World Bank says crucial to strengthen support for Malaysia’s public research to revive growth

21-Nov-2020 Intellasia | Malay Mail | 6:02 AM Print This Post

It is crucial to strengthen support for Malaysia’s public research organisations and universities to revive growth which is innovation-driven to weather the current global crisis and achieve Malaysia’s aspirations of becoming a high-income nation, according to a new finding of a World Bank report.

The report, “Assessing the Effectiveness of Public Research Institutions: Fostering Knowledge Linkages and Transferring Technology in Malaysia”, draws its findings from a new survey, which analyses the levels of knowledge and technology transfer in the country.

The report was launched by Science, Technology and Innovation minister Khairy Jamaludin.

In a statement today, World Bank Group representative to Malaysia and country manager Firas Raad said the transition to a more innovation-based growth model is even more urgent in the current uncertain global context.

“While the GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate has proven resilient in recent years, declining oil and gas output, coupled with economic shocks, including the recent Covid-19 pandemic, have dented the growth momentum.

“In this difficult context, a sustained increase in private investment, coupled with improvements in productivity will be necessary to maintain a sustainable economic growth trajectory that enables Malaysia to reach high-income and developed country status,” he said.

The World Bank’s new report also highlighted that while research and development (R&D) funding, and improvements to policy have expanded in Malaysia over the years, more can be done as it transitions to the league of high-income countries like Singapore, Japan and South Korea in the region, and others like Germany, France and the United States.

The report said Malaysia has seen rapid growth in the number of scientific publications, but without a corresponding increase in quality.

According to data from Elsevier-Scopus, scientific output from Malaysia increased 4.5 times between 2008 and 2018, however, the quality of research as reflected in the citation impact index of scientific publications remains low when compared to high-income countries, the report cited.

In terms of research spending, it said Malaysia’s research intensity is higher than its regional peers but lags behind richer countries with the country’s R&D intensity peaked at 1.44 per cent of GDP in 2016, but has since been declining, falling short of the levels seen in high-income economies.

In his speech during the virtual launch, Khairy said Malaysia’s key challenge today is to facilitate and accelerate the transition to this innovation-based growth model in the country, by putting policies and institutions that could more effectively encourage innovation, technology adoption and commercialisation of research.

“This new World Bank report calls for deeper partnerships among the science and technology players in Malaysia in coordination with MOSTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation) to elevate the quality and outcomes of the research ecosystem in Malaysia” he said.

The report finds that policy changes made in performance-based budgeting have seen improvements in publications and patents, as well as collaborations with industry, however, there has been little progress seen in the commercialisation of research outputs and technology transfer activities from research organisations to industry, said the World Bank.

With multiple actors, ministries, agencies and research organisations, and the varying nature of research, the landscape of research institutions is highly complex, it said.

“This situation has led to a lack of coordination to facilitate and encourage research commercialisation and the transfer of new knowledge and technology.

“Other key challenges most cited in the field include funding inconsistencies, mismatched incentives, and differing expectations between academia and industry,” said the World Bank.

Meanwhile, it said among the report’s recommendations was the urgent need for greater coordination and long-term strategic planning across the research and innovation ecosystem in Malaysia.

“Such efforts would include better implementation of academic incentives towards technology transfer and commercialisation of research, and other reforms including the establishment of a centralised research management agency which has been mooted since the publication of the 11th Malaysia Plan,” it added.


Category: Malaysia

Print This Post

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.