SIT and AMILI in Partnership to Advance Asian Gut Health R&D
First-of-its-kind made-for-Asia sustainable R&D to develop kale stems as prebiotics; partnership to deepen symbiotic industry-academia collaborations in applied research and talent upskilling
The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), Singapore’s University of Applied Learning, and AMILI Pte Ltd, Southeast Asia’s first precision gut microbiome company, have formalised a three-year partnership on 3 June 2022 to accelerate innovations in human gut microbiome. SIT and AMILI will jointly embark on a series of research and development (R&D) programmes, staff upskilling initiatives, and work attachment opportunities for SIT students.
Commercialising Kale Stems as Prebiotics through First-of-its-Kind R&D Programme
As the human gut microbiome research continues to be an important field to advance human health, researchers from SIT and AMILI have embarked on a research programme to exploit the benefits of leftover farmed vegetables for gut health improvement. The first-of-its-kind applied research programme utilises food waste valorisation through drying and milling methodologies to optimise kale stems as prebiotics that will enhance the growth of probiotics, with a focus on the Asian population. Kale stems, in its powder form, are found to be strong catalysts for the growth of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, both of which are essential intestinal bacteria that aid in the maintenance of a healthy gut system.
SIT will further develop kale stems as a prebiotic to be incorporated into AMILI’s next generation of gut health supplements. Coupled with AMILI’s findings from its fast-growing multi-ethnic microbiome database, the new commercial product will present a competitive edge to existing Western formulations. AMILI’s keen focus in Asian microbiome research and innovation enables the company to develop products and services that are based on comprehensive studies of the gut microbiome and dietary patterns of people living in Asia.
The joint R&D in optimising kale stems as prebiotics is a continuation of SIT’s work in food waste valorisation with home-grown agri-tech company Sustenir, which produces healthy vegetables such as kale, lettuce and spinach. Apart from the optimisation of kale stems as prebiotics, SIT and AMILI will also embark on other applied research initiatives that will contribute to leveraging technology platforms to accelerate the expansion of AMILI’s gut health studies and suite of commercial offerings.
Industry Upskilling and Strengthening Talent Pipeline through Skills-Based Learning
As part of the collaboration, SIT and AMILI will employ a skills-based approach in a symbiotic staff exchange programme that aims to strengthen industry and academia upskilling. SIT academic staff, comprising faculty and Professional Officers, will be closely engaged in AMILI’s product development efforts, while AMILI’s staff will benefit from SIT’s applied research expertise and laboratory contributions. Both SIT and AMILI employees will also co-develop and incorporate topics on gut microbiome in future coursework.
There will also be work attachment opportunities for SIT students across multiple disciplines, including Food Technology, Pharmaceutical Engineering, and Dietetics and Nutrition. Students will gain real-world exposure through practical sessions in applied research and commercial product development.
Said Associate Professor Susanna Leong, Vice President (Applied Research), SIT: “One of SIT’s key applied research focus is sustainable food innovation. We aim to contribute to the growing functional foods and nutraceutical market through sustainable R&D methodologies such as food waste valorisation. We look forward to working with AMILI to develop products that meets the needs of Asian consumers.”
Dr Jeremy Lim, CEO & Co-Founder, AMILI, said: “We are honoured to partner SIT, a university that includes food science and innovation as one of their key areas of focus. As our tagline goes, ‘Good health starts with gut health’, and Asia has many traditional foods and ingredients that are only just being scientifically assessed to demonstrate their health benefits. We believe this partnership will be a key platform to achieve this.”
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