SIBU: Research communities, including institutions of higher learning, can now apply for financial grant of up to RM500,000 from the Science, Technology and Innnovation Ministry, but subject to strict criteria.
Its Deputy Minister, Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah, said the ministry would only approve such application if the applicants could ensure that their research would lead to the invention of products which could be commercialised for the benefit of the people.
“It is a financial grant where the applicants do not have to pay back. However, there is no automatic approval as every application will have to go through six panels of experts,” he said at the opening of the International Workshop on Construction on Peat Land yesterday.
He said as the grants “are people’s money”, everything would be accounted for and that they would be given based on a project-by-project basis and not one lump sum.
He added that strict approval for the grant was necessary as it wanted researchers in the country to produce quality products that could be internationally marketed.
Abu Bakar said the ministry did have a policy to buy back quality research products from the applicants and sell them to the market to help the researchers.
As an example, if any researcher comes up with a quality educational product, the ministry will buy it and sell it to the Education Ministry for schools.
“We do have a lot of funds to help local researchers. Under the 9th Malaysia Plan, we spent close to RM3.2bil and RM988mil under the 10th Malaysia Plan for research projects. We are financing 60 projects a year. Our target is to have altogether 360 projects of high quality by 2020 so that we can sell the products abroad,” he added.
Meanwhile, Peat Technology Research Institute director Professor Datuk Dr Sabarudin Mohd said they had identified three peat soil areas along the airport road here as a pilot project to stabilise the road.
The project, which is set to begin in early 2016, also involves HCM Engineering Sdn Bhd and Research Centre for Soft Soils Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia.
“If the pilot project is a success, we will use the same technology for the development of infrastructure and buildings on peat soil areas,” he added.