BIOTEC Researchers were awarded Leaders in Innovation Fellowships 2019 (LIF) Programme by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) as part of the Newton Fund

Dr. Wirulda Pootakham, BIOTEC researcher from National Omics Center, and Dr. Ratthaphol Charlermroj, BIOTEC researcher from Microarray Research Team, were granted Leaders in Innovation Fellowships 2019 (LIF) Programme delivered by the Royal Academy of Engineering of United Kingdom through the Newton Fund. LIF works with engineers, academics and researchers from 16 countries across the globe whose innovation could have economic impact in their own countries or other developing nations. In 2019, participants were placed in an intensive two-week entrepreneurship-training course in London, United Kingdom from 14 – 25 January 2019. At the end of session, a final pitch day allowed the participants to showcase their innovations and progress in front of a panel of external judges. 


On the final pitch day, Dr. Pootakham successfully pitched her project on “SNP-it HybridSure,” the DNA-based purity test uses molecular markers to validate the genetic purity of hybrid seeds which won the Best Pitch Award. Hybrid vegetable seeds are produced by crossing two pure varieties to achieve the desired characters. The purity of hybrid seeds is conventionally assayed by conducting “grow-out-trial” involving the germination of the seeds to obtain full-grown plants for a visual assessment of morphological characteristics. This process takes up to 12 months and not very accurate. The DNA-based purity test developed provides a much more rapid (3-6 days) and accurate method for seed purity testing to ensure that only high-quality hybrid seeds are released to the market.

Dr. Ratthaphol pitched his product on “PlantBead kit”—the multiplex detection of plant pathogens using an antibody-based bead array technology. Plant pathogens pose major threats to seed export businesses, especially in Thailand. A conventional screening method based on an immunoassay is costly, time-consuming, and laborious. The newly developed bead array assay based on Luminex xMAP technology offers a solution to detect multiple plant pathogens simultaneously. PlantBead kit was developed using in-house specific antibodies, allowing detection of four plant pathogens with high specificity, sensitivity, and accuracy. This kit aims to be used for export purpose, plant disease quarantine and control. It, therefore, helps reduce spread of plant pathogens and increase credibility of seed of seed industries in Thailand.  

The Leaders in Innovation Fellowships programme aims to build the entrepreneurial capacity and commercialization skills of innovators from selected partner countries, including Thailand. The programme creates international networks of innovators and technology entrepreneurs. LIF participants are jointly selected by the Royal Academy of Engineering of United Kingdom and our in-country partner organizations on the basis of their potential as entrepreneurs, the excellence of their research, the potential of their innovation, and the social and economic benefits of their innovation.


Posted on 28 February 2019