Guidelines

The Sarawak Research and Development Council (Sarawak RDC) research funds will cover disciplines in science and technology (excluding digital technology). The Council does not support social sciences, economics, and the arts and humanities, but these may be incorporated into submissions as collaboration and synergistic research activities.

How to apply

Applications are to be completed in English and submitted through the grant management system, RPMON, which is available under Research tab.

Before you begin, take note of these key points:

  • Existing recipients of Sarawak RDC grants are ineligible to apply as main applicant
  • Proposals which are currently being funded by other grants or similarly themed will not be considered.
  • No two or more research teams from same entity should be submitting separate proposals on similarly themed projects. They should instead collaborate and submit one proposal only.
  • Sarawak RDC funds are not to be used for capital expenditures (CAPEX), such as purchase of equipment, or construction of buildings.
  • The funds must not be used as a means to fund student stipends or hire research assistants in its entirety.
  • One application only per applicant. Multiple submissions will be rejected.

Prior to making application, applicants are to review the Sarawak RDC's Research Priority Areas for 2020 outlined below. 

Sarawak RDC Research Priority Areas for 2020


Biomedical Sciences

Healthcare and biomedical sciences sector including life science is a rapidly growing and evolving global market. It is an important contributor to the health outcomes of the people of Sarawak and holds huge potential in contributing towards Sarawak’s economy. The biomedical sciences research direction will be geared towards public health, drug discoveries, translational science from laboratories to communities, hospitals and industries, and innovative medicines or medical devices, with the aim of improving health outcomes, accessibility and affordability particularly in rural Sarawak. The areas of interest and research activities are aligned with the areas identified by the World Health Organisation, Sarawak State Health Department and Ministry of Health Malaysia which are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance. Drug discovery programme tapping into the vast natural product resources of the Sarawak rainforest will be developed further incorporating state research institutes, local start-ups and enterprises, and multinationals in collaborations with international research institutions. Such synergy will enable outcome-based programmed that will drive research and development, and state economic growth.

Priority Areas

  1. New drug/chemical entity discovery from Sarawak biodiversity, activity testing against diseases identified above incorporating high throughput screening and product development; 
  2. applied research on sustainable use of Sarawak biodiversity for industries such as nutriceuticals and food.
  3. Cutting edge precision medicine and theranostic capability utilizing phenome science.
  4. Assay development, vaccines and therapeutics
  5. Point of care diagnostic/prognostic kit development.


Biodiversity and Environment (including forestry)

Sarawak, being part of the Borneo island, is blessed with the oldest rainforest in the world and its immense biodiversity ranging from terrestrial to marine life. This vast ecosystem is the centre of evolution for many endemic species some of which have not been discovered and/or documented. Further, traditional usage of Bornean flora and faunas for medicinal, culinary and various other purposes have not been thoroughly documented, investigated and commercialised. Such knowledge may hold potential key to discovery of new drugs and other products useful to the global community. With increasing demand for food, agriculture and forest-based products, intensified agriculture and forest production are expected to impact on our ecosystem and biodiversity. One of the key challenges will be to identify solutions for a greener more sustainable economy that balance and utilise potential synergies between biodiversity, conservation and various classes of ecosystem services, including agricultural and forest yields. However, current models are weak in their ability to predict the impacts of climate and landscape changes on biodiversity, while empirical evidence for hypothesised systematic effects of biodiversity changes on ecosystem functioning, particularly in Sarawak, remains sparse and contradictory. Biodiversity research domain encompasses various sectors from biodiversity, forestry, conservation science and commercialisation of products through sustainable and greener processes. The goal is to foster closer cooperation and synergy among the sectors identified above through research on conservation science, sustainable forestry, green production processes, climate-ecosystem adaption and cultural traditional knowledge and practice with community enabling policy i.e. Access and Benefit Sharing scheme and approaches embedded.

Priority Areas

  1. Assessment of current and emerging threats to Sarawak biodiversity such as climate change.
  2. Conservation science on novel approaches to sustainable forestry and protection of biodiversity and ecosystem.
  3. Advanced forestry research in area of genetics, adaptive responses, growth, disease resistance and sustainable forestry.


Non priority areas

Outstanding proposals in the non-priority areas of Agriculture and Food, and Engineering Science and Technology, may be considered in these areas of interests:

Agriculture and Food

- Utility of new or underutilised crops as new cash crop

- New technology and approach in sustainable agriculture and food security including plant genetics, adaptive responses and disease resistance

- Soil and bio-enrichment research to find the right crop for the right soil-nutrient condition.

Engineering Science and Technology

- Medical device manufacturing and technology development

- Industrial waste management, recycling and repurposing

- Construction on peat

- Technology research and development for renewable energy

 

Types of Research and Development grants

Sarawak RDC will support excellent proposals which are new research or innovation with a clear impact pathway that has the potential to be commercialised.

1. Research Initiation fund

Sarawak has promising researchers and scientists whose desire to contribute to the state’s development through research and knowledge dissemination initiatives is hindered by lack of funds. This situation serves as a barrier to translating promising research and training into scientific outputs that could be applied to promote development. To address this concern and in line with the Council's thrust of promoting, undertaking and coordinating research programs relevant to the development of the state, Sarawak RDC will dedicate funds to be known as the Research Initiation Fund (RIF). The RIF is envisaged to provide chosen research project proposals with start-up funds intended to enhance chances of securing long-term support from federal or state agencies.

Funding amount and duration:

Applicants are advised that grant amount is capped at RM55,000 for a research duration of up to 3 years.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

1.       The principal applicant must be early-career researcher (ECR)* who will be the Principal investigator (PI) for the project.

2.       The principal applicant must reside in Sarawak and be full-time employed researchers at a public sector research organization in Sarawak (hospitals, universities, polytechnics, and research institutions), and the proposed project must be carried out at this institution.

3.       The principal applicant must have a co-applicant who is at least an Associate Professor level, or show established seniority and research credentials in the subject area, to act as mentor. The co-applicant need not be based in Sarawak.

4.       Researchers must be able to bear responsibility for the project throughout the entire project period.

5.       For the avoidance of doubt, researchers from industry are eligible to receive funding, but should participate via a joint collaboration with a co-applicant from the agencies or established research entities. The Sarawak RDC reserves right to exercise discretion on this.

* Early-career researcher (ECR)* – completed a post-graduate research education or post-graduate clinical training, within the past 3 years, and not more than 5 years.


2. CATALYST FUND

CATALYST grants enable an organization/research team to carry out mission orientated, focus, and output driven innovative research. Funding awards are intended to foster close collaboration and synergy between research agencies within Sarawak, and with counterparts globally and in Malaysia. CATALYST grants support projects carried out by a group of two to four individual researchers, of which one will be designated as the corresponding Principal Investigator (PI). Proposals will be evaluated on the sole criteria of scientific excellence and innovation as well as outstanding intrinsic synergistic effect. Proposals with clear commercialisable outcome have an added advantage.

Funding amount and duration:

Applicants are advised that grant amount is capped at RM250,000 for a research duration of up to 3 years.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

1.       The Principal investigator (PI) for the project must reside in Sarawak and be full-time employed researchers at a public sector research organization in Sarawak (hospitals, universities, polytechnics, and research institutions), and the proposed project must be carried out at this institution.

2.       PI must present an early achievement track-record or a five-year track-record, whichever is most appropriate. The principal applicant must be at least an Associate Professor level, or show established seniority and research credentials in the subject area, to act as mentor. The co-applicants need not be based in Sarawak, but is ideal.

3.       Co-applicants are encouraged to be comprising ECR, and students pursuing postgraduate degree, or clinicians.

4.       Researchers must be able to bear responsibility for the project throughout the entire project period.

5.       For the avoidance of doubt, researchers from industry are eligible to receive funding, but should participate via a joint collaboration with a co-applicant from the agencies or established research entities. The Sarawak RDC reserves right to exercise discretion on this.


3. SPECIAL VENTURES FUND (SVF)

Special Ventures Fund provides funding that enables an organization/research team to carry out specific projects, programs and campaigns. Priority for SVF will be given to projects that align with Sarawak RDC's priorities and advance the state of Sarawak’s strategic visions and development goals. One of the main roles of Sarawak RDC is to drive technological advancement through small medium enterprise (SME) in Sarawak. The SVF will provide early phase funds to Sarawak-based SMEs including technology start-ups to conduct research and development activities geared towards commercialization of the research outcomes, and attract venture capitals to invest in Sarawak. This grant is applicable to all Sarawak-based SMEs conducting research and development activities. The SVF operates on a 1:1 match funding scheme on projects that are identified to be aligned with state vision, economic and development goals.

Sarawak RDC will negotiate profit sharing with the institutions/organizations as appropriate.

Funding amount and duration:

Applicants are advised that grant amount is capped at RM200,000 from Sarawak RDC. The duration of research will be up to 3 years with heavy emphasis on outcome deliverables i.e. product and/or technology.


ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA


  • Main applicant must be a legitimate start-up company or an established company incorporated in Sarawak.
  • Company must provide a 1:1 challenge match. A company that is offered the SVF will be required to raise or have already secured an equal amount of funding from other sources in order to claim this award. This must be a cash match. "in-kind" services will not qualify as meeting the match.
  • Sarawak RDC reserves right to withdraw the grant offer should the company not be able to contribute the matching portion of the grant.


4. COMMERCIALISATION FUND

Commercialisation Fund (PCF) is aimed at assisting local researchers, agencies, and companies to commercialise their proven and market driven product/solutions/services. Funding is available on a competitive basis and is intended to support focused, performance-based projects whereby applicant must show realistic and achievable technical and commercial targets. Products/services/solutions with high commercial potential are sought for our support.

Sarawak RDC will negotiate profit sharing with the institutions/organizations as appropriate.


Funding amount:

Applicants are advised that grant amount is capped at RM130,000 from Sarawak RDC. Applicants may only access this fund once per project.

 

5. THEMATIC PROGRAMMES 2020 - 2022


Theme 1: ‘Waging War Against Anti-microbial Resistance’

Funding allocation: RM5,000,000

Ceiling: varies per project proposal

Duration: 3-5 years

Aim: To develop and advance research programme in anti-microbial resistant and discovery of new anti-microbials against clinically relevant pathogens

Objectives


1. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms and cellular biology of anti-microbial resistance using systems biology approaches

2. To identify and validate new druggable targets for existing and novel anti-microbials

3. To establish in depth understanding on the complex dynamic interactions between host, pathogens and environment on anti-microbial resistance status, evolution and transmission

4. To accelerate therapeutic discovery and establish pipeline for next generation anti-microbial development



Theme 2: ‘Engkabang, the Wonders of Sarawak’

Funding allocation: RM5,000,000

Ceiling: varies per project proposal

Duration: 3-5 years

Aim: To develop comprehensive research programme into phenotypic characterization and establishing the medicinal properties of Shorea macrophylla (Engkabang)


Objectives


1. To elucidate the medicinal properties of aqueous and organic extracts of Shorea macrophylla

2. To isolate, purify and chemically characterize compounds derived from Shorea macrophylla extracts that showed medicinal properties

3. To establish in depth understanding on the molecular mechanism of action of, and accelerate therapeutic discovery from, compounds derived from Shorea macrophylla

4. To characterize the phenotype and understand the growth biology, disease resistance and ancestry of Shorea macrophylla


APPLICATION CRITERIA AND GUIDELINES


1. Proposals must be submitted by a Research Consortium of at least 2 partners from the following sectors: health care, public sector, academia, business and civil society.

2. Lead partner must be based in Sarawak.

3. Funding is available for multi-agency, multi-disciplinary projects addressing either one or more of the objectives, or all of the objectives of the themes above.

4. The spirit of these programmes are to encourage collaboration and sharing of resources among research institutions and agencies in Sarawak, thus submission by a single entity will not be considered.

5. In line with point 5 on page 3, similarly themed proposals from different entities will be encouraged to collaborate.

6. Details of these thematic programmes are available on our website.