Press Release

First CH Biotech Innovation Award Gives Record Scholarship in Taiwan's Agritech


CH Biotech (TWSE: 6534), in collaboration with National Taiwan University’s College of BioResources and Agriculture (CBA), held the first CH Biotech Innovation Award Ceremony today. Ru-ying Fang, of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, won the top prize of NT$200,000 for her research on the pathogenic mechanism of Citrus exocortis viroid (CEVd). It is the largest ever award to an individual student in Taiwan’s agricultural biotechnology area.
 
In the nearly six years since its inception, CH Biotech has committed itself to the drive for innovation. In July 2018 the company invested NT$2 billion in building a world-class global research and development center, a record for a private agritech firm in Taiwan. Over half of its workforce is employed in its R&D department, which comprises Taiwan-trained, internationally savvy experts holding PhD or master’s degrees. Its teams seek to develop unique and innovative agricultural chemicals while the company continues to expand its reach into overseas markets, including the US, Canada, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, and Australia.
 
CH Biotech prides itself on being an R&D-oriented company, and is a champion of innovation in Taiwan’s academic circles. Earlier this year it held the first CH Biotech Innovation Award in collaboration with the CBA, with the goal of fostering agritech innovation and inspiring new ideas to address issues facing agriculture today.
 
The CH Biotech Innovation Award has six prizes (Gold, Silver, and Bronze, plus three honorable mentions), with total prize money of NT$500,000 (see below). The top scholarship of NT$200,000 broke the record for an individual student in Taiwan’s agricultural biotechnology area.
 

Award Winner Prize (NT$)
Gold Ru-ying Fang
3rd-year graduate student in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
NT$ 200,000
Silver Dan Jeric A. Rustia
3rd-year PhD student in the Department of Bio-Industrial Mechatronics Engineering
NT$150,000
Bronze Sin-fen Hu
6th-year PhD student in the Institute of Biotechnology
NT$60,000
Honorable mention Wan-ting Sun
2nd-year graduate student in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
NT$30,000
Honorable mention Cheng-kang Tang
3rd-year PhD student in the Department of Entomology
NT$30,000
Honorable mention Yu-hsin Wang
2nd-year graduate student in the Institute of Food Science and Technology
NT$30,000
Total NT$500,000
 
In addition to Ms Fang, other winners have completed outstanding research in areas such as environmental monitoring, imaging analytics systems, and how viruses survive inside plants (see the description of winning projects below).
 
Speaking during the award ceremony, Chairman Chen-pang Wu noted that the collaborative effort went well and that plans are underway to expand the award to all agritech-related students nationwide, with a total prize of NT$1 million.
 
Hu-sheng Lu, head of the CBA, echoed the need for innovation. Despite the vibrant R&D culture in Taiwan’s agritech industry, Lu pointed out the shortage of joint efforts among industry leaders and schools to encourage research from the ground up. The result is a decreasing number of enrollments in graduate and PhD programs. He hoped more businesses would become involved by encouraging agritech R&D. The efforts will one day give rise to new and promising technologies and top talents, which will benefit companies in the long run. The virtuous cycle will be a triple win: for businesses, schools, and students.
 
Description of Winning Projects
 
1. Gold
 
Ru-ying Fang, of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, won the top prize for her research project, “Pathogenic Effects and Mechanisms of CEVd-derived Small RNAs on Citrus Exocortis Viroid-infected Tomato Plants”. Viroids are types of plant pathogens that affect citrus, coconuts, potatoes, chrysanthemum, and other plants, and can cause significant economic losses in agriculture. Her research confirms that viroid RNAs are cleaved by hosts into small RNAs, resulting in specific immune responses and RNA silencing. CEVd-infected tomatoes show stunting, epinasty, and leaf yellowing symptoms. The research provides insights into how viroids induce symptoms in plants, as well as guiding further research on prevention.
 
2. Silver
 
Dan Jeric A. Rustia, a PhD student in the Department of Bio-Industrial Mechatronics Engineering, won the second prize for his research project, “An Integrated Imaging and Environmental Monitoring System for Integrated Pest Management”. The system monitors and collects environmental data such as temperature, humidity, and sunshine, and calculates and identifies the number and types of insects. With this system, farmers will be able to keep track of environmental information on their land and take preventive measures against pests.
 
3. Bronze
 
Sin-fen Hu, a PhD student in the Institute of Biotechnology, won third place for her research project, “Study on How P1 Protein of Potyvirus Suppresses the Regulation Mechanism of miRNA in HC-Pro”. She investigated how P1 and HC-Pro of potyvirus interfere with plants’ immune systems (RNA silencing). Potyvirus attacks plants by releasing P1 and HC-Pro proteins, which interact and affect a plant’s immune system, leading to stunting and epinasty. The research provides insights into how viruses survive inside plants and attack the plant immune system. This is an important area that has huge potential for crop protection.