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      08 September 2018  

YB Arifin Asgali Assistant Minister in Chief Minister's Office visits SAIP

SAIP, Papar (Saturday) - The Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) on Thursday received a courtesy visit at the Sabah Agro-Industrial Precinct (SAIP) from Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, YB Arifin Asgali. The Assistant Minister was given a briefing on the SAIP project and the programmes and initiatives available.

  Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Office, YB Arifin Asgali (sixth from right) receiving a memento from Justin Janim, Principal Senior Executive at the Sabah Agro-Industrial Precinct

Located at Kimanis, in the district of Papar with an estimated area of 215 acres, SAIP is envisaged to become a 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 key economic clusters under the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), SAIP will serve as a test-bed for carrying out biotech-driven research and development and to develop biotech-driven businesses. Unlike other existing science and technology parks in other states in Malaysia, SAIP has a distinct focus on specialty natural products (SNPs), agro-biotech and health food products.

By 2017, all of the physical construction works on phases one and two of the SAIP project development, together with the procurement of various machinery and equipment, have been completed. These two phases of development consist of six facility infrastructure, housing the Administration and Incubation Centre, Research, Development, Commercialisation and Innovation (RDCI) Laboratory, Post-Harvest Collection and Handling centre, Production Line Facility (for food processing), Herb Manufacturing centre, and Controlled-Environment Farming Greenhouses. The machinery and equipment at SAIP include over 45 laboratory equipment, specific for conducting plant tissue culture, horticulture research, product development, and food analysis. More than 90 types of machinery and equipment are also provided for agriculture and herb downstream processing. SAIP is also currently undergoing certification for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

YB Arifin had visited SAIP along with a group of local entrepreneurs, and the delegation was keen to know about the machinery and services that SEDIA offers to local SMEs and start-ups. The delegation was brought on a tour of SAIP, and had the opportunity to see the various machineries at the production line facility that had been fully in place since 2017. The Assistant Minister was also glad to be informed that SAIP staff comprised of officers from different fields of sciences that are able to assist entrepreneurs in various capacities. Meanwhile, the group of entrepreneurs were also keen to learn more about the entrepreneur assistance programmes available at SAIP.

Realising the potential of SME contribution to the state economy, SEDIA had developed initiatives for, and have been actively involved in, SME development in Sabah commencing during the Second Phase of SDC (2011-2015) and into the current Third and final Phase of SDC (2016-2025). The SME programmes are also in line with one of the three principles of SDC, which is capturing economic value activities. The SDC SME programmes are to help entrepreneurs, start-ups and companies to discover business ideas, validate as well as scale up their ventures.

One of the initiatives available at SAIP is the Agro-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, 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-incubator initiative, the programme also screens and selects potential agro-technopreneurs, thus preparing them to operate under a conducive incubator business environment. As at August 2018, SEDIA had recorded close to 2,000 participants spread over 34 Agro-SAIP courses conducted since 2012.

A crucial component of SDC SME programmes is the SDC SME Incubator programme, whereby the programme is conducted over a two-year period through two types of setups based on their location, namely In-Situ (on-site) and Ex-Situ (off-site) Incubation. In-Situ Incubation is hosted at SAIP, supported by the shared basic facilities. The incubatees will get access to technical and business advisory services from business development and technical officers stationed in SAIP. These services are available to participants of the Incubator programme on a pro-bono basis during the two-year period, however non-participants can access these services at an attractive fee. As at July 2018, there are a total of 259 In-Situ and Ex-Situ incubatees, and a total of RM11.86 million in grants approved for these incubatees.

Apart from the Agro-SAIP programme, local entrepreneurs have been introduced to the Incubation programme through a series of roadshows held during 2016 and 2017. The roadshow programmes comprised of talks covering various industry opportunities and business assistance, business matching opportunities, advisory services by government agencies, as well as mini exhibitions to display the products of entrepreneurs and start-ups, including those developed under the SAIP business incubator programme. SEDIA had also promoted these initiatives during its SDC 10-year anniversary carnival during March 15-18, 2018. The response had been encouraging, as the combined number of participants and visitors was more than 10,000. This is in addition to SEDIA's other efforts to reach out to local entrepreneurs, by regularly participating in exhibitions and expositions throughout the state, that had attracted thousands of visitors.

A core component in the incubator initiative is the BizLink 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 BizLink 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 HotDesk service, whereby ready staffs are available to provide hands-on assistance to facilitate and mentor entrepreneurs through discussion, entrepreneurial training and brainstorming sessions.

- Media SEDIA

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