5 June, SUNWAY CITY KUALA LUMPUR – In conjunction with World Environment Day, Sunway today has announced that it will build a 50,000 sq ft urban farming innovation hub, Sunway FutureX which will be completed in the third quarter of 2020.
Led by Sunway Innovation Labs (Sunway iLabs), Sunway FutureX is the first of its kind in Malaysia, and will serve as a skills-building hub for urban farming professionals, tech companies, researchers and young talents to collaborate and to create transformative solutions focusing on food and agritech. The initiative leads Sunway’s venture into agritech.
Sunway FutureX, located in the heart of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, will have three pillars: FutureX Farm which is an indoor and outdoor smart farming area, FutureX Talent which is a research and development centre, and FutureX Campus, a training and collaborative space which includes a cafe.
“FutureX Farm will focus on the delivery of four key objectives – Nourish, Educate, Empower and Innovate. Bringing together a wide pool of expertise and resources from ecosystem players, Sunway FutureX will aim to create decentralised urban farms to serve local communities, and to address supply chain challenges and distance between farm to fork. We hope to venture build new innovations, which will contribute to improved long term food security and sustainability in our nation,” said Matt Van Leeuwen, Sunway Group Chief Innovation Officer and Sunway iLabs Director.
“One of our first partners will be Sunway Property. We aim to nourish our communities with the fresh produce grown at our farms and educate them about sustainable living and urban farming. We hope to sow the seeds of inspiration and ultimately empower homeowners to grow their own food. This will be a model for Sunway Property to replicate throughout their cities in Malaysia, and allows us to scale up quickly,” he added.
According to reports, Malaysia imports most of its food from countries such as China, India, Thailand, Indonesia and New Zealand, and only has about eight percent of agricultural land for agro-food production. Malaysia’s food import bill has grown significantly over the last two decades and exceeded RM 52 billion in 2018.
Research shows that imported food lose an alarming amount of nutrients during processing, packaging and transportation before it reaches consumers. In addition, traditional farming methods and the existing logistics involved in the supply chain contributes in a big a way to the carbon footprint. With the world experiencing unprecedented challenges amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, the threat to food security has increased.
In urban cities like Klang Valley where land is limited and expensive, Sunway sees the potential of harvesting the power of talent and technology to build urban farms on underutilised spaces such as rooftops, carparks and even within buildings. Recent developments in technology have enabled efficient urban farming techniques that require less water and no pesticides to produce consistent yields, while revitalising under-utilised spaces. In recent years, urban farming has rapidly gained attention in cities all over the world as a feasible instrument in realising food sustainability and sustainable development.
FutureX Farm will also partner with Thought For Food (TFF), a global non-profit organisation dedicated to entrepreneurial innovation for food and agriculture. “We are thrilled to be partnering with FutureX Farm to develop urban farming in Malaysia and across the region. We see many exciting opportunities to collaborate with Sunway iLabs to provide a sandbox for startups from our global TFF innovation platform to carry out pilot projects and test out their solutions to fit the local market needs,” said Christine Gould, Thought For Food’s Chief Executive Officer, who will be partnering with Sunway iLabs to launch various programmes including the TFF Digital ASEAN Lab to engage, empower and accelerate the next generation of purpose-driven food and agritech innovators.
Committed to advancing UNSDG
Sunway is deeply committed to advancing the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and has incorporated these practices in its township development. In line with Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Reproduction, the Group believes that sustainable food production and consumption is crucial in any environment, whether in the outskirts or the city, and must be done responsibly.
Sunway embarked on its journey towards food sustainability last year by repurposing 40 hectares of undeveloped land in Sunway City Ipoh for food and agriculture. Located at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Sunway Organic Gardens produces pesticide-free fruits and vegetables with fresh water from the mountains for its guests, locals who work there and their community.
Sunway Pyramid, Sunway Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and Sunway Hotels also joined forces to introduce the Food CPR – Compost. Plant. Reduce. campaign aimed at tackling the food waste problem in Malaysia. Food waste will be channeled to Sunway Pyramid and Sunway Hotels & Resorts on-site compost machine to be processed into fertiliser. The compost will be free for the public to collect at Sunway Pyramid’s compost collection area at B1 Blue Zone Carpark Lobby.