Mr Korin Suzuki and Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohamad Morshidi bin Abdul Ghani exchanging the agreement documents, flanked by the Mitsubishi team on the left and members and representatives of the Sarawak Biodiversity Council on the right.
Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) and Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) will move into the next phase of a strategic collaboration on microalgae research which began in year 2012.
The duration of the first phase was for two years. This collaboration will continue for another 2 years into the next phase until 2016 and research will be undertaken at the laboratories in SBC.
The collaboration between SBC and MC is a step towards the development of microalgae research and industrial biotechnology.
This collaboration will leverage a diversity-based algae research platform to discover local species that could be developed for renewable fuels, as well as proteins and carotenoids for animal feed and nutritional supplements.
It also aims to identify new algae resources that will accelerate its commercialization, therefore contributing to Sarawak’s bioeconomy.
The target of the earlier collaboration has established a collection of unique microalgae strains from various locations including river, lake, brackish and coastal waters in Sarawak.
The area extended from Kuching to Bako, Mukah, Loagan Bunut,Tanjung Dato, Similajau, Long Iman and Mulu.
The rationale for the collection in different environment and ecology systems is important in getting a high diversity of strains.
Sarawak is an ideal place for microalgae to grow because of its ecological factors such as tropical climate and water resources that are rich in nutrients.
The current living library collection in SBC consists of 500 species. The library is important as it facilitates research as a centralized depository.
More importantly, the library offers a gateway to biotechnology companies that are interested to embark on their research promptly without having to invest in initial search and collection.
Interest in microalgae research has been gaining momentum over the years.
Scientists and researchers have recognized the importance of microalgae for nutraceuticals, animal feed, and renewable fuels.
Microalgae are considered a promising potential feedstock for next-generation biofuel because certain species contain high amounts of oil. Other benefit is as dietary supplements like Spirulina and Chorella.
Under the next phase of the MC-SBC collaboration, four applications of microalgae are targeted. These are fuel, food, feed and functional material (Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
Following the preliminary research at SBC, several groups of microalgae which produce precursors for biofuel and PUFAs have been identified and are being developed.
The signing ceremony of MC-SBC collaboration was held at the Sarawak State Secretary’s office on 5th June 2015.
The agreement was signed between Mr Korin Suzuki, general manager of New Business Development Office, on behalf of MC and YB Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohamad Morshidi bin Abdul Ghani Sarawak State Secretary, who is also Chairman of Sarawak Biodiversity Council.
Mr Kenji Ota, Chief Executive in Malaysia for MC and Dr. Yeo Tiong Chia, Acting CEO of SBC witnessed the signing.
Also present at the signing ceremony which took place at the State Secretary’s office were MC’s research team, members and representatives of the Sarawak Biodiversity Council, and the SBC’s algae research team.