The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) is proud that it is able to commercialise 30 per cent of its research and development (R&D) findings compared with the national average of 5 per cent, possibly making it the country's top R&D agency.
MPOB chairman Datuk Sabri Ahmad said the government-owned watchdog agency for the country's palm oil industry will continue to churn an average of 40 new technologies a year for companies that want to boost their productivity and efficiency.
MPOB released 412 R&D findings in 2008 which are ready for commercialisation.
"Among the technologies we launched into the market is via a collaboration with a company to improve oil palm milling operations where the company managed to save labour cost by slashing the number of workers from 70 to 12.
"MPOB also introduced many palm oil seeds, fertilisers, biodiesel, harvesting machines, palm oil-based car components, vitamin E and many other technologies spanning the entire oil palm supply and demand chain from upstream to downstream," Sabri told Business Times at the board's headquarters recently.
The commercialisation of R&D is the bane of many academic institutions all around the world where there are not many takers.
This is due to many factors including companies unwilling to venture into something new, the fear of not being able to recoup investments due to the long wait and difficulties in getting bank loans.
As a result, many findings languish at the labs.
Sabri said MPOB is also intensifying collaborative research with other universities throughout the world on the goodness of palm oil such as the University of London, Beijing University and Copenhagen University.
"As an example, MPOB together with Beijing University have formulated a blend of palm kernel cake with other ingredients to make higher quality animal feed," said Sabri.
MPOB also invites scientists from all over the world, every year in April, to interact with MPOB's 200 scientists. They also help evaluate and advise local R&D findings as well as give lectures.
"It is important to develop MPOB's human capital and attract the best brains into MPOB by exposing them to global scientists," said Sabri.
MPOB funds its R&D activites by imposing a RM15 cess to each tonne of crude palm oil produced by the industry, of which RM9 goes to MPOB, RM4 for a price stabilisation fund and RM2 for advertisement and promotion activities carried out by another agency, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.