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THINK LIKE A CHAMP: Science and technology can transform the country from being a follower to a leader
IT has been said countless times, in the halls of power, classrooms of great universities and the most innovative and profitable companies. But it needs to be said again. Technology and innovation are the tools of our future success.
Of all the resources at our disposal, only one is truly unlimited, the infinite resource of human innovation. Human innovation in technology has accelerated in the last century faster than any century. Humans today are the most educated to have ever lived and the pace of change, innovation and advances in technology are only speeding up.
During his presentation at Technology Park Malaysia recently, Jerome Glenn, director of the Millennium Project, an international non-profit organisation dedicated to understanding and predicting future changes, told an audience of Malaysian government officials, academics and private sector representatives, "imagine the most radical future you can, and then double it. That's the reality you should be anticipating".
The rapid succession of human advances in technological understanding will create new pressures on last-generation companies but also create new opportunities as new industries emerge and the more innovative among us foresee, catalyse and capitalise on change.
At the newly created Singularity University in San Jose, Peter Diamandis, the co-founder of this unique university for selected entrepreneurs, together with Ray Kurzweil, believes understanding and applying technology appropriately will allow us to leverage on the abundance of God-given resources to solve current and future challenges.
And at IBM Research Centres, researchers are exploring the tiniest of materials, at the mole-cule level, to enhance the properties of materials that have reached its nanoscale limits.
Grand challenges, such as those around issues of sustainable development and climate change; clean water; population and resources; global convergence of science and technology; health; and energy, will present both challenges to us as a species and new opportunities for companies and countries which address them head on.
But at the heart of this is the ability to manage and exploit technology with deep understanding and to come up with appropriate strategies to harness them into top-line businesses that take into account societal and environmental impacts.
Malaysia possesses all it needs to become a world leader in all of these areas and more. There are no natural limits to our creative and innovative capability and with the right mix of foresight, research and development, education and technology commercialisation management, we can be among those leaders who answer to the grand challenges of tomorrow's world.
If we as a nation choose to recognise today the role of innovation and technology in the lives and livelihoods of our children and our grandchildren, we can equip them with the education and mindset to build the businesses of tomorrow.
Malaysia's science and technology ecosystem -- a mixture of government organisations, universities and research institutes and private sector companies -- is a Goliath. This lumbering giant needs direction but has the ability to transform drastically Malaysia as a country as we make that quantum leap from a follower to a leader in emerging technology.
To get there we must look beyond the near future to technology issues yet to emerge and ready our most talented minds to be early adopters of catalytic and game-changing technologies. We must provide an ecosystem for our most innovative companies to thrive and compete globally.
We must ensure our procurements are leveraged to drive industry development in areas such as advanced electronics, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing. We must privilege the research work of our public and private institutes in basic sciences and do all we can to promote the commercialisation of research in applied sciences.
We must instil in our young people an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and we must celebrate the successes of Malaysia's great technology companies and the individuals who drive their growth.
Most of all, we must understand that where we are going, to become a leading nation, we must create various teams of champions, a triple-helix of government, industry and academia muscling our efforts together, right from the idea stage up to implementation. At Might, together with our members and partners, we make this happen every day.