BIOGENES TECHNOLOGIES (Biogenes) inked a new alliance with the Malaysian Society for Sensor Technology Development (SENSOR Malaysia) to promote translational research and create a skilled workforce to empower sensor technology development in the country.
“It is a kickstart to foster academia-industry partnership in the sensor-tech field. Biogenes will be providing RM 50,000 annually for a period of three years to the members of SENSOR Malaysia to nurture local talents, provide funding for the purpose of research, attend international conferences, and organising capacity building activities,” Prof ChM Dr Lee Yook Heng, Chairman of SENSOR Malaysia told The Petri Dish recently.
The MoA was inked by Lee and the executive director of Biogenes, Tang Kok Mun, during the National Sensor Technology Forum 2023 at University Putra Malaysia.
The event was witnessed by Datuk Aminuddin Hassim, secretary general of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).
“Through our partnership with Biogenes we are stepping into industrial collaboration. There are still linkages that need to be filled between academia and industry collaboration. During our earlier days, we were aiming for more high-impact research collaborations in the area of sensors but gradually we realised more translational research initiatives are needed for commercialisation purposes,” said Lee.
He said the expected outcome of this three-year collaboration is to form a stronger academia-industry voice, developing products with the integration of technologies from different universities and forming an ecosystem for the sensor-tech field.
“Unlike the automotive field, the sensor field does not have a driver to push the industry forward and currently, we are working in a silo with little focus on economic benefit,” he added.
Sensor technology is becoming more evident with the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Industry 4.0. In Internet of Things (IoT), sensors are used to collect data from various sources and send it to cloud-based platforms for analysis. Sensor application in healthcare is becoming more popular than ever with implantable sensors that can monitor critical activities of internal organs and health tracking apps.
“However, for Malaysia in the case of healthcare, there is a missing link between technology developers and end users such as clinics and hospitals. When a homegrown diagnostic kit enters the market, it faces a lot of resistance from medical practitioners as there is less data to support the efficiency of the kit and the market is not matured. These are a few challenges that need to be addressed in the sensor field, and industrial collaboration will open up the market,” pointed out Lee.
“Apart from the healthcare, food, automotive, agriculture and environmental fields also optimises sensor technology vastly. There are many opportunities for local start-ups to tap into these opportunities, especially in the area of developing smart cities in Malaysia,” he said.
Lee also applauded Biogenes for being an exemplary local startup that has ventured into medical diagnostic kit using sensor technology.
SENSOR Malaysia’s formation in 2013 was based on the idea of the National Biosensor Research Group, which was formed in 2000 with a handful of scientists where sensor-tech then was still a jargon for many.
“There was a need to create more awareness on sensor technology back then,” recalled Lee.
“Later we decided to establish a sensor technology group to create a network among the sensor technology experts and discover new synergies across different fields.”
“In 2013, the sensor technology group was registered as a society and named as Malaysia Society for Sensor Technology Development which consists of 90 members now from diverse backgrounds,” added Lee.
“Asiasense is our flagship conference held to bring experts across different countries to present their latest research findings, ideas, and applications in the sensor-tech field. This conference has taken place in different Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Korea to boost international collaborations.”
“Recently, we have received attention from MOSTI and the Academy of Science Malaysia (ASM) for collaboration in moving the field of sensor technology in Malaysia. We also conduct training programmes on sensor technologies, our webinars and courses are well attended by research workers, academics and graduates,” said Lee.
Furthermore, to promote research culture among the members of SENSOR Malaysia, Lee said that through the SENSOR Malaysia-Biogenes Research Fund (SBRF), the members from SENSOR Malaysia are provided with small research grants to pursuit novel sensor research.