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      06 February 2017  

SEDIA receives courtesy visit by Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation

Kimanis (Monday) - The Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) today received a courtesy visit from Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) at the Sabah Agro-Industrial Precinct (SAIP), Kimanis. The minister was met by SEDIA Chief Executive Datuk Dr. Mohd Yaakub Hj Johari with other senior officers of SEDIA.

  Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau (left) during the walkabout of the SAIP business incubatees and their products

In his welcoming remarks, Datuk Dr. Yaakub had informed those present that the SAIP project had received early funding from MOSTI, which represented the second major input impetus to the development of the project, while expressing his thanks to YB Datuk Seri Panglima Madius for being the first minister of MOSTI to visit SAIP. The support from MOSTI had allowed for the development of a biotech satellite initiative, a tea tree commercialisation project, as well as an Herbal Medicine Knowledge Base (HMKB). The biotech satellite initiative had run two research studies, investigating and indentifying microbial community succession of dairy and poultry manure, and also analysing the effect of four locally-made composts on the asiaticoside content in cultivated pegaga. The tea tree commercialisation project was aimed at developing a complete localisation of the technologies to successfully develop tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) as a commercial crop in Sabah. The protocol and expertise acquired via this project would help the state venture into new industries in Sabah such as essential oil from the state's rich biodiversity resources. The HMKB project utilises semantic technology, allowing relationships and links between concepts to be formed within the knowledge base, and provides a service of identifying traditional herbal medicine for ideas on new drugs or treatments.

During the visit to SAIP, the minister had presented letters of approval to the recipients of funds under the SEDIA bumiputera SME incubator programme, which is provided for capacity building and business financing of Bumiputera entrepreneurs. The incubation programme is designed to encourage the creation of new entrepreneurs especially in knowledge-intensive sectors; meant to create greater awareness of business opportunities as well as facilitate access to business support and shared services.

Following the presentation of approval letters, the MOSTI minister was given a short briefing on SAIP facilities, initiatives, and incubation programmes. As one of the economic clusters available under the SDC, fiscal incentives offered for activities at SAIP include Investment Tax Allowance of 100% for 10 years, which can be offset against statutory income. Located at Kimanis, in the district of Papar with an estimated area of 215 acres, SAIP is envisaged to become a new centre of excellence in agro-biotechnology that optimises the state's biodiversity and abundant natural resources to produce higher value-added food and specialty products based on botanicals, aquatic plants and animals. As one of the Entry Point Projects (EPPs) under the Sabah Development Corridor, SAIP will serve as a test-bed for carrying out biotech-driven research and development (R&D) and to develop biotech-driven businesses. Unlike other existing science and technology parks (STP) in other states in Malaysia, SAIP has a distinct focus on Specialty Natural Products (SNP), agro-biotech and health food products.

The minister also had remarked on the various avenues for collaboration between MOSTI, including the agencies under its helm, and SEDIA, as well as between MOSTI and other government agencies. Among the agencies under the MOSTI umbrella, Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia (YIM) is tasked with exploring further collaborative ties with the state government and its agencies, and had recently seconded Mr. Anthony Kiob from the Institute for Development Studies, Sabah (IDS) as its new CEO, as at February 2017. YIM is also looking into increasing exposure of Malaysians to new technology development, such as its efforts to build standards for cryptocurrency, which is a new form of payment in the digital economy. Another of its agencies, Majlis Rekabentuk Malaysia (MRM) is looking to improve the design thinking of Malaysians, such as in the development of website design as well as branding. MOSTI itself has been pushing for the development of entrepreneurs, whereby it had assisted 15 companies in entering the stock exchange. MOSTI also initiated the Malaysia Commercialisation Year 2016 which succeeded to commercialise around 150 local products last year. The success experienced will see Malaysia Commercialisation year continued into 2017.

One of the initiatives available at SAIP is the 1Agro-SAIP Training Programme, which was established with the aim to empower technopreneurs in the agri-based industry, by giving the necessary exposure and transfer of knowledge, especially on the processing of agri-food and SNPs. Through the training programme, participants are given access to experienced speakers and industry representatives in various sectors; speakers well-versed in pharma-herbs, Controlled Environment Farming (CEF), post-harvest handling technology, agro-organic and agro-food industries, business and marketing through E-Commence, and bio-science and biotechnology had been invited to come and share their experience and expertise with participants. Designed to be a part of the SAIP pre-incubation initiative, the programme also screens and selects potential agro-technopreneurs, thus preparing them to operate under a conducive incubator business environment.

Following up in the incubator stage is the 1BizLink programme, meant to assist aspiring entrepreneurs initiate businesses revolved around downstream agri-products, especially those that utilise science- and technology-based advancements. Through the SDC, the 1BizLink development programme functions by assisting new entrepreneurs and start-ups, unlocking the potential in SMEs to further accelerate their growth, as well as linking businesses to the SDC economic clusters. The programme also provides a Hot Desk service, whereby ready staffs are available to provide hands-on assistance to facilitate and mentor entrepreneurs through discussion, entrepreneurial training and brainstorming sessions.

An accelerator programme is also available for SMEs to further develop their business and enable larger-scale growth, facilitating access to financing for existing Bumiputera SMEs seeking business expansion. These programmes will complement existing Teras and Facilitation grants under TERAJU@SDC which have been implemented in the SDC under the joint supervision of SEDIA and TERAJU.

- Media SEDIA

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