The BioPeTech Malted Cat Litter Produced in Macao — A Project under the CYTC Entrepreneurship Model
Chinese: Alfred Wong Seng Fat, Tang U Meng, Fu Haoming‧Photo: Cheng Yu Tung College‧English Translation: UM Reporter Carina Cheng
As Macao is seizing new opportunities for its moderate economic diversification brought by China’s 14th Five-Year Plan and Vision 2035 plan, as well as the Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, universities in the city are also seeing a more conducive environment for commercialising their research results. When elaborating on the University of Macau’s (UM) development plan for the next five years, Rector Prof Yonghua Song says that the university will continue to improve its ‘3+3+3+3’ research strategy and establish a ‘5-in-1’ system for research innovation and results transfer, finding a path for the commercialisation of research results, as well as actively building a social service platform for Macao. To support the university’s commitment to promoting industry-academia collaboration, UM’s Cheng Yu Tung College (CYTC) has developed a model of student entrepreneurship from its experiences with encouraging students to start their own businesses. Known as the CYTC Entrepreneurship Model, the model will not only establish close partnerships with faculties and industries, but will also bridge the gap between technology and creativity among students in residential colleges (RCs), thus enabling the colleges to play an active role in supporting the university in academia-industry collaboration.
Four Ways to Support Student Start-ups
The CYTC Entrepreneurship Model has come a long way in encouraging CYTC students to launch their own businesses and get their commercial ideas off the ground. As of today, the college has formed five entrepreneurial teams, which have received 16 awards since 2018, with a total of MOP 265,000 and RMB 200,000 in prize money and investment. Many innovative projects have been developed under the model. An outstanding example is a project focusing on the production of eco-friendly malted cat litter under the brand BioPeTech in Macao. The team received support from the college in four areas: 1) community and peer education; 2) yield of innovation; 3) technical support; 4) competition and incubation.
UM Cheng Yu Tung Interim College Master Prof Alfred Wong Seng Fat (3rd from right), Resident Fellow Dr Tang U Meng (3rd from left), and the college’s entrepreneurial team which produces eco-friendly malted cat litter.
Community and Peer Education
Community and peer education is the first step in the CYTC model. The college cultivates entrepreneurship as part of its educational mission, to ignite students’ passion for starting a business and to expand their entrepreneurial vision. As a result of this culture, the team that produced BioPeTech eco-friendly cat litter consists of four CYTC students, namely Tam Pui Si, Tong Man, Fu Haoming, and Wang Cheng Hao. CYTC Interim Master Prof Alfred Wong Seng Fat and Resident Fellow Dr Tang Yu Ming serve as their advisors. The team successfully turned spent grain (brewer’s spent grain, BSG) from a local brewery into eco-friendly, healthy, and quality cat litter. This business idea was inspired by Funny Eye Brewery – 2048, another CYTC business project.
Funny Eye Brewery – 2048 is the only brewery in Macao. Its BSG, which is a by-product of the beer brewing process, has no local commercial use. This waste of resources prompted the student team to find a way to recycle the beer waste into cat litter. The team not only drew on past experiences under the college’s entrepreneurship model, but also forged close ties with each other during various activities in the college. To encourage the students to refine their business ideas, the instructors organised a series of reading sessions, in which the students learned about cat litter production techniques and the current development of the industry. These reading sessions, which attracted over 20 students, resulted in a well-developed business plan.
The student business team turns brewers’ spent grain into cat litter
Yield of Innovation
The main difficulty in starting a new business is getting the concept off the ground. CYTC offered entrepreneurial teams a wide range of support to put their ideas into practice. In addition to providing workspace and material support, the college also mobilises local resources. With the support of the college, the entrepreneurial team carried out numerous experiments and performance tests to develop a prototype. Further testing is underway in partnership with the Society for the Protection of Animals (Macau), commonly known as Anima. The team visited Anima to volunteer and collect feedback and data on the use of cat litter, which is very important for further improving their malted litter product.
An entrepreneurial project must have technological prowess in order to be feasible and successful in the long run. Therefore, the college places great importance on providing and locating technical support for its entrepreneurial teams. The technology used in the malt litter project, namely sugar phagocytic fungus, was developed under the guidance of Tam Kin Yip, associate professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences and non-resident fellow of CYTC. This technology helps to absorb sugar from BSG to prevent kittens from consuming sugar by accident. Through the college, the team has partnered with researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Thanks to the efforts of both parties, the cat litter project has entered a new phase of R&D at the Hong Kong Science Park, which ensures a stable production and development of the fungus, laying a solid foundation for the project’s expansion.
The eco-friendly malted cat litter produced by the entrepreneurial team
Competition and Incubation
Competitions present excellent opportunities for start-ups, particularly those in Macao, to gain initial funding and professional advice. Business incubators also play an irreplaceable role in putting start-ups on the right trajectory for success. This is why CYTC relentlessly supports and guides its student entrepreneurial teams to receive professional training in business incubators and to participate in start-up competitions. This will allow them to develop their business ideas and get closer to the needs of the market.
The cat litter entrepreneurial team began its incubation at the UM Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in November 2021. With the support of the centre’s professors and various local organisations, the team’s business plans have been improving steadily. At the 10th Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Student Entrepreneurship Competition held in Guangzhou, the team competed against more than 100 teams and placed ninth in the final, winning a third prize.
RC Development is a submission column. The views expressed are solely those of the author(s). UM launched its residential college (RC) system in 2010 to create a multicultural and multidisciplinary learning platform for knowledge integration. RC education aims to cultivate seven competencies of students, namely responsible citizenship, global competitiveness, knowledge integration, teamwork and collaboration, service and leadership, cultural engagement, and healthy lifestyle.
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