R&D: Accelerating development of science, technology and innovation
Science and technology have always played a pivotal role in Malaysia’s development and as the country continues to develop at a rapid pace this has become more apparent. This was the thought process for the development of the first National Science and Technology Policy that spanned 1986 to 1989.
It was established to promote the utilisation of science and technology to be used as a tool for economic development and the improvement of people and physical well-being, among others.
The policy encompassed the promotion of scientific and technological self-reliance in support of economic activities through the enhancement of research and development capabilities. This was done by creating an environment that was conducive to scientific creativity and the improvement of scientific, educational and other relevant infrastructure.
Next, the Industrial Technology Development: A National Action Plan, which ran from 1990 to 2001, was formulated focusing on three thrusts – strengthening institutions and support infrastructure for technological development, ensuring diffusion and application of technology, and elevating science and technology public awareness.
The Second National Science and Technology Policy (NSTP2) was formulated in 2002 and runs until this year. The NSTP2 provides a framework for improved performance and long-term growth of the Malaysian economy with a special focus on seven strategic thrusts:
• Enhancing national capability
and capacity for R&D, technology
development and acquisition
• Promoting partnerships between
public funded organisations and
• Accelerating the transformation
of knowledge into value added
products, processes, services or
• Positioning Malaysia as a
technology provider in key
strategic knowledge industries
• Fostering societal values and
attitudes that recognise science
and technology as critical to future
• Utilising science and technology
that are in conformity with
• Developing new knowledge-based
The policy will accelerate the development of science and technology capabilities and capacity for national competitiveness. It advocates maximising the utilisation and advancement of science and technology as a tool for sustaining economic development, the improvement of quality of life and safeguarding national security.
Objectives: One of the policy’s goals is to enhance national capacity in R&D by creating a competent work force of at least 50 researchers per 10,000 workers in the country. The NSTP2 shows that there has been a steady increase in the gross expenditure on R&D (GERD), leading to a substantial increase in Malaysia’s GERD/GDP from 0.22 per cent in 1996 to 0.82 per cent in 2008. GERD increased substantially from RM0.55 billion in 1996 to RM6.07 billion in 2008.
In terms of human resource in R&D in Malaysia, in 2008, there were a total of 40,840 research personnel made up of researchers, technicians, and support staff, the highest recorded so far. Of this total, 77 per cent were researchers, followed by technicians (6.6 per cent) and support staff (16.4 per cent).
The researcher headcount was estimated at 31,442 with a ratio of 28.5 researchers per 10,000 workers. It has increased significantly (76.7 per cent) over a period of seven years – 2002 to 2008. However, a lot still needs to be done to achieve the targeted 50 researchers per 10,000 workers by 2015.
Gaining from the policy: The implementation of the NSTP2 has aided a range of groups including public research institutes, institutions of higher learning, science and technology-based NGOs, industries especially SMEs, and science, technology and innovation agencies and communities.
These groups benefited through the various initiatives and programmes that were implemented by MOSTI including the enhancements of national capability and capacity for R&D, the forging of partnerships between public-funded research organisations and industries, the enhancement of commercialisation of R&D outputs, empowerment through science and technology awareness programmes, the utilisation of science and technology towards sustainable development, and the development of new knowledge-based industries.
Partnerships: To realise the NSTP2, MOSTI has come together with partners from the public sector, private sector, civil society and communities in implementing various science and technology programmes. It has forged partnerships with these parties to ensure the effectiveness of two major science, technology and innovation awareness and enculturation programmes – the Malaysia Innovative 2010, 2011 Science and Mathematics Promotion Programme themed ‘go science, love maths’ and Year of Science and National Innovation Movement (SGI2012).
MOSTI‘s partners have their respective roles to play in these programmes that underpin national commitment to acculturate and transform the nation through science, technology and innovation.
On the global front, MOSTI participates in the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) that is set-up specifically as a national initiative to boost and optimise Malaysia’s capabilities in science and innovation. The GSIAC, through collaboration with global partners, strives to provide advise to the prime minister on matters concerning innovation, science and technology, thus adding value to Malaysia’s national transformation agenda. Currently, the GSIAC is focusing on several initiatives including green futures, innovative digital economy, and city-smart villages.
What’s to come: Presently MOSTI is working on the third National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (NSTIP),which will come into effect next year to aid the significant economic challenges that the country faces. A good number of strategies under the NSTP2 will remain valid, but new approaches will be implemented to cater to the current dynamic global science, technology and innovation scenario.
The measures set out in the NSTIP will provide a solid basis for building a dynamic innovation-led economy in Malaysia through harnessing the full potential of science and technology to enhance the nation’s innovative capacity.
The NSTIP will ensure that science, technology and innovation become a powerful socio-economic instrument that will enhance the nation’s wealth creation and societal well-being. This will be achieved through the adoption of a holistic approach that incorporates key strategic thrusts such as generating, deploying and utilising knowledge on science, technology and innovation for national advantage, intensifying talent development for an innovation economy, energising innovation in industry, and transforming governance framework for science and technology to support innovation.
A new feature in the new policy will be inclusive innovation, to meet the needs of the low-income or the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) population, thus making the benefits of science, technology and innovation available to all citizens.
Additionally the NSTIP will be aligned to support the New Economic Model in achieving the goals of a high-income economy, inclusiveness and sustainability by 2020.