In the Prime Minister’s budget speech for 2016, he stressed that the way forward for the country was to raise productivity by accelerating innovation and creativity, and by banking on our local research and development (R&D) products and services.
Most scientific research managed to pass the laboratory stage but not the market place and wither away before reaching the commercialisation stage, a phase commonly referred to as the “valley of death.”
A new idea has to be put into practice, applied in a manner that leads to new products or services, so that it adds value or quality.
According to the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) Reviews of Innovation Policy: Malaysia 2016 despite reforms in our university system, we need to strengthen the quality and relevance of research as the impact tends to be low.
The number of citations of our publications has to grow in parallel with the number of publications.
Even when intellectual properties are generated with the potential to be commercialised and solve societal challenges, much of them remain unutilised on the shelves.
The report recommended priority setting for more impact, and larger-scale collaborative programmes for critical mass.
We also need to engage the industry from the very beginning of applied research so that it is based on industry needs to remain competitive.
Government funded research must be fit for the purpose of national development.
The review also highlighted that a set of public support measures should be in place to foster business innovation.
A broad range of businesses, including local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), need continuous hands-on support and easy access to critical resources to engage in R&D and innovation capacity building.
To support companies and organisations in moving their intellectual property into market-ready products, the Prime Minister declared year 2016 as “Malaysia Commercialisation Year” or MCY.
Commercialisation is crucial to bridge R&D findings with the users.
MCY would act as a melting pot to amalgamate technology owners and entrepreneurs.
We pay particular attention to niche areas such as our high technology export players in electric and electronics, rubber, palm oil, biotechnology and nanotechnology.
Commercialisation programmes had been intensified this year.
Innovators boot camp, business coaching and mentoring, pitching, business matching, and products and technology previews were held all year round leading to the MCY Summit on Thursday and Friday.
One of the successes from MCY is the design and development of the world’s first, medicine-specific, end-to-end software solution application, named Digital Autopsy.
iGene Sdn Bhd innovated a solution to the traditional, invasive post-mortem examination. Already in contact with markets beyond our shores, this advanced technology can determine the cause of death without physical surgery on the deceased body.
Another innovation that has made its mark on the international market in the oilfield industry is the Intelligent Circulation While Drilling, or iCWD, tool. Oil and gas producers are always seeking methods to access deeper and more arduous reservoirs and to improve drilling efficiencies.
iCWD is jointly developed by Petronas and MIT Technologies. First of its kind in the industry, it is an intelligent drilling valve system that activates and communicates with downhole tools.
This means enabling the driller to treat losses, place cement plugs or improve hole cleaning without pulling the driver out of hole, saving operators’ valuable time and money.
This locally developed technology is currently deployed for Petronas’ domestic operations and we would soon see its application in international locations.
A participant of the incubation programme in Technology Park Malaysia (TPM), MIT Technologies jointly owns the intellectual property rights and patent with Petronas.
I congratulate them for winning the Best Overall MCY 2016 Award and Top Commercial Deal Category Award.
Several agencies under the purview of Mosti facilitate innovation and commercialisation through incubation, promotion of technology transfer, acceleration programs, human capital development and fund management that align with national priorities.
These are namely TPM, Bioeconomy Corporation, Nano Malaysia Berhad, Malaysia Venture Capital (MAVCAP), Malaysia Debt Ventures Berhad (MDV), Kumpulan Modal Perdana and Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC).
To enhance the institutional framework, Mosti underwent a restructuring exercise to cope with evolving needs of the STI ecosystem. The new Technology Transfer and Commercialisation Division had been operational since October, to coordinate technology transfer mechanisms in the country and aid commercialisation of research findings.
To help our innovators escape from the “Valley of Death”, Mosti would partner with the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) to streamline the 16,000 Malaysian owed Intellectual Properties thus far.
We would assess public funded projects to determine their level of technological, market and business readiness.
They would identify weaknesses and propose special interventions, legal advice and incentives to protect technological assets and provide marketing support to facilitate the adoption and market uptake of inventions.
For a specific new technology arising from a research project that has a business potential, the government has announced a number of initiatives to further develop the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
There are now well over 150 programmes being implemented by 15 ministries and 60 agencies to spur entrepreneurship.
During the MCY Summit, Prime Minister noted that a National Entrepreneurship Development Plan is being drafted.
This blueprint would coordinate, oversee and assess our programs and funds related to entrepreneurship.
The government is also creating a physical and virtual Entrepreneurship Portal, and Entrepreneur Test Beds for aspiring entrepreneurs to trial their business endeavours online or offline, at minimum cost and risk.
As part of MCY, Mosti collaborated with the Ministry of Finance in organising 1Malaysia Entrepreneurship boot camps, coaching 5,000 young entrepreneurs every year. This programme has impacted 25,877 so far.
Coming back to governance, Mosti has also established a Monitoring and Evaluation Division. Malaysia can learn from Korea Institute of Science and Technology Evaluation and Planning (KISTEP) where I visited in October.
In South Korea, under the purview of its Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning KISTEP supports science and technology planning, budget allocation and coordination, and most importantly, R&D evaluation.
This is based on three pillars of P.I.E approach, which stands for Planning-Implementation-Evaluation.
Both the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the OECD have been actively promoting Digital Economy to policymakers.
This was evident in the 10th Annual Meeting of the New Champions this year, where thousands of government leaders and businesses convened to discuss the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and during the OECD Ministerial Meeting on Digital Economy, both in June.
Not to be left behind, the government recently proposed to establish the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone in Malaysia.
This would be a platform to merge physical and virtual zones, with additional online and digital services to facilitate international e-commerce and invigorate Internet-based innovation.
At the Summit, we are pleased that Prime Minister announced the second wave of the Malaysian Commercialisation Year for 2017 – MCY 2.0. R&D activities funded by the government especially by MOSTI would require collaborators from the industry and private sector to be part of the development work from the very beginning.
The Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) would be a strategic partner of MCY in this second wave to reach out to solution seekers from the local and international market to utilise our readily available intellectual properties or explore novel solutions altogether.
In Mosti, I initiated an “Innovators Dynamic” roundtable programme to gather Ministries, government agencies, public research institutions and universities, the industry and non-governmental organisations to innovate and commercialise solutions to existing technological problems.
Our first subject was on the automation of rubber tapping, where we are working very closely with the Malaysia Rubber Board to explore technological opportunities.
About 74 per cent of the 77,000 hectares of rubber trees in the country developed through a government-funded programme by way of a loan implanted through the Malaysian Timber Industry board (MTIB) for example have been left untapped due to shortage of labour.
Malaysia is currently the world’s largest producer of rubber gloves, commanding 63 per cent of world market share and is expecting an export revenue of RM 14.3 billion this year according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (MARGMA).
However, it is ironic Malaysia has to import from Thailand about 50 per cent of the raw material for making surgical glove, that is rubber latex.
If Malaysia can roll out the Automated Rubber Tapping System it means more rubber latex could be produced to meet demand of the surgical glove and condom making industry.
In the spirit of National Blue Ocean Strategy, Mosti is inviting all stakeholders for discussions to improve our rubber tapping automation technology to fully harness opportunities in the industry.
Needless to say, innovation and entrepreneurial successes do not come by without passion.
We encourage passionate individuals to continue to be persistent in innovating ideas and bringing them to the market, and leverage on the support extended by the government, such as in the upcoming MCY 2.0.