Bioindustry and 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 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.
Food and Agriculture
The goal of the Agriculture and Food domain is to support innovation for more efficient and sustainable agricultural production to enhance food security, incomes, and nutrition that benefit small-scale farmers. Such programme will inculcate participation of poor and vulnerable sectors of rural societies in food and agricultural value chains and agribusiness commodity systems, food and nutrition security, productivity-enhancing innovations and modern technologies, natural resource management, climate change mitigation and adaption in agricultural and rural development to create resilient agricultural systems and community. The focus areas are on new or underutilised crops and high-value animal products to boost local economy as well as accessibility to affordable nutrition, new technology and approach in sustainable agriculture and food safety, and commercialisation and globalisation of Sarawak produce. Priority is also given to research that contributes to the development of improved market access and agricultural value chains for small holders.
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.
Engineering Science and Technology
Engineering science is one of the key components in Sarawak that strengthen our existing industries particularly in oil and gas, and energy. It is also one of the key factors that enables us to progress from labour-intensive economy to innovation-led economy. Engineering and manufacturing are sectors that significantly contributed to state gross domestic product, and employment. In light of increasing external competitive pressures and internal factor constraints, research and development in engineering science play key roles in strengthening current existing sectors, enhancing productivity whilst seeding growth in new niches. Within the domain of engineering science, several focus areas have been identified to enable Sarawak to compete in global arena and creating knowledge-intensive jobs for Sarawakians including technology development for renewable energy, manufacturing process and development of medical devices, improve industrial waste management including repurposing, and offshore engineering for oil and gas industry as well as renewable energy. Such areas will require several intersecting technologies to be established including robotics and automation, and advance material research and manufacturing.