Mauritius Plans to Build Biotech Park

Over the past few years, the Mauritian Government has announced a series of incentives to encourage biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to invest in Mauritius.

As a matter of fact, in the 2021-2022 National Budget, the Government of Mauritius made provision for a USD 25 million seed fund to set up the Mauritius Institute of Biotechnology. The EU came forward and agreed to provide technical assistance in drafting the Biotechnology Development Strategy of the country.

More recently, as part of the 2022-2034 National Budget, several other measures were announced and enacted into law. These measures include:

  1. reviewing the existing framework for licensing and setting up laboratories, including those involved with stem cells, genetic testing, and specialized molecular testing;
  2. proclamation of the relevant sections of the Human Tissue (Removal, Preservation and Transplant) Act to provide the legal framework for organ donation;
  3. revamping of the Clinical Trials Act to align with international standards to expand the range and broaden the scope of activities for clinical trials;
  4. developing a legal framework for clinical trials for medical devices;
  5. developing a framework to set up healthcare university spin-offs to promote research and development of new healthcare products; and,
  6. developing a legal framework for clinical trials for medical devices.

So far, the Government has managed to attract quite a few medical companies to set up shop in Mauritius. For instance, Natec Medical is located in Ebene Cybercity and specializes in the manufacture of stents and catheters for cardiology. The company has also developed and extended its interventional medical devices product range to urology and gastroenterology and its products are now exported all around the world.

AVA Technopark at Cote d’Or Biotech Park

In response to the call from the Government of Mauritius, Natec Medical plans to expand its capacity with a new facility in the proposed Biotech Park in Cote d’Or. Thus, CEO of Natec Medical Vincent Lagarde indicated that his company plans to invest some MUR 600 million (USD 15 million) as part of the expansion plan to build and promote AVA Technopark which is expected to generate 500 jobs when fully operational.

The name AVA takes its inspiration from the Hebrew word which means to ‘give life’ and reflects the core values of the AVA Group. The acronym LIFE is aptly applied by AVA Group as a shorthand for Leadership, Innovation, Family and Excellence.

To give an idea of the breadth of the biotech sector, we list below a number of sub-sectors:

  • Pre-clinical trials and clinical trials
  • Breeding for pre-clinical trials
  • Stem cell therapy
  • Phytotherapy R&D
  • Agro-industry applications
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Marine biotechnology

In August 2019, Mauritius also put into effect the new Intellectual Property Act to consolidate various elements of IP such as patents, breeder’s rights, trade names & trademarks, geographical indications and other aspects which an innovative biotechnology sector might require.

The Economic Development Board of Mauritius (EDBmu) has come up with an incentive package tailor-made for the biotech sector and is open to negotiations for select investors. Companies investing less than USD 12 million will obtain an Investment Certificate while companies with bringing #FDI exceeding of USD 12 million will get a Premium Investment Certificate.

Both categories of investors are entitled to a standard package of incentives and Premium investors can negotiate for more measures customized to their projects.

  1. 8-year tax holiday for new companies;
  2. exemption from registration duty and land transfer tax payments for the purchase of immovable property for business purposes for new companies;
  3. zero-rated VAT for provision of healthcare, nursing, and residential care services;
  4. VAT exemptions on plant, machinery, equipment and construction of purpose-built building, plant, and equipment (excluding vehicles) for research and development;
  5. 5% tax credit over three years for capital expenditures incurred on new plant and machinery; and
  6. biotech and pharma companies will benefit from full tax credit on costs of acquisition of patents.

Cap Research is another successful biotech company specializing in Clinical Trials. Currently, it is able to conduct Phase I, II and III trials in Mauritius. The legal framework under the Clinical Trials Acts was promulgated back in 2011. One of the unique selling points of Mauritius is the availability various ethnic groups from Asia, Africa and Europe. In addition to medical drugs, Mauritius has also developed another niche to test cosmetics and other beauty products on various skin tones and types.

Ajanta Pharma is a large Indian drug maker with a presence in 30 countries around the world. At its manufacturing facility in Mauritius, it produces mostly anti-malarial drugs destined for the African market.

Global Aspen in Mauritius IFC

Another reason why multinational pharmas come to Mauritius is to leverage the Mauritius International Financial Center (#MIFC) by setting up their Global HQ in the Mauritius jurisdiction. Thus, the South Africa pharma company Aspen Pharmacare incorporated Aspen Global in the Mauritius #IFC. In 2022, Aspen Global was even rated as one of the best companies to work for in Mauritius.

Landscope Mauritius already operates a Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Park in Rose Belle, which is situated a few minutes from the airport. In view of the level of interest and in line with the policy of the Government, Landscope has earmarked another larger plot of land in the Cote d’Or area for a Biotech Park.

Like many countries, Mauritius experienced certain difficulties in procuring medical materials, drugs and vaccines during the height of the #COVID pandemic. In a bid to enhance its #HealthSecurity, Mauritius thus plans to build up its own pharma industry and even ambitions to boost exports to the African continent thanks its #GoodGovernance, favorable #BusinessClimate and membership of the #AfCFTA.