PETRA JAYA: The Sarawak Research and Development Council Bill 2017 was passed at the second session of the 18th state legislative assembly sitting here on Thursday.
The council, headed by the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari Abang Openg will oversee the promotion, coordination and advancement of research and development in the state.
The newly set up body will determine the direction and strategies of research in various field.
It will also help to identify research and development for commercialisation of the research findings and intellectual properties resulting therefrom.
Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Micheal Manyin Jawong who tabled the bill said the council plays a role in promoting collaborations between researchers and institutions, both local and international.
"It will manage and offer funds for research and development initiatives and to support the human capital development in various research sectors," he said.
Currently, the research and development in Sarawak covers a wide area, from pure sciences, biotech, biomedical, forestry and agriculture to social sciences.
However, most of the research and development programmes were undertaken by several agencies from various industries.
"Thus, there are concerns that our research efforts are not coordinated, lack of effective collaborations, knowledge sharing to achieve significant impacts or outcomes," he said.
Sarawak, Manyin said, needs to coordinate, protect and commercialise its intellectual properties to attract investments from public and private sectors.
Meanwhile, advances in research and development, especially in the pharmaceutical products, food industry, agriculture and biotechnology have taken place in the recent decades globally.
Many of these advances attributed to research into natural products from the tropical rainforests.
"Sarawak, which is well known for its rich biodiversity and marine areas have a lot of the resources that found to have medical properties," he said.
"Some of the natural resources in our forests are undergoing research or trials for development of drugs that could be used for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), prostate cancer and tuberculosis," he added.
Apart from that, researches also been carried out into crops, peat soil as well as certain plants and mammals for traditional medicines, health supplements and herbal products.
By forming the council, Manyin said, all these researches ought to be properly co-ordinated whereby policies and strategies will be set for their optimal and sustainable outcomes.
"With this, we are able to meet the objectives of the social-economic transformation plan to take the the state to a new level of economic development," he added.