Only 3.2pc of R&D funds commercialised by public varsities

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — Public universities commercialised just RM7.6 million or 3.2 per cent of research and development (R&D) grants given by the government last year.

The Ministry of Higher Education told Parliament today this was “satisfactory” despite also stating that the international standard for rates of commercialisation of R&D was 10 per cent.

“Fundamental R&D takes a lot of time to mature. It needs added research and prototyping before becoming a commercial product which requires more funds,” said Deputy Minister Datuk Hou Kok Chung.

The Kluang MP also said that the government has increased the allocation for R&D to RM741 million in the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) that runs from this year to 2015, more than double the RM285 million handed out in the 9th Malaysia Plan.

He said that this year alone, the government has approved 1,511 out of 8,425 applications for research grants worth nearly RM200 million.

According to the Higher Education Ministry, Universiti Utara Malaysia was the top-ranking university in terms of rate of R&D commercialisation with RM3.48 million worth of products while Universiti Malaya was second with just RM1.27 million.

Hou also said that under the 10MP, the rate of commercialisation was expected to exceed 4 per cent this year and hit 5 per cent by 2015.

He said this would be aided by a new prototype development research grant scheme with an allocation nearly RM10 million set up by the ministry this year.

Local universities have not shone on the international stage for research with not a single varsity making the recently released Times Higher Education Top 400 World University Rankings 2011/12.

But Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Khaled Nordin explained last month that local universities did not participate in the study as they lacked the research expertise needed for a placing.

“We know that if we participated, we will not even make it into the Times Top 400 university rankings because we are new, we need to wait until our research really matures. Our elements of research are just too young and immature,” he said.

The California Institute of Technology or Caltech secured top spot in this year’s rankings, followed by Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Princeton.

The World University Rankings first appeared as a supplement in The Times of London. They are now published by the Times Higher Education magazine.

The weekly is regarded as the Britain’s leading higher education publication.

By Shannon Teoh
November 14, 2011

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