KUCHING: Sarawak will collaborate with Cambridge University on research and development projects and capacity building for local researchers under a scientific exchange programme.
The Sarawak Research and Development Council (SRDC) exchanged documents on the programme with the Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences (CATS) on Friday (Dec 6) after a memorandum of agreement was signed earlier between both parties.
State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin said the agreement provided a framework to facilitate and expand cooperation in science and technology between the two organisations.
"It also provides a mechanism for research and development efforts that facilitate the exchange of scientific data and results, protect intellectual property rights and establish partnerships between departments and institutes of Cambridge University and their counterpart research institutions in Sarawak," he said.
Manyin, who is also a council member of SRDC, added that the agreement would lead to a transfer of knowledge and technology from Cambridge to Sarawak.
"The agreement will be for five years for a start, but if there is a need it can be extended beyond five years," he said.
SRDC general manager Dr Peter Morin said the council would send two researchers a year from Sarawak for training at Cambridge University under the agreement.
He said researchers from any research agency in the state could apply to SRDC for the programme.
"If they meet our criteria, we will send them to Cambridge. It will cost us RM2mil a year," he said.
CATS director Prof Christopher Robin Lowe said the university saw a "major opportunity" to work with Sarawak, particularly in capacity building for research and development in pharmaceutical products from the state's rich biodiversity.
"We're looking to see who we can bring back to Cambridge to train over a period of time and to come back to Sarawak to direct research and take it further.
"We're also keen to see that develop into commercialisation of products here in Sarawak," he said.
SRDC also signed an agreement with Curtin Biovalley Sdn Bhd to manage, operate and maintain the Sarawak biovalley pilot plant at Curtin University Malaysia Campus in Miri.
The pilot plant will support the development of new bio-based products and processes, provide research and development facilities to assist industries and execute contract research and training to help develop Sarawak's bio-economy.
"The expectation of the state government is that the biovalley pilot plant can stimulate the development of products from our biodiversity," Manyin said.