Creating Value from the Forgotten
Malaysian Scientist wins Malaysia ASPIRE Prize with novel system for biomolecule recovery

Ir Ts Dr Show Pau-Loke represented Malaysia in the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research, and Education (ASPIRE) 2020 competition with his innovative product that can help with a smarter and optimal utilisation of raw resources while enhancing the local bioprocessing industry.

The ASPIRE award is an annual initiative by APEC to recognise young scientists who have demonstrated a commitment to both excellence in scientific research, as shown by their scholarly publication and cooperation with scientists from other APEC member economies. For the 2020 edition, the theme is “Biodiversity for a Prosperous Economy” and the judging panel will focus on the scientists’ contributions to biodiversity for prosperous economies across the APEC region by spurring research that contributes to local livelihoods, traditional and modern medicines, and economic development.

Akademi Sains Malaysia president, Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail said that Dr Show had stood out from his peers as a result of his track record in the area and for the impact that his model would have on the industry and the country.

“His invention will allow for Malaysia to better manage the issue of food waste in the country, for example. The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry estimates that Malaysia produces 3,000 tonnes of edible food wastage per day.

“We can start to tackle this head on with innovative solutions like this from our researchers so we can smarter manage this issue,” she said, after presenting Dr Show with a cheque for RM2,500 for being the Malaysia ASPIRE Prize winner.

Dr Show; who hails from Ipoh, Perak; has long aspired to create a system that would be sustainable and cost effective while also impacting the community.

“I am very honoured to receive this recognition and I am grateful to my research team for their continuous support and development of this system.

“I started down this path about a decade ago as I was interested in improving the bioprocessing model and looking for new methods that can solve the problems faced by industry, especially food loss and food waste.

“This system, the novel bioproduct recovery system called the Liquid Biphasic Flotation (LBF), will allow for a rapid, simple and effective process for the recovery of biomolecules from plant sources.

“In the case of fruits; while the fruit may be used to develop a food item, the peel may be discarded. The LBF will extract nutrients from the peel and turn them into supplements for consumption by the community. This will bring benefit and value to the whole food product, rather than have the most valuable part discarded.

“I intend to continue optimising the process and finding the best way to obtain the highest yield and separation efficiency as well as better technology for the society. I hope to encourage the F&B, pharmaceutical and other industries to adapt this technology to produce affordable supplements which can help the community, especially those in the B40 group, to stay healthy, improve their livelihood and utilise this system to develop superfoods,” said the 34 year old.

The LBF is an efficient, eco-friendly, economically sustainable approach to biomolecule separation as it combines the separation of the nutrient compounds with methods like bubbling or sonication, that can enable the recovery of up to 99% of the desired products. LBF is eco-friendly as the chemicals used can be recycled several times, reducing the total waste generated from the process. The rapid and simple operation, with recycle potential, will lead to a lower operating cost.

This is especially beneficial to small and medium enterprises in the bioproducts market, as they can utilise this simple-to-operate, easy-to-scale-up and cost-effective system to become more competitive in bringing high quality bioproducts such as nutritional supplements to the market.