Abang Johari speaking at the fifth anniversary dinner of Sarawak Research and Development Council at a local hotel on Tuesday night. – Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Oct 11): The Sarawak government will allocate a significant funding under the state budget next year for research, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Abang Johari said it was the state government’s intention for a state-of-the-art research centre to be established in Sarawak and funds would be provided for the procurement of high-end equipment for research works.

“Next state budget, we will give some more funds for research activities. I don’t want to mention the amount yet but we will give substantial allocation for research, including in generative artificial intelligence,” he said when officiating a fifth anniversary dinner of Sarawak Research and Development Council at a local hotel last night.

With the support from research centres, Abang Johari was hopeful that the state could one day develop its very own humanoid robot, similar to the medical assistant robot, Grace that was featured at the just concluded 27th World Congress on Innovation and Technology 2023 and the 6th International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak last week.

He said over the past five years, the state had provided research support to universities and research agencies in the state through the Sarawak Research and Development Council research grant schemes amounting to RM15 million.

“We want to create a conducive and supportive environment for the advancement of research, knowledge enhancement and human capital development throughout Sarawak,” he added.

Abang Johari said one of the notable successes of the research support provided was a medical healthcare innovation from a Sibu-based biomedical company, Twin Catalyst, which had signed a RM30 million deal with a Hong Kong company to sell their product globally.

To better provide a vibrant research ecosystem, he said the Sarawak Research and Development Council had established three subsidiaries, namely SMD Semiconductor, Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre and Sarawak Science Centre, to forge linkages with research institutes worldwide.

Thus, Abang Johari hoped the works of Sarawak Research and Development Council would be recognised globally in the next five years.

Abang Johari also urged the state biodiversity centre to conduct more studies about the state’s vast biodiversity resources, including microalgae cultivation and sustainable aviation fuel production.

He also hoped that the state would be able to attract more chip designers for the state’s semiconductor industry.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Research and Development Council general manager Dr Peter Morin Nissom said the agency would be expanding their innovation partnership to facilitate the translation of research from intellectual properties into products and services.

He added that the centre was also looking at attracting entrepreneurs to develop their start-up in life science and co-creating an innovation ecosystem with other research entities.

“Our toughest challenge actually lies here in Sarawak in getting agencies to support a central coordinating body that gives research grants, as well as doing performance monitoring of research and development projects,” he said.