Curtin Biovalley Sdn Bhd to manage Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant at Curtin Malaysia campus

Miri – 10 December 2019 – The Sarawak Research and Development Council (Sarawak RDC) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Curtin Biovalley Sdn Bhd (CBV), a subsidiary company of Curtin Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., last Friday to manage, operate and maintain the Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant located at the Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) campus.

Sarawak RDC was represented by its general manager Associate Professor Ts. Dr. Peter Morin Nissom and State Education, Science, and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong, while CBV was represented by its directors Datuk Seri Fong Joo Chung and Haji Azmi Bin Haji Bujang.

Signing as witnesses were Sarawak RDC deputy general manager Dr. Ivan Yap Kok Seng and CBV director Freddie Panau.

Present during the signing ceremony were Education, Science and Technological Research Assistant Minister Dr. Annuar Rapa’ee, Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor International Professor Seth Kunin, Curtin Malaysia Pro-Chancellor Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr. George Chan Hong Nam and Pro Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Professor Jim Mienczakowski.

The RM60.6 million Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant was developed by the Sarawak Government to support the development of new bio-based products and processes, provide research and development facilities to assist industries in phytochemical and bio-processes, and high-quality testing and development facilities for industries in product analysis, product enhancement and quality assurance, as well as infrastructure and facilities for incubators.

The partnership with CBV also facilitates the executing of contract research and training for industry and research agencies as part of the government’s strategy to develop Sarawak’s bio-economy.

The ceremony held in Kuching also saw the signing of a MoA with University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, which involves a collaboration with Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences (CATS) in areas of joint research and development projects, student and staff internship, and mobility exchange programme between Cambridge and Sarawak. Manyin and Nissom signed the agreement on behalf of Sarawak RDC, while Cambridge University was represented by its director of CATS, Professor Christopher Robin Lowe.

In a statement, the Sarawak RDC said the collaborations between the Sarawak RDC and Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd. as well as University of Cambridge will boost research development in the state.

Meanwhile, Professor Mienczakowski said the facilities at the pilot plant were world-class and that it would become a key research and development facility for the state. It is also the only facility in East Malaysia that can act as a bridge between laboratory scale studies and commercial production in the bioeconomy.

“The pilot plant provides the opportunity to scale up using industry-relevant processes and equipment. The bench scale results achieved by various research institutions and industry in Sarawak and rest of the country, as well as quantitative data from such pilot planting, is necessary to evaluate whether commercial production will be justifiable against the investment which will be needed to go into production,” Professor Mienczakowski remarked.

The pilot plant has a Phytoprocess Floor where the development of research on the extraction of compounds of commercial value from plants is conducted. Adjacent to it is the Bioprocess Floor where the capabilities of microorganisms can be developed into products for the chemical, food and agricultural industries.

The feature which distinguishes the facility from others in Sarawak and elsewhere in Malaysia is that its equipment is of a scale and type appropriate for assessing economic viability for commercial production. Thus, it adds significance to all the research carried out in Sarawak on its bioresources in that it can proceed beyond lab- and bench-top research which is often curiosity-driven, to R&D which is more targeted towards making a real contribution to the bioeconomy of the state.

Annuar Rapaee, Peter Nissom, Prof Lowe, Michael Manyin, Dr George Chan and Prof Mienczakowski link arms during a photo call.

The RM60.6 million Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant on the Curtin Malaysia campus.

The first pilot plant facility in Sarawak for development of new bio-based products and processes.

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