R&D needs more support to power growth

IF one were to assess the success of a nation in terms of its wealth and economic growth, innovation would surely play a significant role. Countries that have embarked on research and development (R&D) in a big way are now enjoying the fruits of their labour in terms of stronger economic growth and higher per capita income.

In Asia, countries like Japan, China and South Korea have entrenched innovation and creativity into their culture and are adequately funded and protected by their governments.

Malaysian Association of Creativity and Innovation (Macri) vice-president Mohan K says leveraging natural creativity and innovation for commercialisation and economic growth requires the appropriate institutional support rather than mere funding alone.

It requires a climate and a culture that is supportive of R&D and where certain amount of risk-taking is balanced by the use of market discipline and good practices to identify the best products and services in the market, he adds.

Mohan: ‘Innovation and creativity will only move if there is an incentive for the innovator or creator.

Innovation and creativity, he says, will only move if there is an incentive for the innovator or creator. “It is harder for an invention to see the light of day if there is no commercial value. To stimulate innovation and creativity, we need policies to encourage the commercialisation of these innovations.

“For instance, we can have directives that will ensure that government departments only procure locally invented products. This is provided that the technology meets a certain standard and the price is competitive, and that continued procurement will only happen if there is continuous innovation and improvement in quality,” he says.

Mohan says another ingredient needed to push innovation and creativity forward is recognition, adding that recognition though can take many forms but essentially it means acknowledgement, endorsement and awards.

He says the Government is serious about innovation and creativity and how companies including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) adopt them and value-add in their products and services with the aim of commercialising their creation.

He says the setting up of government agencies like Agency Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) is a right direction towards advocating and championing innovation in Malaysia.

According to Mohan, although there are good policies in place to enhance innovation and R&D, more should be done in the implementation and execution of such policies.

Only those inventions and R&D which are sound and can be commercialised he says should be given incentives and grants, adding that the evaluation process should be conducted in an appropriate manner and only deserving applicants should be eligible for the incentives.

He says innovation and creativity can benefit SMEs as they can invent a product and patent and license it and subsequently receive royalties if another company agrees to sell their products or services. He says this at the same time will lower the costs of doing business for companies in the long run.

Intellectual Property Corp of Malaysia (MyIPO) recently amended the Patents and Trade Marks Regulations that came into enforcement on Feb 15 to improve the procedures and shorten the pendency period for the registration of patents and trademarks.

The duration for the process of application of patents was shortened from 39 months as of last year to 26 months effective Feb 15. But those applying on a “fast track basis” (a clear cut case without any form of opposition), the application process is 20 months.

For trademark, the duration had been shortened to between nine months and 12 months for normal applications, and between three weeks and six months for fast track ones. There were more than 14,000 and 15,000 applications for local and foreign trademarks respectively last year.

The Malaysian Productivity Corporation (MPC), in collaboration with MACRI, will be publishing a follow-up book, after the first one which was launched last year, to recognise Malaysian companies including SMEs and local universities which have been successful in innovation. This effort by MPC will confer recognition on the companies that are innovative and spur the culture of innovation in Malaysia.

Organisations that feel they are deserving and should be included in the book are welcomed to send in a brief description of their foremost invention with pictures to MACRI.

The new book is scheduled to be launched end of the year. The first book entitled “Malaysian Innovators Journey of Creativity to Reality” was published to commemorate and to highlight the efforts of local inventors in coming up with inventions that have moved Malaysia forward on the innovative map.

By DALJIT DHESI
daljit@thestar.com.my

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