Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is creating a new entity to attract pharmaceutical and biotech companies to invest in drug manufacturing as the kingdom seeks to accelerate a shift away from reliance on oil sales.
The Pharmaceutical Investment Co. aims to partner with local and international firms to develop pharmaceutical products including insulins, vaccines, plasma therapeutics, monoclonal antibodies, and cell and gene therapies among others, the PIF said in a statement Sunday. The statement didn't disclose any financial details of proposed investments.
Lifera, as the new entity is known, will "enable the private sector to scale up, ensuring easier access for patients, whilst securing supply of life-saving medicines that can meet local, regional and global demand," said Yazeed Al-Humeid, the PIF's deputy governor.
Under the leadership of the country's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the PIF has become one of the world's largest sovereign wealth fund with assets of about $700 billion. He has turned the once sleepy domestic-focused holding company into the main driver of his multitrillion-dollar ambition to transform the kingdom's economy into one less dependent on oil revenue and catapult it into the ranks of the top 15 economies by 2030.
The PIF, which has established 79 companies across 13 sectors since 2017, says its main aim is to act as a catalyst for fast development, innovation and job creation but many critics see it as crowding out the private sector and stifling entrepreneurship. In addition to its overseas investments in golf and e-gaming, it's also launched local firms including a boutique hotel chain, a coffee company and a vaping business.