“All of our good talents move to Singapore” is one of the biggest complaints attributed to the slow progression of Malaysia’s tech ecosystem when put up against neighbouring SEA countries. Malaysia is able to produce lots of good talent, but we don’t retain them very well.
To add, Malaysia’s innovation capabilities are also limited because 80% of local researchers prefer to secure jobs in higher learning institutions. That leaves only 16% of them in the private sector and 4% in non-profit ones.
This was according to the CEO of Technology Park Malaysia (TPM), Dzuleira Abu Bakar. She compares these statistics to highly innovative nations such as South Korea, where the numbers are flipped with 82% of researchers working in the private sector.
Other than that, Dzuleira also believes that the main issue stifling innovation in Malaysia is the poor management and low commercialisation rates for these ideas.
“Today, our commercialisation rate is quite low competitively, with an average of 15-20% within the last couple of years,” Dzuleira told Vulcan Post. “And although there are commercialisation activities by the corporate and various institutions, it needs to be centralised, or even aggregated for a multiplier effect.”
Thus, through the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), a new agency is being formed to tackle all of the above under one hub. It is known as the Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI).
A one-stop shop for tech development & commercialisation
As a quick refresher, TPM and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) were recently merged. This was following MOSTI’s intention to restructure its agencies via a consolidation to create a new functional technology and commercialisation agency.
It’s all in MOSTI’s plan to accelerate Malaysia towards becoming an innovation-driven economy.
Hence, MRANTI will be formed through the consolidation of both TPM and MaGIC. Its shareholders imagine MRANTI to be the one-stop shop for innovators and tech entrepreneurs to find all resources, funding, advice, and commercialisation facilities in Malaysia.
RM30 million has been allocated to support its efforts
A month ago, Budget 2022 allocated RM423 million for both MOSTI and the Ministry of Higher Education for the acceleration of R&D activities. From the pool, TPM (soon MRANTI) was allocated RM30 million to support the innovation ecosystem for areas such as drones, robotics, and autonomous vehicles (AV).
“We aim to impact 5,000 technopreneurs and develop 15 intellectual properties (IPs) in 2022 through infrastructure and facilities, coaching and mentoring, market access, as well as knowledge exchange,” said Dzuleira.
MRANTI also plans to have an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Park in Malaysia. Within it, various facilities will be introduced to support its development. They include a 5G development hub, sustainable urban farming incubation facility, biotechnology incubation hub, along with an AV and Robotics Hub.
These facilities were chosen as they are interlinked. For example, the testing, incubation, and development of autonomous vehicles go hand-in-hand with the development of 5G technology.
AI Park will function to complement Area 57, a 5-acre R&D centre by TPM to advance the development of local drone industries.
Should its plan work as intended, the country will see growth in the areas of science, technology, innovation, and economy (STIE) and hit the targets set out in the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK12).
The RMK12 main targets are:
When will this happen?
MRANTI will commence its operations in January 2022, facilitating startups with resources to support technology development, market access, prototyping and testing, funding, facilitation, and more.
“With MRANTI, we don’t want discoveries to just be discoveries. We are bringing them out of the laboratories and into real life to unlock more socio-economic value,” Dzuleira said.
At the end of the day, it’s about scaling the ideas and innovations of entrepreneurs in an efficient, quick, and effective way.
Malaysia is already late to the game in becoming a high-tech and high-income nation when put against international nations, much less SEA countries.
Through its collaborative approaches and far-reaching goals, can MRANTI do more than just help the nation catch up? We and our fellow Malaysians will be watching with bated breath.