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Sarawak to establish first bio-industrial park

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KUCHING: Sarawak will set up its first bio-industrial park, through Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC).

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the park in Samarahan would take up the challenge of bringing in new investments from across the globe to produce bio-related goods.

“I see that SBC has played a vital role through its documentation of traditional knowledge and collaboration campaigns with key players in research and development to leverage on biodiversity discoveries that can be commercialised,” he said in a speech, read by Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin during SBC’s 21st anniversary dinner on Friday.

Abang Johari said engaging the indigenous communities to become partners in the commercialisation process was important, pointing out that Malaysia is party to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.

“This signifies we are moving towards a sustainable use of our biodiversity by working directly with our indigenous communities to manage their villages’ bioresources and to implement benefit sharing on the commercialisation of those products.

“I am proud to say that Sarawak, through SBC, is on the forefront in sharing benefits with the indigenous communities through the first benefit sharing agreement on March 20 this year,” he said.

Abang Johari said developing the state’s bioeconomy towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution would require incorporating enabling and converging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet of Things (IoT),  nanotechnology, and biotechnology. He also said Sarawak was on the right track with the recent launch of the algae cultivation facility at SBC – a result from the collaboration between SBC, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Chitose Group.

“They explored the algae biodiversity in Sarawak and now it is time to commercialise them into products. In this facility, the team also devised a digital monitoring system to optimise the growth of the algae through IoT sensors and a feedback system.

“This is one of the ways to go forward to drive the digital ambition of Sarawak that will make it a developed state by 2030,” he said.

Meanwhile, SBC chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot said SBC had reached a milestone where it needed to explore business model development in the commercialisation of their potential products, research findings, and innovations.

He said this was where SBC could leverage on the expertise of partnerships from multiple sectors.

He noted that one of the most important assets owned by the SBC was its library of natural products – a unique collection comprising over 25,000 extracts from plants, 29,000 from microbes, and more than 600 microalgae strains.

“We also have more than 500 collection of essential oils, seven scent tracks, and 15 chemically characterised compounds.

“This (library) has drawn interest from local and international collaborators to develop the library of natural products into commercialised products, such as for food flavouring and colourants, cosmeceutical, and pharmaceutical,” said Wilson.

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