”The facility will focus on the development of natural compounds using Evolva’s yeast fermentation production platform to further sustainable production of Malaysia’s high value indigenous ingredients,” said Mohd Nazlee Kamal of BiotechCorp, which is partnering with Evolva in developing the centre of excellence.
“Malaysia has abundant natural products with significant potential to be developed into high-purity, active ingredients for the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and other high-end industries.
“With Evolva’s platform and UMP’s research strength, the centre is impetus in our efforts to establish links between a science knowledge base and the business community.
“This will create value for other industries with significant economic opportunities to benefit Malaysia’s Bioeconomy agenda.”
The facility’s first project will focus on the production of agarwood fragrances via yeast fermentation. The development of a range of agarwood products in this way should allow Malaysia to significantly widen the use of agarwood worldwide.
Agarwood of the Aquilaria and Gyrinops variety has been prized for centuries by perfume makers and traditional medicine practitioners. More recently, it has been designated an endangered species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Despite conservation measures and concerted efforts to grow Aquilaria and Gyrinops in tree nurseries and organic tree farms, these evergreens are rapidly vanishing from forests due to high demand.
According to data collected by the Wild Trade Monitoring Network, the global supply of wild agarwood could vanish from the planet in less than two years.
UMP vice-chancellor Daing Nasir Ibrahim said: “Our capacity building in scientific facilities and academic talents in the last two years has positioned UMP to play a meaningful role in this truly interesting partnership venture.”
Neil Goldsmith, Evolva’s chief executive, added: “We are looking forward to determining if agarwood compounds might be amenable to production via biosynthesis and yeast fermentation.
“If successful, this centre’s global and multi-disciplinary efforts will produce both positive economic and environmental benefits for us all.”