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The Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant at the Curtin University Malaysia campus in Miri, Sarawak.

THE Sarawak Research and Development Council (Sarawak RDC) recently inked a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Curtin Biovalley Sdn Bhd (CBV), a subsidiary of Curtin Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

With the MoA, CBV is set to manage, operate and maintain the Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant at the Curtin University Malaysia campus in Miri.

Initiated by the Sarawak government, the RM60.6 million facility will support the development of new bio-based products and processes, provide research and development opportunities to assist industries in phytochemical and bio-processes, and offer high-quality testing to industries for quality assurance.

As part of the government’s strategy to develop Sarawak’s bio-economy, the partnership with CBV also facilitates contract research and training for various agencies.

Curtin University Malaysia pro vice-chancellor, president and chief executive Professor Jim Mienczakowski said the facilities at the pilot plant were world-class and it would become a key research and development centre in the state.

“The Sarawak Biovalley Pilot Plant is unique because it aims to assess and maximise the viability of bio-products for commercial production,” he highlighted.

It is also the only centre in Sabah and Sarawak that can bridge between laboratory studies and commercial production in the bio-economy.

“The pilot plant provides the opportunity to scale-up production using industry processes and equipment.

“The bench-scale results achieved by various research institutions and industry in Sarawak and the rest of the country, as well as quantitative data from such pilot planting, are necessary to evaluate whether commercial production will be justifiable against the investment that will be needed to go into production,” said Mienczakowski.

The pilot plant has a “phytoprocess floor”, where plant compounds with commercial value will be extracted.

(From left) Dr Annuar Rapa’ee, Associate Professor Dr Peter Morin Nissom, Professor Christopher Robin Lowe, Datuk Seri Michael Manyin, Tan Sri Dr George Chan and Professor Jim Mienczakowski after signing the memorandum of agreement for Sarawak RDC to collaborate with CBV Sdn Bhd and University of Cambridge in Kuching recently.

Adjacent is the “bio-process floor”, where the use of microorganisms are developed for the chemical, food and agricultural industries.

At the MoA signing ceremony, Sarawak RDC was represented by its general manager Associate Professor Dr Peter Morin Nissom and state Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin, while CBV was represented by its directors Datuk Seri Fong Joo Chung and Azmi Bujang.

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

Present were state Education, Science and Technological Research Assistant Minister Dr Annuar Rapa’ee, Curtin University deputy vice-chancellor (international) Professor Seth Kunin and Curtin University Malaysia pro-chancellor Tan Sri Dr George Chan.

The ceremony in Kuching also saw Sarawak RDC signing a MoA with the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

The deal will see the Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences (CATS) collaborating with the state government in research and development, internships and mobility exchange programmes.

Manyin and Nissom signed the agreement on behalf of Sarawak RDC, while Cambridge University was represented by CATS director Professor Christopher Robin Lowe.

According to Sarawak RDC, the collaborations with CBV and University of Cambridge will boost research and development in the state.

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