By Kuah Guan Oo
Pic by Marina Ismail & Noor Azreen Awang
SERDANG, 17 Sept (UPM) – Three Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) engineering students have emerged runner-up in a contest on the re-use of pollination bags of a British company and were given the opportunity to develop a business plan for the new products to be financed by the company.
The trio of Goh Han Lin, 21, of Kuching, Woon Xian Yang, 23, of Kluang and Teh Jun Xiong, 23, of Penang, all final-year mechanical engineering students, came to know about the competition on how to re-use the pollination bags of PBS International, a UK company, from their lecturer-supervisor, Dr Norkhairunnisa Mazlan, a senior lecturer/researcher with the Department of Aerospace Engineering of the Engineering Faculty of UPM.
Their proposal of re-using the pollination bags as a potting bags for plants made them one of the two runners-up of the competition that was won by a student of Loughborough University (UK) who had proposed using the PBS bags as roofing materials for the less fortunate people living in shanty towns.
According to the PBS website, the other runner-up is a student of the National University of Singapore who had proposed re-using the bags as vermicomposting bags for the composting of waste using worms.
PBS which says in its website that they are a specialist in pollination bags made from their specially-developed materials called duraweb said that they received entries for the competition from over 20 universities across the world with entries from the UK, France, Singapore and Malaysia.
The UPM students had received their prize of 500 pounds and are waiting for their certificates.
They said they had hit upon the idea of re-using the bags as a potting bag from their discussion as it was a more practical approach to re-use the bags.
Because the pollination bags were not available in Malaysia, PBS had to mail them the sample, in time for them to experiment and test the bags before submitting their proposal before the 31st May deadline.
In their entry, they had demonstrated how the used pollination bags could be cleaned up and re-used as a potting bag, estimating the final product to cost over 1 pound each.
But as they worked on their business plan upon the invitation of PBS International, they said that the price has yet to be set, that is, not until they had completed their business proposal.PBS had offered to fund their business proposal if the company finds it a good venture
Dr Norkhairunnisa, a specialist in nanotechnology who is proud of her students’ achievement, said it is good for the students to start learning how to make business plan and proposal.
“The company did not push us to do the business plan with them, it was just an idea whether we want to collaborate with them.
“As for me, I give freedom to the students whether they want to proceed or not,” she said, adding that she might ask for help from the Putra Science Park, the university’s agency in charge of commercialising UPM’s products and services. – UPM