Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) and Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) will help local food and beverage (F&B) companies improve their products by leveraging on UTB’s Centre for Research on Agri-Food Science and Technology (CrAFT), a collaboration marked with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between DARe and UTB’s CrAFT.
The collaboration will see the launch of the Food Development and Innovation for Enterprises (FOODIE), an initiative to help businesses improve their products by addressing issues requiring research and development (R&D).
The MoU signing to officiate the collaboration was held at the Main Auditorium of the Design and Technology building at Anggerek Desa Tech Park in the presence of UTB Vice-Chancellor Datin Paduka Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah binti Haji Sulaiman, as guest of honour.
Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and DARe Acting CEO Daniel Leong said FOODIE “was designed after consultation with many businesses who expressed challenges in expanding due to the lack of technical knowledge in product R&D, as well as high costs associated with the purchase of lab equipment and materials for R&D activities”.
“With the facilities and expertise offered by UTB CrAFT, the initiative will assist in linking industry needs to resource capabilities provided by Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and provide food enterprises with technical solutions in product R&D such as shelf-life extension, alternative packaging materials, use of natural preservatives and assessment of nutritional benefits in food and beverage products, “ added the acting CEO.
Meanwhile, CrAFT Director Dr Syazana Abdullah Lim noted that armed with expertise and facilities at UTB, it is anticipated that the joint collaboration will lead to innovation, which is seen as a useful approach for business growth.
The innovations, she added, include new products and services, processes, and creative ways to interact with customers and furthermore, intense R&D will allow businesses to make decisions backed by science.
“We also hope that F&B companies are open and ready to embrace new technologies such as Internet of Things (loT) to support their long-term growth through the R&D programme.”
Daniel Leong signed on behalf of DARe while UTB Registrar and Secretary Lim Chui Hua represented the university.
Established in 2018, UTB CrAFT was formed as a university-wide research centre to serve as a platform for networking UTB researchers and pooling resources from agri-food organisations, academic and governmental institutions at local and international levels.
Being the first and only research centre focussed on agriculture, food science and nutrition in the Sultanate, CrAFT is committed to searching for solutions through research and industrial challenges in agrifood sectors and to encourage culture of collaboration between members and external stakeholders. FOODIE intends to assist established F&B companies under DARe’s Elevate, a three- to six-month growth programme.
The programme is designed to nurture, facilitate and drive MSME growth through customised assistance and regular monitoring over five years where participants will develop tailored strategic roadmaps, provided with business coaching sessions and mentorships, networking, funding advice and solutions as well as access to other development programmes.
Elevate is set with the objectives in helping MSMEs grow to be more sustainable and resilient, capable of international expansion and collaboration, and contributing significantly to the country’s industrial development which will impact positively to Brunei’s economy.