Indonesia kicked off on Thursday operations of the country’s first microalgae-based biotechnology company, which is expected to ease the pharmaceutical industry’s dependency on imports of raw materials.
Belonging to PT Evergen Resources, the facility was inaugurated by Health Minister Nila F. Moeloek in Kendal, Central Java.
According to Evergen Resources founder and CEO Siswanto Haryanto, Evergen Resources is the first microalgae-based biotechnology firm in Southeast Asia.
“We spent around five years […] cultivating the microalgae. We faced many challenges, especially in scaling up production to the commercial level,” he said.
Evergen cultivates freshwater microalgae (Haematococcus pluvialis), which produces natural astaxanthin, a reddish pigment that has high levels of antioxidants and is naturally found in certain algae. It produces the pink or red color in salmon, trout, lobster, shrimp and other seafood, Siswanto explained.
Under the brand AstaLuxe, Evergen produces astaxanthin as a raw material for several industries, such as cosmetics, nutrition, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and food and beverages.
Siswanto said the company’s products would be used to fulfill domestic demand and be exported to a number of countries, including the United States, South Korea and Japan.
“We currently produce 500 kilograms of astaxanthin per month from Haematococcus pluvialis. However we plan to add other microalgae varieties in the future,” he said.
Nila said she hoped Evergen could fulfill domestic demand of natural astaxanthin, which was largely imported from China, Japan and India. She added that Evergen could help the government’s efforts to reduce the country’s imports of pharmaceutical raw materials.
Indonesia’s pharmaceutical industry continues to grow every year, she said.
“Indonesia’s pharmaceutical industry is becoming very lucrative. In recent years, several pharmaceutical companies from the Netherlands, Germany and South Korea have partnered with Indonesian companies to produce pharmaceutical raw materials and medicines.”
She hoped the partnership with foreign companies could accelerate technological transfer.
“Technological transfer will bring a lot of benefits to the national pharmaceutical industry and help reduce the industry’s dependence on imports,” she said. (nal/bbn)
Suherdjoko, Kendal, Central Java