Two students from the University of Malaya (UM) were part of a team that represented Malaysia and won the Gold Medal in the Science, Technology & Innovation category at the 1st International Nanotechnology Olympiad (INO) 2018. INO 2018 is a competition where university students propose nanotechnology-based solutions to resolve global challenges. The competition was held from 10 to 15 April 2018 in Pardis Technology Park, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran. The students from UM are: Joshua Soo Zheyan, Master’s candidate from the Nanotechnology & Catalysis Research Centre (NANOCAT), and Muhammad Sollehin Idris, undergraduate from the Faculty of Science.
INO 2018 was organised by the Asia Nano Forum (ANF) and implemented by Iran as the INO Permanent Secretariat via the Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC). The theme of this competition is on nanotechnology solutions for ‘Water and Wastewater Treatment’. The Malaysian team proposed a solution titled ‘Nano-Palm Frond Titania Fiber’ (Nano-PFTF) for Industrial Waste Water Treatment’. This solution introduces a ‘waste-to-wealth’ concept by utilizing cellulose acetate extracted from oil palm fronds, together with titanium dioxide (TiO2) to obtain a nanofiber membrane.
Coordination of the Malaysian team was carried out by the National Nanotechnology Centre (NNC), under the Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation (MOSTI). Besides Joshua Soo and Muhammad Sollehin, the other team members were Ho Kah Chun from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Rabiatul Adawiyah Zayadi from Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM). The Malaysian delegation was lead by Mr. Ismarul Nizam Ismail from NNC. Two technical officers, Dr. Abdul Mutalib Mohd Jani from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Khamirul Amin Matori from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) joined the delegation as technical judges for INO.
Prior to the event, the team selection was done during the Olympiad Nanoteknologi Malaysia (ONM) competition that was held in Technology Park Malaysia on October 2017. Prior to the competition, the team conducted prototype development and material characterizations in public research laboratories in UM, UKM and UPM as well as private research facilities in Hi-Tech Instruments, Progene Link Sdn. Bhd. and CREST Nanosolutions. The team also collaborated with NanoMalaysia Berhad for prototype commercialization activities.
A total of nine teams participated in INO 2018: European Union (3 teams), Russia (1 team), Iran (2 teams), South Korea (1 team), Taiwan (1 team) and Malaysia (1 team). The competition consisted of two pitching sessions, one on the scientific & technical development and the other on the business aspect of the proposed solution.
Throughout the 6-day programme, a series of workshops and visits were arranged for the participants, which included talks by professors and industry CEOs on nanomaterial environmental safety regulations, business plan development, pitch coaching as well as intellectual property licensing. The programme also included a mixed team challenge where teams from different nationalities were tasked to propose a brief solution using nanotechnology to address air pollution issues. The participants were also brought to sightseeing visits around the Pardis Technology Park as well as around the city of Tehran.
Apart from Malaysia, South Korea and Iran (Team 1) won for the Concept Novelty and Business & Impact categories respectively. Taiwan emerged as overall champions for INO 2018.
Photo credit: Kementerian Sains, Teknologi dan Inovasi (MOSTI) Facebook account