We are, naturally, encouraged by the achievements of Dr Henry Lowe who last week announced that he and his research partners have reached the final stages in the development of a formula that can reduce and eliminate prostate cancer.
Of equal importance, though, is Dr Lowe’s establishment of the Bio-Tech Research and Development Institute which brings together the University of the West Indies, University of Technology, Northern Caribbean University and the Scientific Research Council — Jamaica’s four leading research institutions — in order to develop pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals from indigenous Jamaican plants.
That Dr Lowe and his partners saw it fit to issue the four institutions with 2.5 per cent of the total shares of the Bio-tech R&D Institute, free of cost, is highly commendable and should enhance the role of science and technology in wealth creation.
Just as encouraging is Dr Lowe’s signal that these pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals will be manufactured here in Jamaica, creating new jobs and opportunities for young scientists and skilled persons, as well as generating small business opportunities for university graduates, as well as small and large investors in the agriculture sector.
There’s no doubting the potential benefits of this venture. Worldwide the nutraceutical industry is said to be a multi-billion dollar business with the United States alone accounting for US$167 billion and Europe accounting for US$100 billion.
We are also told that the nutraceutical and functional food industry has the potential to grow to US$50 billion in Canada. In fact, between 2002 and 2007 sales of functional foods have grown by over 15 per cent in Western Europe and the US combined.
Given that level of performance, Dr Lowe, we believe, has demonstrated business savvy by forging what he has described as a “brand Jamaica” partnership with the largest nutraceutical company in China, which will distribute his formula in that extremely large market.
“We expect that gaining even one per cent of the Chinese market will amount to tremendous US dollar value export earnings — perhaps the most rewarding endeavours and investments in our country in recent times,” Dr Lowe was quoted in our report last Friday.
So, essentially, what Dr Lowe and his partners have presented here is an opportunity for economic growth through job and wealth creation. It is, as he rightly said, an avenue to bring together science and business.
A smart Government would want to ensure that a venture such as this is accommodated and supported in order that Jamaica can reap its maximum benefits.
Our hope is that that’s the thinking inside Jamaica House.