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Malaysia introduces new AI scholarship programme

Malaysia’s Minister of Multimedia and Communications recently announced the MYINDUSTRY AI Scholarship Programme, an AI-focused Masters by research certification jointly funded by the industry, universities, and Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

The development of this programme presents a huge market opportunity for Malaysia, and it is important that the region collectively build its own AI and Big Data capabilities.

As such, to develop a strategic and practical approach to enhancing its AI potential, the nation’s agencies will focus on AI and data technology talent development by working closely with industry partners alongside building infrastructure that enables a trusted AI ecosystem.

At a prior event, the Minister had spoken about the imminent launch of a policy for data and artificial intelligence (AI) which play significant roles in Industrial Revolution 4.0. While an exact date was not given, it was noted that the policy would be developed soon.

Malaysia has the potential to be the centre for the Southeast Asia region by focusing on developing talent to increase knowledge about AI.

The policy is currently undergoing robust discussions with stakeholders together to get input from them as to what they are concerned about.

The pilot scholarship programme will provide a minimum monthly stipend of RM2,500 up to 24 months as well as tuition fees. Participating universities include the University of Malaya, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), and Multimedia University.

The pioneer companies supporting this scholarship include a media company, an online banking portal, a telecommunication firm and many other leading tech firms.

To develop more industry-ready talent, UTM acknowledged the support from 7 industry partners, including 1-year placements for their pioneer batch of students under the 2u2i mode programme for Bachelor of Computer Science (Data Engineering). For this programme, MDEC facilitated the industry review of its curriculum and internship placement.

The objective of this programme is to provide students with greater exposure to real work experience through more learning time in the industry.

MDEC has also introduced the Data-Driven Decision (DDD) Enterprise Adoption Programme to ease the adoption of data technology (i.e. data analytics and AI) amongst business enterprises.  The is to provide a structured and accelerated approach to assist business enterprises in making data-driven decisions to enhance business outcomes and drive new business growth.

In support of the DDD Enterprise Adoption Program, MDEC has also established a data technology ecosystem initiative, known as the Data Technology Partnership Programme.  This data technology ecosystem will support the data technology adoption journey of business enterprises, providing access to data technology solutions, expert advisory, talent development and use-case sharing.

To date, 16 technology partners and 12 training partners have been appointed under this programme.

OpenGov Asia reported that owing to its unique location at the heart of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is an ideal candidate to be a leader of research in and development of the ethics in Artificial Intelligence (AI), according to the Communications and Multimedia Minister.

Hence, Malaysia must focus on building the necessary data and AI capabilities to ensure its industries, government and people are able to take advantage of the opportunities being offered.

To do this, three key components — talent, trust and ethics — are required to develop a proper AI and data ecosystem.

The consensus amongst governments, industry leaders and recruitment firms worldwide is that there is a global shortage of AI talent. Malaysia, like the rest of the world, needs to develop deeper talent to further grow the nation’s AI ecosystem.

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