PRESTIGIOUS: Local university signs five-year contract with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
UNIVERSITI Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) is confident of providing a strategic platform for the growth of the country's biotechnology sector.
UTM vice-chancellor Prof Dr Datuk Zaini Ujang said the signing of a five-year project between UTM and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2010 bears testimony to the fact that the university, a leading innovation-driven entrepreneurial research university in engineering science and technology, has the right structure for a joint collaboration to develop biotechnology.
Zaini said the university had awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Biotechnology to MIT's Prof Dr Anthony J. Sinskey, 72, at the university's 48th convocation ceremony recently.
"In 1994, Sinskey met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, then the Education Minister. Sinskey was the one who introduced the study of biotechnology in the country in 1995," said Zaini.
An American professor of microbiology and engineering systems at the MIT, Sinskey and his Korean-American wife, Rha Chokyun, travelled the world extensively in search for a place which has natural resources in biotechnology as well as the capability to develop the resources.
"After considering Singapore and Indonesia, the couple decided that Malaysia has the highest potential for growth and bio-resources due to the abundance of natural resources critical to bio-technology development such as those provided by our oil palm industry," Zaini said.
"He also felt that UTM's focus on science and technology, and the university's entrepreneur programmes, were factors that will help him contribute to the field."
With over 20 years of experience working with researchers from various Malaysian institutions, Zaini said Sinskey was keen to collaborate with researchers from UTM.
Sinskey, who sits on the advisory council for Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council Malaysia, is recognised as a leading expert in the formation of new biotechnology enterprises and as an academic entrepreneur.
Both he and his wife visit Malaysia at least four times a year.
The honorary degree was conferred to Sinskey by the university's chancellor Raja Zarith Sofia, the Sultan of Johor's consort.