ASEAN: The New Front Line in Asia

On the heels of the US-ASEAN summit in Myanmar, manufacturers are considering ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to be a much closer horizon for business opportunities compared to other economic goliaths in the region.

In fact, the ASEAN-5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) has been attracting more businesses than China, with about $128 billion in foreign direct investments, overtaking that of China’s $117 billion in 2013.

This year’s plans for economic integration throughout ASEAN should further grow the strategic importance of the 10-member collective as it will further open up trade, make commerce across the region more seamless, and come closer to being a single market of more than 600 million people.

While market entry into Asia is not without significant challenges, multinational companies have found that they can adapt their business strategies to Asia’s complex and diverse business landscape by investing in local hubs. This recognition comes at a critical juncture, when higher wages and currency appreciation in China are prompting companies to look elsewhere. ASEAN stands to benefit from this, with each nation offering a unique value proposition be it advanced technological innovation, an abundant labor force, or a growing shift towards more high-skilled industries.

Singapore

For example, Singapore,  is a strategic entry-point for companies to better access pan-Asian growth markets. The city-state boasts numerous resources valuable to MNCs such as a business friendly environment, highly-skilled labor force, well-established financial markets and infrastructure that support them, opportunities to test bed new products for the region and a predominantly English-speaking population. As a result, Singapore serves as a high tech manufacturing hub which also ranks first for foreign subsidiary density and fifth in the world for corporate headquarters.

As a base for knowledge, partners, and talent, Singapore enables companies to access increasingly critical markets like Indonesia and Vietnam, where revenues are growing. A recent example is General Motors, which moved its international headquarters from Shanghai to Singapore in August of last year for easier access to the company’s priority markets like ASEAN, Africa and Australia.

Along a similar vein, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is also centralizing the coordination of its Asia Pacific activities. The American agricultural processing company announced in June 2014 that it will be relocating it regional headquarters from Shanghai to Singapore. This is testimony that many corporations are seeing that their business strategies for Asia can no longer focus on just the region’s largest markets, and are moving their headquarters to Singapore as a gateway to the growing ASEAN customer base.

Malaysia

ASEAN is also home to Malaysia, a country which has been encouraging its universities to invest in R&D centers and partnering with private sector companies to create more high-skilled jobs. These initiatives have yielded significant results. Malaysia is a particularly attractive investment destination for companies looking to capitalize on the lower cost of electricity in developing manufacturing sectors like solar energy. The country plays home to six First Solar plants, which collectively produce more than 80% of the American company’s solar panels. The Southeast Asian nation is currently ranked the world’s third-largest producer of solar equipment; companies including Panasonic, SunEdison and SunPower have also set up shop in the country.

The Philippines

The Philippines is another increasingly attractive business hub with a GDP growth of 7.2% –second only to China’s 7.7% in 2013.  An important component of the country’s growing economy is the information technology sector, which contributed to 6% of the GDP last year, or $16 billion. With multinational companies entrusting their customer services to the Philippines, the sector aims to increase annual revenues to $25 billion by 2016. Increasing investment in the region from high-tech companies is likely the reason for this confidence; Accenture, for example, is capitalizing on local talent by establishing business process outsourcing operations in rural regions like Tanjay.

Additionally, the Philippines is uniquely insulated from international market fluctuations due to the number of allowances it receives from citizens living abroad. With the economy more resilient to shifting global economic conditions, heavyweights including JP Morgan and Procter & Gamble have recently taken advantage of the stability the Philippines offers by expanding their operations in the region.

While each nation offers a unique investment proposition, it is important to note that a one-size-fits-all strategy towards the region is unrealistic. There are wide gaps between the economic development stages and political landscapes of different nations. For example, Indonesia represents almost 40% of the region’s economic output and is a member of the G20, while Myanmar is still an emerging market working to build its institutions after a period of isolation from the global community.

Investors need to be aware of local preferences and cultural sensitivities when looking at ASEAN as a business opportunity.

Source: http://www.industryweek.com/expansion-management/asean-new-front-line-asia

 

Waiver on Patent Fee to Boost Indonesian Innovation

Jakarta. Indonesia plans to waive all fees for filing of patent and copyright applications, as part of efforts to encourage greater domestic innovation and boost the country’s competitiveness.

Muhammad Nasir, the minister for research, technology and higher education, said on Tuesday that researchers and inventors had been discouraged from registering their innovations with the government because of the high cost of filing a patent application.

“Inventors have had to pay a lot for the intellectual property rights to their innovations, even as those products have yet to generate [money],” Nasir said during a visit to the Jakarta Globe newsroom in South Jakarta “How can we expect to drive more innovation under such conditions?”

Nasir said he wanted to get the private sector more involved in research and technology development and applications, identifying a lack of funding for research and development for Indonesia’s dearth of technological innovations.

Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir holds the ‘Indonesia 106 Innovations’ book during a media visit to the offices of BeritaSatu Media Holdings in Jakarta on Jan. 6, 2015. 

He said research funding in Indonesia, mostly from the government, currently amounted to Rp 8 trillion ($631 million) a year, or 0.09 percent of gross domestic product — far lower than in more competitive economies such as Singapore (2.6 percent), Malaysia (1 percent) and Thailand (0.25 percent).

Nasir said he wanted annual R&D spending in Indonesia to amount to at least 0.5 percent of GDP by 2019.

“We need research to support our efforts to improve our nation’s competitiveness, otherwise it will be hard to realize,” the minister said “In the future, I want our higher education sector to conduct research based on orders, not on opportunities. It’s much more efficient to conduct research based on commissions from the private sector.”

He noted that four-fifths of all research funding in Singapore came from the private sector, while in Indonesia it was just one-quarter.

“That’s because the research being done isn’t relevant to the private sector’s needs. But when we look at other countries, like the United States, the universities there serve as research centers for businesses,” Nasir said.

“We’ll study ways to draw business interest in university research. And we must build close connections between researchers and the private sector.”

Nasir said Indonesia needed to immediately boost its competitiveness in the face of the Asean Economic Community framework that kicks in this year.

Adopted by the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the framework is expected to spur regional growth through improved connectivity and more integrated and liberal trade and economic activities.

“We have a short-term task to improve the competitiveness of this nation,” Nasir said. “Only with high competitiveness can we compete in the Asean Economic Community.”

Source: http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/waiver-patent-fee-boost-indonesian-innovation/

 

Foreign firms eyeing hi-tech, value-added industries in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: High technology and value-added companies are the areas that foreign companies mostly seek to invest in Malaysia, management consulting firm Crewstone International Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Wira Jalilah Baba (pix) said.

"But of course, Malaysia is still accepting and assisting foreign companies in other sectors like green technology … besides manufacturing, we also encourage (foreign companies) to go into research and development (R&D), design engineering, not many companies will come in a big way for those areas.

"We help companies to grow in Malaysia and globally, for foreign companies to make a footing in Malaysia, reach out the Southeast Asian countries through their headquarters in Malaysia," she told SunBiz in a recent interview.

Jalilah was the former director-general and CEO of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida).

Crewstone specialises in identifying potential high-value opportunities for its clients in addressing their specific business and organizational needs.

A proponent of venture capital to grow local companies, Jalilah said local companies are quite reluctant in divesting with their equity when looking to expand and would rather take on borrowings to do so.

She said this tied in with business owners reluctance to forgo control in their companies.

Jalilah expressed her own dissatisfaction over the attitude of Malaysian businesses in wanting to retain full management control even after bringing in private equity partners.

"Sometimes they think when they do equity funding, they can do whatever they like. (This is not the case) because when venture capitalists come in, ( they will want some say in the operations and rules and regulations of the company, as they have invested money), so you're not that free anymore.

"The bigger stake they (venture capital) have, they will have more say, but with the intention to make the project successful, and you'll (businesses will) feel the crunch of being controlled," she said.

Jalilah opined that businesses should open up their doors to venture capital as without proper funding, companies can not grow further, especially for SMEs.

"(Especially when going abroad), the cost is more. First you need to do feasibility study to introduce your product and services in the markets; you need to set up your supply chain overseas…as long as financiers see this as a niche market and you do have a good product and services, they'll come in because they normally will sit down with the clients and work out return on investment (ROI), so that there is not too long a gestation period," she noted.

For ROI, Jalilah opined that 10% to 15% would be "good enough" for a starter, but should aim higher moving forward.

Meanwhile, she said she is proud of getting foreign investors to choose Malaysia as their investment country of choice and expand into Southeast Asia through Malaysia.

"I consider this as my contribution to the country, when I was in MIDA, I was the chief negotiator for high-impact projects to convince them Malaysia is the best location for their footing in Southeast Asia.

"I was working for the government to publicise Malaysia, (now) I'm still doing the same thing, but with more satisfaction now…I do it for free and out of my own passion for the country because I do believe that Malaysia is still the best place to locate investment," she added.

 

Source: http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1283895

APEC Launches New Platform

Trade, economic and health officials from APEC economies have launched a ground-breaking new platform to support greater commercialization of innovative biomedical research originated in the Asia-Pacific, heralding the arrival of more cutting-edge treatments that improve public health and boost trade and economic growth.

The opening of the first-of-its-kind APEC Biomedical Technology Commercialization Training Center in Seoul follows two years of public-private sector consultations. Initiated by Korea and Thailand, the Center will build the capacity of policymakers, practitioners and businesses to move new biomedical technologies onto the market as emerging economies in the region play a more active role in research and development.

“Biomedical research is increasing all around the Asia-Pacific and ushering in important health breakthroughs but backend business processes are far less developed,” said Dr Kee-Taig Jung, President of the government-owned Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), the Center’s coordinating body. “Without strong interface between R&D, policy and commercial interests, it becomes very difficult to bring innovations to the people who stand to benefit from them.”

“Enormous resources are going into the pursuit of new biomedical discoveries which must ultimately come with a return on investment—for scientists and the public and private sector entities that support and market their work,” added Dr Nares Damrongchai, CEO of the Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS), which is also government-backed and will support training and implementation of the APEC Center’s recommendations in Southeast Asia.

The Center will foster the adoption of translational research, or that which is engineered to ensure findings can be used for practical applications that enhance public health. Additional focus will be on strengthening intellectual property management and business development, including strategy, valuation and marketing. The Center will serve as a platform for promoting policies conducive to commercialization in the medical life sciences sector. A pilot training program is now underway. The Center is expected to commence operations in earnest in 2015.

The Association of University Technology Managers, a US-based non-profit that promotes technology transfer globally, will provide content and training. Trade, economic and health officials from each of the 21 APEC member economies, under the auspices of the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum, will guide the Center’s strategic decision-making.

“Lifting barriers to the delivery of new health innovations is not just a moral imperative, it also makes good economic sense,” concluded Dr Ryan MacFarlane, Planning Group Chair of the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum. “By facilitating the conversion of sound biomedical research into treatments that people can actually use, you seed healthier, more productive labor forces, trade within the sector and growth that ultimately becomes self-sustaining.”

The Center’s development will be on the agenda when the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum meets in conjunction with the first APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting and related technical meetings on 26 January-7 February 2015 in Clark, the Philippines.

Source: http://news.pngfacts.com/2015/01/apec-launches-new-platform.html

Create a Competitive Indonesia Through Increased Funding for R&D

Jakarta. Muhammad Nasir, the new minister for tertiary education and research and technology, says he wants Indonesia to become a world-class player in the fields of science and academic research.

Nasir, who was one of 34 ministers named to President Joko Widodo’s cabinet on Sunday, said on Monday that Indonesia’s research and higher education sectors “must definitely be improved” to support the country’s industry and innovation sectors.

The sentiment has been welcomed by Indonesia’s science community, which has struggled with relatively low government funding for research and development.

Nasir, the rector of Diponegoro University in Semarang, Central Java, said he would start working on his plans after the inaugural cabinet meeting, which was held on Monday afternoon.

“The blueprint [for the ministry] is ready, but I still need to wait for the president’s directive at the cabinet meeting for further details,” he said ahead of the meeting at the State Palace in Central Jakarta.

Indonesian government spending on research and development this year amounted to Rp 8 trillion ($662 million), or around half a percent of the total Rp 1,600 trillion state budget, which is nowhere near sufficient to support a strong and productive scientific community in the country, according to Pariatmono, the deputy for science and technology empowerment at the then-Research and Technology Ministry in June.

Data from the World Bank showed that Indonesia spent the equivalent of 0.08 percent of its gross domestic product on research and development in 2009. Meanwhile, Malaysia and Singapore spent 1.01 percent and 2.43 respectively in the same period.

From 2001 to 2010, Indonesian scientists produced less than 8,000 articles in various international publications, far fewer than Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, with each producing around 30,000.

Idwan Suhardi, an adviser at the ministry, said previously that Indonesia needed to be “innovative and creative” if it wanted to be a regional and world power over the long term.

“Ideally, government spending on R&D should be 3.5 percent of the country’s GDP. And because our government’s budget is not adequate enough, the remainder could come from the private sector,” he said.

Ridwan Djamalludin, deputy head of natural resources technology development at the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), agreed that funding technological innovation was also the task of the private sector.

Source: http://thejakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/indonesia-needs-world-class-rd-new-minister/

The value of Indonesia’s pharmaceutical market is expected to almost double by 2020

Driven by increased government healthcare spending and growing life expectancy, the Indonesian pharmaceutical market value will climb from approximately $5 billion in 2013 to $9.9 billion by 2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.2%, according to the research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The rapid growth is due to the introduction of government healthcare reimbursement programs, such as Jamkesmas and the Family Hope Program. Their aim is to provide health insurance to all Indonesians by 2019.

In May this year, the government also eased some foreign investment regulations, including pharmaceuticals.

“Patented drugs account for the majority of the Indonesian pharmaceutical market,” said Joshua Owide, GlobalData’s director of healthcare industry dynamics. “Therapeutic segments, such as infectious and respiratory diseases, are expected to grow significantly in the future, thanks to the increasing incidence of certain communicable diseases,” he added.

“The generic market is also undergoing rapid expansion, boosted by government incentives and the loss of patent protection for several high-selling products. The over-the-counter drug sector reached a 48% share of the pharma market in 2013.”

Demographics also play an increasingly supportive role. “Indonesia has a young population and is quickly urbanising, powering growth in incomes,” a recent report from McKinsey’s Global Institute said. Between now and 2030, Indonesia will be home to an estimated 90 million additional consumers with considerable spending power, the report noted.

Still, the outlook is not entirely bright. The increasing use of generics, coupled with counterfeit medicines, could slow down the Indonesian pharmaceutical industry expansion, Global Data stressed.

The country’s regulatory system for intellectual property (IP) enforcement is problematic on a number of levels, due to inadequate observation and enforcement, and the lack of an effective customs system to discourage infringement of IP rights, opening up “major loopholes”, Owide said. “Infringement is common, but only minor charges are imposed in practise.”

Source: http://focus-asean.com/pharmaceuticals-indonesia-boom-focus-asean/

The First Electromagnetic Capability-Testing Lab Launched

JOHOR BARU: The first electromagnetic capability-testing laboratory located within a higher education institution has been launched at the University Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

The RM3mil facility, which would be utilised to conduct tests on medical devices before being sold in the market, is part of UTM’s Faculty of Bioscience and Medical Engineering in Skudai.

The faculty’s dean Prof Dr Jasmy Yunus said that the facility enables UTM to play an important role in Malaysia to improve the safety of medical device and equipment users and patients.

He added that the laboratory will also be used to conduct teaching and research in the area of electromagnetic such as electromagnetic waves on mobile phones and medical devices.

The university welcomes companies and medical equipment suppliers to send their products to the laboratory for testing, as it will cut down costs significantly as compared to sending them for similar tests overseas.

“For example, a charging device for heart patients could cost hundreds of thousands of ringgit per device if sent overseas for testing,” he said during a press conference after the launch of the facility on Monday.

He said that the facility was also the university’s effort to support the government in the implementation of the Medical Device Regulations 2012, which came into effect in July, 2013.

Under the regulation, companies dealing with selling, importing and distributing medical device are required to register with the Medical Device Authority (MDA) under the Health Ministry to continue doing their business.

Prof Jasmy said the laboratory could provide a supporting role in testing the products so that the company could have supporting documents when seeking accreditation from MDA.

He said the facility, the third one in the country after two commercial ones, was built by a United Kingdom-based company, has been tested by a company from the United States.

The laboratory was lined with cones and materials to block out electromagnetic waves to prevent interference from outside the laboratory when conducting tests and has a joint control room to overlook the testing process.

 

Source: http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Community/2014/12/17/The-first-electromagnetic-capabilitytesting-lab-launched/

Sarawak chemists can sit for LMIC here from 2015

KUCHING: Chemists in Sarawak wishing to be registered with the Malaysian Institute of Chemistry (IKM) no longer need to travel to Kuala Lumpur anymore to sit for the Malaysia Institute Chemistry Licentiate (LMIC) course.

 

This is because IKM Sarawak branch will be holding the LMIC course starting May next year at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) campus.

 

IKM Sarawak branch chairman Dr Alvin Chai Lian Kuet said this course, in collaboration with IKM headquarters is opened to all non-chemist graduates and senior laboratory assistants who wish to become an IKM registered chemist.

 

“There is a need to conduct the course here in Sarawak as there are many senior laboratory assistants and professionals (engineers, biotechnologists, forensic scientists) who are non-registered chemists working in the chemical laboratories.

 

“They need the LMIC membership in order to sign the chemical test reports. This is the requirement under the Chemist Act 1975.

 

“All this while, this four-month course has been conducted in Kuala Lumpur. Participants from Sarawak need to travel to Kuala Lumpur during weekends to attend this course. This has caused financial burdens to the participants and organisations which have sponsored them,” he said.

 

He added the LMIC course in Kuching will be conducted by a team of experienced Unimas lecturers over the weekends. “The course will start in May and ends in August. IKM Sarawak will send out flyers to members and organisations in January 2015,” he said again.

 

Dr Chai also reminded chemists interested to join IKM to contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or Hazalinawati at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Haneefa Aniza Hassan (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).

 

On another matter, Dr Chai said IKM Sarawak had recently organised Chemistry Night 2014 at a leading hotel here which was officiated by IKM president Datuk Dr Ong Eng Long. Newly registered IKM chemists in 2013 and 2014 were also invited to the dinner.

 

The highlight of the event was the presentation of Chemistry Excellence Awards and prize money to students who have excelled in Chemistry in 2013 at SPM, STPM, Bachelor Degree and Master Degree levels.

 

Leading the award recipients was Dayang Nurul Qhalila Baling from Unimas who won RM400 for her master thesis on ‘Biochars from sago effluent and the applications’.

 

Dr Chai also announced that in 2015, IKM Sarawak plans to have two new activities including to sponsor four identified needy students at the ‘D’Wira Child Care Centre until they finish their secondary education.



Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/12/14/sarawak-chemists-can-sit-for-lmic-here-from-2015/#ixzz3M1WIjZaW

Malaysia Aims To Be Among Top 10 In Global Competitiveness and Global Innovation Index

KUALA LUMPUR-- Malaysia needs to aim to be one of the top 10 countries in the global competitiveness index and global innovation index.
 
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it was possible to achieve this following the implementation of the Science-to-Action and the National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation 2013-2020 initiative.
 
"The policy is overseen by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry," he said in his speech at the Conferment of Fellowship of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia and Top Research Scientists Malaysia 2014 announcement, here, Monday night.
 
Also present were the prime minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin and Academy of Sciences Malaysia president Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali.
 
At the ceremony, Najib was conferred the Honorary Fellowship of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia 2014 in recognition of his strong advocacy in science and technology as the epicentre of the economic transformation programme.
 
A total of 34 scientists was announced as the 2014 Top Research Scientists Malaysia, as well as 21 new fellows and two senior fellows.
 
Najib said the Science-to-Action (S2A) initiative launched in November last year was aimed at intensifying the application of science and technology for industrial development and the people's well-being.
 
The S2A iniatiative has three components - science to industry, science to well-being and science to governance.
 
Therefore, the government would continue to assist Malaysian science researchers, whether in the government research institutes and the public universities, in realising the targets set, Najib said.
 
"Today, the world and Malaysia are impacted by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, such as ebola and dengue, global warming, landslides and many more.
 
"With all these calamities, I call on the scientific community via the Academy of Sciences Malaysia to lead studies on the issues and making analyses and scientific facts in finding lasting solutions grounded in science and technology," he said.
 
Najib also called on the scientific community to lead studies on issues such as water, food, and haze and provide inputs to the government on the strategies and measures needed in mitigating risks.
 
The prime minister hoped the Academy of Sciences Malaysia continues its excellent record of delivering its objectives and working closely with the government towards building a better nation and brighter future for all Malaysians.
 
Under the Conferment of Fellowship, a Senior Fellow appointed is entitled to be addressed as "Academician" while Fellows are entitled to use the title of Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (FASc).
 
These distinguished individuals are selected through a stringent selection process based on their exceptional work, commitment, passion and creativity in science, technology and industry.
 

Source: http://www.malaysiandigest.com/frontpage/29-4-tile/531746-malaysia-aims-to-be-among-top-10-in-global-competitiveness-najib.html

Singapore Scientists Uncover Gene Associated with Aggressive Breast Cancer

SINGAPORE: Scientists at Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*STAR) Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), in collaboration with local clinicians and colleagues in the USA, have identified a biomarker strongly associated with the aggressive triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).

This newly identified biomarker provides a target for developing new therapeutics designed to treat the often deadly disease. TNBC is deadlier compared to other types of breast cancer because TNBC tumours do not respond to targeted therapy.

Molecular biologist Dr Feng Min and her colleagues at the GIS used breast cancer cell lines and genomic data from patient samples and found that patients with a high expression of the RASAL2 gene possessed a poorer survival rate compared to those who had lower levels of RASAL2 in their tumours.

“We show here that RASAL2 actually acts as a cancer promoting molecule in TNBC,” said Professor Yu Qiang, project leader of the study.

The study is the result of intensive collaboration with both local and international colleagues. Prof Yu said that he is seeking “industrial collaboration” for diagnostic assays for high-risk TNBC patients and reiterated the need for further clinical validation of the study.

“With a better understanding of the genetic makeup of tumours, it is now recognised that breast cancer comprises a diverse mix of tumours. This explains why not everyone with tumours of the same disease stage responds the same way to similar treatment,” said Dr Tan Ern Yu from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, who was also involved in the study.

The identification of RASAL2 now provides a target for scientists to develop new therapeutics to treat the disease.

GIS’ executive director, Professor Ng Huck Hui, said that the study was done as part of their efforts at creating “an ecosystem to allow close collaborations between researchers and clinicians”.

“Because the laboratory findings do not always replicate the ‘real world’ of human tumours, validation with samples derived from actual human tumours remains the ‘final proof’ of whether novel laboratory findings can be applied to clinical practice,” added Prof Ng.

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-scientists/1503642.html

Researchers develop efficient method to produce nanoporous metals

Nanoporous metals—foam-like materials that have some degree of air vacuum in their structure—have a wide range of applications because of their superior qualities.

They posses a high surface area for better electron transfer, which can lead to the improved performance of an electrode in an electric double capacitor or battery. Nanoporous metals offer an increased number of available sites for the adsorption of analytes, a highly desirable feature for sensors.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) researchers have developed a cost-effective and more efficient way to manufacture nanoporous metals over many scales, from nanoscale to macroscale, which is visible to the naked eye.

The process begins with a four-inch silicon wafer. A coating of metal is added and sputtered across the wafer. Gold, silver and aluminum were used for this research project. However, the manufacturing process is not limited to these metals.

Next, a mixture of two polymers is added to the metal substrate to create patterns, a process known as diblock copolymer lithography (BCP). The pattern is transformed in a single polymer mask with nanometer-size features. Last, a technique known as anisotropic ion beam milling (IBM) is used to etch through the mask to make an array of holes, creating the nanoporous metal.

During the fabrication process, the roughness of the metal is continuously examined to ensure that the finished product has good porosity, which is key to creating the unique properties that make nanoporous materials work. The rougher the metal is, the less evenly porous it becomes.

“During fabrication, our team achieved 92% pore coverage with 99% uniformity over a 4-in silicon wafer, which means the metal was smooth and evenly porous,” said Tiziana Bond, an LLNL engineer who is a member of the joint research team.

The team has defined a metric—based on a parametrized correlation between BCP pore coverage and metal surface roughness—by which the fabrication of nanoporous metals should be stopped when uneven porosity is the known outcome, saving processing time and costs.

“The real breakthrough is that we created a new technique to manufacture nanoporous metals that is cheap and can be done over many scales avoiding the lift-off technique to remove metals, with real-time quality control,” Bond said. “These metals open the application space to areas such as energy harvesting, sensing and electrochemical studies.”

The lift-off technique is a method of patterning target materials on the surface of a substrate by using a sacrificial material. One of the biggest problems with this technique is that the metal layer cannot be peeled off uniformly (or at all) at the nanoscale.

Other applications of nanoporous metals include supporting the development of new metamaterials (engineered materials) for radiation-enhanced filtering and manipulation, including deep ultraviolet light. These applications are possible because nanoporous materials facilitate anomalous enhancement of transmitted (or reflected) light through the tunneling of surface plasmons, a feature widely usable by light-emitting devices, plasmonic lithography, refractive-index-based sensing and all-optical switching.

Source: http://www.rdmag.com/news/2014/11/researchers-develop-efficient-method-produce-nanoporous-metals

MIDA Teams Up With UNMC To Further Promote Investments In R&D

The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) has partnered with Nottingham MyResearch Sdn Bhd to organise an outreach programme to further promote the importance of investing in research and development (R&D).

Nottingham MyResearch is R&D status company approved by MIDA and is a fully-owned subsidiary of The University of Nottingham in Malaysia (UNMC).

In a statement Wednesday, MIDA said as the government's principal agency to spearhead the national investment agenda, it has been promoting investments in R&D spending for many years.

Its Second Deputy Chief Executive, N. Rajendran said MIDA wanted to develop strong R&D linkages between the industry and tertiary and research institutions by encouraging and nurturing partnership.

He said such collaborations would lead to higher research value integration that would be translated into commercialisation and drive the growth of companies and the country.

Rajendran said MIDA's R&D incentives programmes could be enjoyed by any investors who want to set up research as a service or have an R&D office within the company.

To date, MIDA said it has approved 150 R&D projects comprising 68 Contract R&D, 44 in-house R&D and 26 R&D companies with total investments of RM2.21 billion and expected to create about 5,000 employment opportunities.

These projects were mainly in healthcare, biofuel, machinery, electrical and electronics, automotive, mining, energy, medical devices, palm oil, agriculture and food production industries, it added.

Meanwhile, Vice Provost at UNMC and Chief Executive Officer of MyResearch, Professor Graham Kendall said the company provided a tax efficient way for companies to invest in R&D.

"We have world experts in many areas, and companies are able to benefit from our expertise and knowledge," he said.

Source : http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v7/bu/newsbusiness.php?id=1067664