The Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) recently received a visit from Genichi Ichikawa, the new Chief Executive in Malaysia, and General Manager, Kuala Lumpur Branch of Mitsubishi Corporation. He was accompanied by Kenji Ohta, the former Chief Executive in Malaysia and GM of Kuala Lumpur Branch. Ohta is also the current Senior Vice President, General Manager, Energy Business Group CEO Office, Mitsubishi Tokyo.
During the visit, Ohta introduced Ichikawa to the team at SBC and the Chairman of the Sarawak Biodiversity Council, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot.
The Centre has been in a collaboration with Mitsubishi Corporation since year 2012 when both parties signed a collaborative agreement at the Biomalaysia Conference in Kuala Lumpur. The signing of the agreement kicked off the first phase of exploration of diverse algae biodiversity in Sarawak.
The collaborative effort in the first phase recorded a total of 807 samples of algae collected from both freshwater and marine environments throughout Sarawak.
From thereon, the parties moved into the second phase between years 2014 and 2016, to identify and isolate algae strains based on their utilization. This further led to the current phase three of the collaboration (2016-2018), in which the construction of a large scale (1,000m2) outdoor photo-bioreactor (PBR) facility at SBC to cultivate selected algae strains, is nearing completion.
This is a one of its kind algae culture facility, specially constructed to test the growth performance of specific algae species before they are considered for commercial applications.
The recent visit by Ichikawa marks the commitment of Mitsubishi Corporation and SBC to develop future applications of algae found in Sarawak for aquaculture, nutraceuticals, as well as, alternative source for biofuels.