RM50mil for research centre

Datuk Amar Awang Tengah (seated centre) with ministry and university officials and project consultants following the briefing. — Photos: Curtin

MIRI: The development of a state-of-the-art biotechnology research and development facility in Miri by the Sarawak Industrial Development Ministry in collaboration with Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) at a cost of some RM50 million is well underway.

Industrial Development Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, who is also the Resource Planning and Environment Second Minister and Public Utilities Minister, visited the university campus today for a first-hand look at the progress on the centre.

Accompanying him were Industrial Development Assistant Minister Datuk Julaihi Narawi and Ministry of Industrial Development Permanent Secretary Datuk Liaw Soon Eng.

The minister was given a briefing by the project consultants by Curtin Sarawak’s Dean of Research and Development and Curtin Sarawak Research Institute Director Professor Clem Kuek before touring the 4ha project site where the first phase of the project comprising a large two-storey R&D complex or Biotechnology Centre is taking shape.

Also present were Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Jim Mienczakowski, Chief Operating Officer Kingsley Francis Charles, Faculty of Engineering and Science associate Acting Dean Professor Lau Hieng Ho and Learning and Teaching Associate Dean Professor Beena Gridharan of Curtin Sarawak.

The project is the first of its kind in the state and will significantly boost R&D and knowledge accumulation in Sarawak to meet the state’s technological needs, particularly in relation to the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, as well as contribute to the state government’s vision of making Miri a reputable centre of learning and research.

Datuk Amar Awang Tengah consulting with Professor Mienczakowski and others at the project site.
Amar talking with Prof Mienczakowski and others at the project site.

According to Kuek, the rationale for establishing the Biotechnology Centre is that there is huge potential to develop the state’s bioeconomy by utilising its rich biodiversity, which remains relatively untapped.

At present, there is no organisation dedicated to developing and commercialising new bioproducts and processes, and developments in the food, aquaculture and other bioindustries will require advanced capabilities for testing, analysis, research and development.

“The benefits the Biotechnology Centre at Curtin Sarawak will bring include assisting SMEs to develop and commercialise new products and processes; and quality assurance through product analysis to give consumer confidence,” said Prof Kuek.

He added that the centre will be managed by Curtin Sarawak, which will provide the necessary expertise and a critical mass of researchers to conduct research projects funded by the government, Curtin University and other fund-providers, as well as ensure that the outcomes from the research activities are relevant to the state’s needs.

The centre will also be equipped with sophisticated modern equipment to carry out its designed functions.

The Biotechnology Centre is due to open in the second half of next year.

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