East Ventures


31 May 2023

From Portfolios

Biotechnology and the future of healthcare in Indonesia

Etana is an Indonesian biotechnology company with a mission to provide affordable, quality, and innovative bio-pharmaceutical products for ASEAN and Muslim countries.

In a country with a booming population and an ever-growing demand for quality healthcare, the pivotal role of biotechnology in Indonesia cannot be overstated. It is not only a way to meet the needs of its citizens but also a pathway to achieving national independence in healthcare. Leveraging biotechnology for fulfilling its citizens’s healthcare requirements  is crucial in building a resilient healthcare system. 

However, Indonesia still lags behind in biotechnology development. According to the 2021 Global Biotechnology Innovation Scorecard, Indonesia ranks 52nd out of 54 countries in biotechnology development. Indonesia still relies on imported medicine raw materials, and its domestic biotechnology sector is still in its infancy. 

In advancing Indonesia’s healthcare landscape, there are two compelling reasons why healthtech companies are vital, particularly to develop biotechnology for medical applications. First, East Ventures’ Genomics white paper notes that Indonesia is witnessing a rise in cases of antimicrobial resistance, making antibiotics and antimicrobial medicines less effective and infections increasingly difficult to treat. Second, we face challenges in our primary treatment using chemically-synthesized drugs, necessitating more aggressive therapies. Indonesia still heavily relies on imported biological oncology products, so we need to develop local biologics production for infections, heart hypertension, cancer, and renal disease.

To address these challenges, Etana is a leading biotechnology company that was founded in Indonesia back in 2014. Etana has become a game-changer in revolutionizing the nation’s healthcare system. Through its groundbreaking work with biological platforms, Etana is spearheading the advancement of biotechnology in Indonesia. The company recently secured funding from East Ventures and other global investors to strengthen their pipelines and portfolio, focusing on biological oncology products and drug substance manufacturing facilities.

We believe in Etana and their mission to transform healthcare in Indonesia through biotechnology. Their work in mRNA technology and monoclonal antibodies can bring innovative solutions to patients in need, reshaping the healthcare landscape.

Pioneering biotechnology for local production 

Remarkable progress in biotechnology recently came from the RNA platform. mRNA technology holds immense potential for Indonesia’s healthcare system. It provides a flexible vaccine development platform that can rapidly respond to the demand for innovative and adaptable biopharmaceutical products, including cancer vaccines. 

In Southeast Asia, Etana is a pioneer in the utilization of mRNA and viral peptide-based platforms for vaccine production. By leveraging mRNA technology, Etana has successfully developed an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine that has received Emergency Use Authorization, halal provisions, and certificates from the Indonesian Food and Drug Authority. This accomplishment has been commended by President Joko Widodo himself.

“The inauguration of Etana’s bio-pharmaceutical factory was carried out by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Ir. H. Joko Widodo, accompanied by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan; Minister of Health, Budi Gunadi Sadikin; the Head of the Food and Drug Administration (BPOM), Penny K. Lukito; and President Director of Etana, Nathan Tirtana.  The factory was inaugurated in October 2022 and is located in Pulogadung Industrial Estate (JIEP), Jakarta. Photo source: Etana”

Etana’s commitment extends to the production of mammalian cells for monoclonal antibodies. By building production capacity for mammalian cells, Etana ensures high local content production and technology capability. Etana’s plans include the production of bevacizumab biosimilar, a recombinant humanized anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody drug for cancer patients. By using mammalian cells to produce therapeutic proteins, the resulting products are more likely to resemble endogenous human proteins, thereby being functional and clinically relevant. This strategy enables Etana to scale up their biological drug substance manufacturing capacity.

Moving forward, Etana will focus on local production and technology transfer in collaboration with partners. Their goal is to enhance the treatment pipeline by replacing or supplementing chemical products with biological alternatives, thus expanding the range of treatment options available to patients. Etana actively engages in education, discussions, and advisory sessions with institutions and medical associations to foster dialogue and knowledge-sharing, ultimately increasing awareness and utilization of biological products within the medical community.

Etana places significant emphasis on ensuring the halal certification and traceability of all their products. With Indonesia’s predominantly Muslim population, adhering to halal standards is crucial. Etana’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine has obtained a halal certificate from the Halal Product Assurance Agency, assuring a broader range of patients. By prioritizing halal certification and traceability, Etana not only meets the needs of Indonesia’s Muslim population but also demonstrates its commitment to product compliance and suitability. 

East Ventures recognizes Etana as a pioneering force in the new wave in Indonesia’s healthcare landscape: harnessing biotechnology to promote local production. We will continue to support healthtech companies like Etana in tackling Indonesia’s healthcare challenges, for a healthier nation.