#TECH: Propelling Malaysia into high-tech economy [NSTTV]

THE Science, Technology, and Innovation (Mosti) Minister Chang Lih Kang has the stars in his sights as he takes the ministry on projects spanning the establishment of a privately financed space launch site, alternative energy and startup developments.

Recently, he shared his insights into the initiatives of his ministry to propel the country into the future.

Hydrogen Economy and Technology Roadmap

Malaysia has the potential to become a regional leader in the energy transition and renewable energy industry with the introduction of the Hydrogen Economy and Technology Roadmap (HETR).

Chang said the HETR was first developed in 2021 due to the absence of a national hydrogen energy initiative despite having international interests.

"Hydrogen is the future. The cost is still high compared with fossil fuels, but as the country heads towards the environmental, social and governance goals of decarbonisation, it is the way forward," he said.

Malaysia has the advantage of producing green hydrogen (obtained from renewable energy sources) and blue hydrogen (obtained from hydrocarbons) as there are enough resources available.

"We have enough land resources for solar and abundant water resources for hydropower like, for instance, in Sarawak to produce green hydrogen.

"We also have the advantage of producing blue hydrogen using natural gas as well. This is because we have an oil and gas industry.

"We can offset the blue hydrogen production through carbon captures, however, we will eventually be a 100 per cent green hydrogen producer," he said.

However, Chang said to become one of the main exporters of green hydrogen in the region, this energy sector must be built from scratch as it was relatively new in the country.

"We need to build it and at the same time, we need to create and produce the demand, hence the need to create a new ecosystem of hydrogen users.

"By 2050, this hydrogen economy will give us 200,000 new jobs," he said, adding that talks are underway in the private sector to adopt hydrogen vehicles to kick-start the ecosystem.

Privately-financed space launch facility

Malaysia's strategic location near the equator provides a benefit when it comes to launching rockets into orbit, taking into account that the Earth's rotation is faster at the equator than at higher latitudes.

As such, Chang said this could be beneficial as it would mean that rocket launches from Malaysia would require less thrust and fuel.

"When we talk about rocket launching facilities, we don't mean making rockets. [It's] about building the launch facilities in Malaysia and there are a few factors that are advantageous to us.

"First of all, our location is strategic because we are near the equator. This means when we launch a rocket we can save on fuel. Secondly, we do not have volcanoes or earthquakes and we are out of the very important earthquake belt.

"Thirdly, we have a relatively matured electronic and electrical industry ecosystem," he added.

Chang said the project would not be funded through public funds but instead a private finance initiative (PFI), where a guideline encompassing the environmental impact and socio-economy of affected communities has been set for the private sector to follow.

MySTI and Single Window startup initiatives

In its move to drive the adoption of local research and development (R&D) products and services, particularly in government procurement and to expand market access, Chang said the ministry had launched the MySTI and Single Window initiatives.

He said this initiative was in line with the country's commitment to become an early adopter of local innovations, fostering technology-and-innovation-based industries.

"The MySTI functions through a logo certification programme and an accessible product inventory on their portal,

"This certification provides priority in government procurement for eligible products and services. The programme's key objectives include enhancing competitiveness, job creation, capacity improvement for local technology firms, fostering innovation, recognising talents in science and technology, and attracting investments," he added.

By May 2025, MySTI aims to certify a minimum of 300 local R&D products and services with the MySTI logo, with at least 50 of them procured via government contracts.

For the Single Window initiative MYStartup, Chang said as of last month , the initiative has onboarded close to 3,500 startups well in line with the target set by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of having 5,000 startups by 2025.

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