Steering Tech Transfer in the Innovation Ecosystem

October 1, 2019by Ahmad Razif Mohamad

Just imagine one day, Malaysia, a small country in South East Asia, known as one of the leaders in high technology exports with the latest product and services. Business communities and researchers would come to Malaysia seeking out the latest technology and gadgetry coming out from our shores. YAB Tun Mahathir Mohamad also mentioned a country must ensure the proliferation of knowledge-intensive enterprises that leverage on science and technology in order to take the economy to the next level. Subsequently, many policies were formulated, many organisations were created, and large investments to support YAB Tun’s vision.  However, there are some areas that requires further intervention from the Government to ensure that his vision is on the right track, especially in the realm of technology transfer.

The technology transfer landscape in Malaysia is currently in its developmental phase and is vital towards developing a knowledge-based economy. Many innovations that are being generated at research institutions (RIs) and industry, do not find their way to the market for various reasons.

According to OECD’s study Malaysia Innovation Policy Review 2016, it highlighted many challenges that the university faces which regards to technology transfers ecosystem. Some of the pressing challenges that have been identified are as follows:

1. University-Industry mismatch

Current Scenario: Most solutions created at research organisations mismatched with market need. Industry and universities need to identify and understand the problem before creating the solutions. There is a need to have a strategic national platform to coordinate “match-making” exercise.

MIGHT’s View: All stakeholders must look at this issue beyond just a mere simple collaboration and paper agreements. It needs to be viewed as a symbiotic relationship between industry and academia, or in simple term, they need each other to survive and remain competitive & relevant. Ignoring this issue will create a negative impact of inefficiency and waste for all stakeholders.

MIGHT’s Take: High Priority – Create an Interest Group specific for Tech Transfer ecosystem.

2. Tech transfer professional and technology transfer office

Current Scenario: The Tech Transfer Office (TTOs) in the university is considered as the gateway of getting innovation out to the market place. Hence, there is need to have a dedicated professional that facilitates the movement of technology for industry to uptake and well versed in many areas such as invention disclosure assessment, IPRs, marketing technologies, negotiation of deals, basics of license agreements and spinout company formation.

MIGHT’s View: There is a need to create a new career path for tech transfer professionals. High level policy makers and universities administrators must understand the importance to have dedicated professionals that will manage the movement of innovations, ingenuity and inventions to the marketplace. This responsibility should not be put on the shoulders of the lecturers that are responsible to create future leaders and new research.

MIGHT’s Take: Medium to High Priority – Further discussion with Ministry of Education and Public Service Department

3. Measuring greater impact

Current Scenario: Measurement of successful impact of technology transfer such as the patents filed, spin-out companies created are some of the common variables that is measured. However, there is a need to be deploy a methodology that will measure the true impact of technology transfer and to determine its spill over effects to an economy.  

MIGHT’s View: Government must have a clear definition and policies of tech transfer. We should also look into the socio-economy impact, job creations, and environmental that will highlight the true success story. Budget is getting smaller which will result in lower probably of innovation to make it out to the market place. How will we be able to prioritize projects that has the higher chance to be monetize and commercialize?

MIGHT’s Take: Medium to High Priority – Develop policy intervention and impact matrix.

 

Ahmad Razif Mohamad

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