."
Tell us a little bit about DuBiotech.
"DuBiotech, encompassing over 22 million square feet, is a
"Businesses can choose from a variety of services we offer – Warehousing facilities fully equipped with cutting-edge technology,
What were some major factors taken into consideration at the time of deciding the strategic location of DuBiotech?
"It was a strategic decision in line with
How do you envision the new
"Of course it's going to be a great facilitator. One of the good things about
What kind of companies does DuBiotech attract? What percentage of businesses within DuBiotech are SMEs?
"There are several different types of companies that set up in DuBiotech; there are individuals looking to start their own small businesses, there are larger companies looking to establish a smaller base here, and there are service-based businesses looking to run laboratories and testing labs. I would say that 40 per cent of the businesses in DuBiotech are SMEs."
What is the current occupancy rate at DuBiotech?
"Our warehousing facility is at 90 per cent occupancy and our laboratory building is at 50 per cent occupancy, but overall you can say that we are at 50 per cent occupancy."
What are some pre-requisites an SME needs to meet in order to be located in DuBiotech?
"We have a very comprehensive review process in place. There are two different sets of rules. In the case of a larger well-established company seeking space to set up a base in DuBiotech, we do a background check on the company and look at the products they are trying to bring into this market. We make sure that these products comply with the
"In the case of an individual looking to form his/her company, we look at the firm's business plan, growth strategy, vision for the future, product or service portfolio, and so on."
Considering the nature of activity within this cluster, are your business partners subjected to a strict regulatory framework to ensure their operations are on par with global standards?
"At DuBiotech, what we have done is, instead of creating our own regulations, adopt the federal regulations. For instance, if it's an activity relating to medicine or a medical device, the
"In fact, we are also very open to feedback and engage in a healthy knowledge exchange with companies working with us at DuBiotech. We encourage them to share their experiences from working in different countries – if there is a rule or regulation that we think can and should be implemented here, we try to take these suggestions to the government agencies. Again, it's a very collaborative relationship."
As a Life Sciences cluster, what are some features and special benefits that you offer to your business partners?
"We have several such features, many of which are quite technical in nature. Let me explain with an example. One unique feature that our laboratory building provides is fresh air facility – in comparison to the usual air circulation model. Why is this important? This is crucial for labs that don't want any cross contamination to happen, so all the gases and chemicals get filtered out before they mix into the environment.
"Another special feature is the drainage facility. If there are any chemicals being used, for example, there is a superior system which we've installed in the basement which cleans out any chemicals. If there is any hazardous material produced, this is transferred into a specialised chamber and disposed through the appropriate channels following the international standards and procedures."
What are some safety features implemented within the cluster to protect your business partners? For instance, what happens in case of a power failure in one of your chemical labs?
"Our laboratory building, for instance, has a lot of special features such as the entrance door is fireproof and the lab fit outs are conducive to the nature of chemical activities taking place in them. In terms of the chemicals themselves, we obtain necessary permits from different agencies before we allow companies to work with them. We make sure that all the precautions are taken care of. In fact, we have a department dedicated to this function.
"Additionally, we have a disaster management manual that we intensively follow. Of course, we have a power backup system to avoid any mishaps in the labs, every small detail is taken care of including the installation of shower areas within labs in the case of burns or other serious fire-related injuries."
DuBiotech is perfect for research and development – an area that is your primary focus. How important is R&D at the SME level?
"The way we encourage R&D – and the approach I personally believe would work in our part of the world – is by incorporating it within the industry. The model that would work here is industry collaboration. In terms of SME participation, the question to ponder upon is – 'how will a scientist with a great idea or concept get the funding to move forward?' and again the answer to this question is by collaborating with larger well-established industry experts."
On a global scale, where do you position
"I think we are still at the very beginning. Now that we have a strong industry foundation – particularly at DuBiotech – I think it is important to have an ongoing dialogue with universities, I think this is what will drive innovation in the future, especially in the Life Sciences area.
"Also, many companies are looking at disease management in a unique way. Rather than just treating an illness, they are looking at trends, genetic factors, lifestyle and diet habits, and going to the root of the problem. There's innovation in the way of approaching things as well – not just product innovation."
In terms of future growth, what are some developments that your business partners can look forward to in the years to come?
"I think if we can contribute to reducing the prevailing illnesses in the city such as Diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, it will be a great achievement that we will be extremely proud of. Many companies within DuBiotech are currently working with government agencies and major hospitals to achieve this goal.
"The dialogue between the industry and university is another crucial aspect in our long-term strategy. We are in discussions with our sister entity, Dubai International Academic City, and are trying to create a symbiotic exchange between education and innovation. We will also continue to encourage the hiring of fresh talent within our free zone and ensure that the industry is continually fuelled with new ideas."
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