Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant researchers to help local SMEs develop new innovative productsPosted date:
Miri – 20 July 2022 – Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) that manages and operates the Sarawak Government-owned Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant (SBPP), signed Memoranda of Agreement (MoAs) for research and development with two Bumiputera-owned small and medium-sized enterprises today.
Cutting-edge research to be conducted by the team of researchers at the SBPP for Sixteeen TwentyNine Sdn. Bhd., which produces the Rania brand of food products, will involve the development of innovative techniques for cultivating the indigenous daun nyirik in a controlled environment, and the extraction of daun nyirik as food flavouring and a natural preservative rather than a mere wrap for kelupis so that shelf life of the product can be extended, particularly for export.
Meanwhile, pioneering research will also be carried out by the researchers for IANA Corporation Sdn. Bhd., owner of the famous Siti Payung brand of Sarawak kek lapis, for the formulation of dry egg powder, use of egg shells as a natural lizard repellent, and extending the shelf life of kek lapis.
Representing Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd. at the signing was Interim Director Ir. Pieter Willem Pottas, while Kartini Binti Sarkawi and Siti Hawa Binti Sarkawi represented Sixteeen TwentyNine Sdn. Bhd., and Mohammad Hafidz Bin Rohani and Juliana Binti Abu Bakar represented IANA Corporation Sdn. Bhd.
Also present were representatives from Curtin Malaysia, Sarawak Agriculture Department, and event sponsors.
Ir. Pottas said the signing of the MoAs was very significant for Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd. as they will allow the researchers at the SBPP to not only conduct meaningful research that will impact the business of its partner SMEs, but also renew Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd.’s commitment to support the advancement of small and medium-sized enterprises in Sarawak through contract and collaborative R&D. Furthermore, the SBPP has the appropriate facilities and people with the right qualifications, skills and experience to provide the required R&D services:
He added that Sarawak’s economy has been traditionally based on its vast abundance of natural resources and indigenous and cultivated produce, and many local businesses like Sixteeen TwentyNine Sdn. Bhd. and IANA Corporation Sdn. Bhd. have seen the potential and benefits of further developing these products – not just for profit but also to showcase the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage of Sarawak.
“Such R&D is the forte of the SBPP, and as a Sarawak Government-owned entity and one of the state’s leading research facilities, we are proud to be part of the effort to promote the uniqueness of Sarawak, including its emerging technological and scientific capabilities,” said Ir. Pottas.
He also thanked the Sarawak Foundation for providing seed funds to kickstart the research for the two SMEs, saying it was both timely and beneficial to the projects.
The SBPP is a purpose-built biotechnology research facility located at the Curtin Malaysia campus that was completed in 2019 at a cost of RM60.6 million. It is owned by the Sarawak Government and managed, operated and maintained by Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd.
The SBPP provides the opportunity for researchers from academia and industry to capitalise on Sarawak’s rich potential in valuable products from indigenous plants and planted crops by harnessing the biosynthetic capabilities of microorganisms for products such as chemicals, inocula and biological control agents.
While there has been considerable research and development in this area in Malaysia, they have largely achieved only bench-scale results. The SBPP allows researchers to scale up using industry-relevant processes and equipment and produce quantitative data to evaluate whether commercial production is viable.
Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd. invites industry players to explore research and development partnerships with it. The SBPP is readily available to industry partners for development and high quality testing of new bio-based products and processes. It has comprehensive facilities for product analysis, product enhancement and quality assurance, as well as infrastructure and facilities for incubators.
“Innovation cannot stand in isolation, and to solve real-world problems, CBV and the SBPP need to work with real-world partners. We actively engage with industry to ensure that research at the SBPP can be turned into commercially viable products that benefit individuals and whole communities at national and global levels,” said Ir. Pottas.
For more information on Curtin Biovalley Sdn. Bhd. and the SBPP, go to biovalley.curtin.edu.my. A YouTube video of the SBPP can be viewed at bit.ly/SarawakBiovalley.