Programme to encourage innovation for better life


Useful larvae: Checking out the progress of food waste slurry being treated by Black Soldier Fly larvae at Taylors Lakeside University in Subang Jaya are (from left) Vic Pui, Yanni Ching and Thomas Pui from Entomal BioTech, a recipient of Creative KL Grants Programme and Urban Challenge. — LOW LAY PHON/The Star

AN INNOVATION which uses Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae to break down food waste is making the adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” a reality.

Entomal Biotech Sdn Bhd, a Malaysia-based biotechnology company, said its patented system reduced the amount of food waste ending up in landfills or being incinerated, which worsened greenhouse gas emissions.

Members of the public enjoying an outing on Tryke ebikes. — Photos: SHAARI CHE MAT, LOW LAY PHON and WILLIAM GARY/The StarMembers of the public enjoying an outing on Tryke ebikes. — Photos: SHAARI CHE MAT, LOW LAY PHON and WILLIAM GARY/The Star

Its chief commercial officer Yanni Ching said the Entomal Mobile Bioconversion System (EMBC) allowed the BSF larvae to consume food waste slurry to produce nutrient-rich insect protein for pet food and organic fertiliser for farmers.

“The process starts with gathering food waste and grinding it into a slurry before injecting BSF larvae into the mix.

“The larvae would consume the food slurry and produce frass, which is made into organic fertilisers for farmers, while the insects can be used as animal feed − making it into a circular economy.

“We have estimated an EMBC to be able to reduce 28 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission per year,” she said.

Co-founded by brothers Thomas and Vic Pui, Entomal BioTech is one of the eight winners of the Creative KL Grants Programme and Urban Challenge.

(From left) Thomas, Vic and Ching holding the BSF larvae at the EMBC at Taylors Lakeside University.(From left) Thomas, Vic and Ching holding the BSF larvae at the EMBC at Taylors Lakeside University.

The programme by Think City aims to improve the liveability of the city centre by sourcing innovative solutions and leveraging its expertise and co-investment in projects.

The top three winners received RM200,000, one of which is Entomal, while another five projects received consolation prizes of RM40,000.

The programme is aligned with the Kuala Lumpur Creative and Cultural District (KLCCD) Strategic Master Plan’s vision to create inclusive, creative, and viable cultural places within the city to enhance liveability and visitor attraction.

Ching said the technology behind ensuring the BSF larvae supply was what set them apart from other food waste treatment operators.

“We have a certain way to ensure the reproductivity of BSF in our laboratory.

“We also add in a certain formula to the food waste to reduce odour and break the food particles for the larvae’s easy consumption,” said Ching.

Unlike the common fly, BSF solely grows to reproduce and has the ability to repel other insects, she explained.

Wong (right) and his team posing with the escooters, a bicycle and motorcycle.Wong (right) and his team posing with the escooters, a bicycle and motorcycle.

“So BSF are not pests as they do not sting and don’t spread harmful pathogens,” she added.

Currently, Entomal has four EMBC units operating in the Klang Valley.

The pioneer EMBC was done through a tri-partnership with Taylors University in Subang Jaya, and Impact Circle, an agri-foodtech ecosystem builder and multiplier, which allowed Taylor’s Bachelor of Science in Culinology programme students to conduct research on the by-products.

“The others are located at Section 2 Community Centre, Shah Alam, a partnership with Shah Alam City Council as well as one each at Sunway Lagoon and Le Meridien Petaling Jaya,” said Ching.

She said they had secured another location at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Jalan Hang Jebat, Kuala Lumpur.

“We are in the midst of identifying vendors, determining how the food waste will be collected as well as finalising the location for our EMBC (at the YWCA).

“We hope to launch it this month and we will also conduct education and awareness on the treatment processes with the community.

“At the same time, we also created job opportunities for B40 women to run the EMBC and empower them,” she added.

Ching hoped to have 15 EMBC units in the Klang Valley in the next 12 months.

The company intents to collaborate with hotels, shopping centres, amusement parks, and property developers.

“Ultimately, we want to raise funds to set up a Central Biowaste Conversion Plant that treats 15 tonnes of food waste daily.

“Although this is considerably small compared to the 17,000 tonnes of daily food waste Malaysians produce, it is a first step towards tackling climate change,” she said.

Unlocking KL’s attractions

Another top winner of the grant is Tryke Transportation Sdn Bhd, which is Malaysia’s escooter service provider.

Under Project Genie, users can check events happening in Kuala Lumpur all under one application.

Tryke founder Timothy Wong said the idea stemmed from people spending less time exploring the city mainly due to the low awareness of all the activities and events in the city.

“Our data reveals that since 2021, necessity-driven commuters have increased by 100%, but those travelling for leisure have dropped by 85% over the same period.

“This means that people primarily come to the city centre to work rather than to explore the city.

Project Genie will be rolled out soon.Project Genie will be rolled out soon.

“In fact, Kuala Lumpur has so much to offer, but art, culture or history-related events are not widely known to the public.”

Tryke received RM200,000 under The Creative KL Grants Programme and Urban Challenge.

The free, user-generated platform also allows partnering vendors to promote events of public interest while users can access the details using Genie, said Wong.

“Using artificial intelligence, Genie captures vendors’ event announcements online and repackage them into organised information.

“Users who are interested in the events can then visit the venues and establishments using Tryke application, our shared mobility service that was launched in 2019.

BSF do not sting and don’t spread harmful pathogens, according to Ching.BSF do not sting and don’t spread harmful pathogens, according to Ching.

“Via the shared mobility service, the public can rent lightweight electric vehicles (EV) ranging from electric scooters and electric bicycles to electric mopeds to travel between destinations,” he said.

Wong said Project Genie was about 80% ready.

“The Beta version of the application was available since December last year. We are expecting its full roll-out soon.

“There are about 5,000 users in Genie now and we are constantly collecting feedback and data on how our users are interacting with the Genie.

“Ultimately, we want a seamless integration with all the different kinds of mobility services, including third-party transportation options like buses such as RapidKL, ride-hailing services and others,” he added.

Tackling commuter connectivity

Commuters who find it a hassle getting to and from stations or terminals can look forward to the expansion of the demand- responsive transit (DRT) services called Trek Rides in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Asia Mobiliti, Malaysia’s mobility-as-a-service company, has set its sights on revolutionising urban transportation with the DRT services.

Its chief executive and co-founder Ramachandran Muniandy said the service fulfilled demand for the first- and last-mile connectivity in a particular area.

KL commuters can look forward to more DRT services in the second quarter of this year.KL commuters can look forward to more DRT services in the second quarter of this year.

He said the on-demand shared rides were focused on smaller areas where passengers would be picked up and dropped off at specific locations near or within walking distance to their destinations.

Ramachandran said DRT was not the same as ehailing services that ferry passengers from door to door.

“It does not follow sequential booking, where those who book first will be dropped off first, regardless of the route.

“For DRT, the passenger headed to a nearer destination on a similar route will be dropped off first instead,” he said.

Trek Rides DRT Services have been operating in four different zones.

The service is available in Puchong, Ampang, UPM-Serdang and Hulu Kelang in Selangor as well as Universiti Malaya-Bangsar South, in Kuala Lumpur.

Ramachandran (left) riding on the DRT with other passengers.Ramachandran (left) riding on the DRT with other passengers.

The services offered in Selangor are in collaboration with Selangor government, as part of the state’s mobility initiative.

Currently, about four 15-seater or 19-seater vans operate in each zone for 16 hours daily and each passenger is charged RM2 per ride.

“Primarily, each DRT zone covers about 10sq km and it takes into account optimal navigation and routing to avoid traffic congestion, achieving a 15-minute average travelling time at peak and non-peak periods.

“Passengers can book a ride via the mobile application and get to a stop near their destination or an LRT station,” said Ramachandran.

The Trek Rides mobile application also has a Journey feature that allows users to plan their route by incorporating different transport modes.

“Some of the safety features include Electronic-Know-Your-Customers (eKYC) requiring passengers to register their identification and booking numbers for each ride’s booking in the Trek mobile application.”

Ramachandran said the DRT service was expected to be launched in the second quarter of the year in Kuala Lumpur.

“Only 21% of all trips into Kuala Lumpur are via public transport, a low number if we intend for the city to be sustainable.

“Currently, we are in the midst of identifying partners and launching this DRT service in downtown Kuala Lumpur to complement the existing public transport options,” he said, adding that they received RM40,000 from the Think City grant.

Ramachandran said they planned to integrate with the city transport network by adding GoKL buses and other public transport as well as incorporating Tryke shared escooter and bicycle services in the near future.

“What we like to do next is to come out with ride passes for frequent active users to enjoy unlimited rides.

“Ultimately, we want it to be self-sustainable by unlocking non-fare revenue like advertisements and partnerships with other companies,” he added.

Ramachandran envisioned that this would change how Malaysians and tourists discover the city by taking Trek Rides around downtown Kuala Lumpur.

“We would like to incorporate tourism components to include points of interest in the city, by engaging with hotels and vendors,” he said.

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