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Malaysia’s hi-tech nation council champions emerging tech

On 17 December, the Malaysian Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation chaired the first High-Tech Nation Council meeting which aimed to give strategic direction regarding existing and upcoming technology that has the potential to be developed in Malaysia. The High-Tech Nation Council will report directly to the National Science Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister.

The programmes, roadmaps and policies under the High-Tech Nation Council are driven by the MySTIE 10-10 and National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2021-2030 that he launched last week. 30 niche areas were identified under this framework, and the High-Tech Nation Council will aim to fill in any gaps that have been identified to make sure that there is a maximum impact in these areas.

This Council will be proactive and champion upcoming technologies that the nation must embark on to position it at the forefront of what is current and what is cutting-edge. The Minster has chosen to prioritise some of the programmes, roadmaps and policies in line with pressing national needs.

Some of the papers presented on 19 December 2020 include the Ministry of Health’s paper on precision medicine, which takes a personalised, predictive, preventive and participatory approach to medicine. This will be layered together with big-data analytics to give personalised recommendations to each person.

National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM) presented on the National Water Innovation Roadmap, to guarantee national water security. This involves five programmes; Clean River, Reserve Margin, Smart Water, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Water Financing.

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation presented nine roadmaps that are currently being developed under our agencies. All of these roadmaps will be unveiled by the middle of 2021. These roadmaps will guide the country’s investments and policy direction in rolling out these technologies. They will cover blockchain, nanotechnology, robotics, hydrogen, artificial intelligence, integrated circuits and advanced materials among others.

The Academy of Sciences presented on institutionalising a Tech-Commercialisation Accelerator, to spearhead and coordinate economic-oriented research in the form of demand-driven R&D and market-driven delivery systems for disruptive innovations. This will be announced in due course.

The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) also presented on Motorcycle Technology: Solving a Dilemma between Economic Development and Safety. 66% of the fatalities on the road involve motorcycles. The hope is to incentive the development, application and deployment of existing and future technologies to improve accessibility and all aspects of road safety.

Potential areas being looked into include testing and verification technology, crash avoidance technology, injury mitigation technology (in event of a crash), social reintegration technology (which refers to smart first response and rehabilitation technology), and management and strategic planning technology.

The Ministry of Environment and Water presented the National Green Technology Innovation Roadmap, which aims to leverage green technology innovation for an environmentally sustainable Malaysia by 2030. Sectoral innovations under this roadmap include government green procurement, smart grid technology, green industrial process, IoT river monitoring, Waste to Energy and Wealth schemes, application of smart and green buildings, energy efficiency vehicles & electric vehicles, vertical & urban farming, and IoT forest monitoring.

Lastly, but not least, in line with behavioural changes due to Covid-19, the Minister asked MOSTI to prepare a paper on Low-Touch Infrastructure and Economic Initiatives. These will require a paradigm shift in how the individuals look and interact both with each other, and the world around them.

Some of the low-touch initiatives the government has quickly identified include autonomous floor scrubbers, autonomous power assist robots (to carry your goods) and smart waste management systems in public markets.

Robotic solutions have also been launched in hospitals together with MOH, and robotics, drones and artificial intelligence modules were launched in plantations together with FELDA. Some of these initiatives will be realised via the National Technology & Innovation Sandbox.

Many of these programmes, roadmaps, and policies have existed and been implemented in silos by different ministries and agencies. The Minister noted that this is just the start of how the development and application of technology are being relooked at in Malaysia, to ensure everything is in line with national needs and is part of a coherent whole.

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