Sunday, August 18

Malaysia to be at forefront of advances in scence and technology through GSIAC


UNIQUE STRENGTH: Wadhwa alludes to Malaysia having made wonderful progress in developing its economy, infrastructure and in uplifting its people.

NEW YORK: Malaysia will be at the forefront of the next generation of advances in science and technology through the newly set-up Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC).

The council would also help to develop sound policies for innovation, an expert on entrepreneurship and research commercialisation and a columnist for Bloomberg BusinessWeek based here, said recently.

“GSIAC can provide a fresh perspective and help Malaysia’s leaders develop new policies in building an innovation capacity and also bring in international experience in various fields of economy,” Dr Vivek Wadhwa, senior research associate, labour and worklife programme at Harvard Law School, said.

In an interview with Bernama, he alluded to Malaysia having made wonderful progress in developing its economy, infrastructure and in uplifting its people.

“New thinking is needed to take Malaysia to the next level and there are no textbook solutions for that, he said.

Malaysia had unique strengths and GSIAC would bring together experts in different fields of innovation under the auspices of the New York Academy of Science, which had no agenda or bias.

“It is very likely that this group can provide a fresh perspective and help Malaysia’s leaders develop new policies for innovation,” said Wadhwa, who is also the director of research at the Centre
for Entrepreneurship
Commercialisation and Exec in Residence, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University.

When asked why there was a necessity to emphasise on science and innovation when all along Malaysia’s policy has been on science and technology, he said, “Technology is important and Malaysia’s technology sector will undoubtedly benefit from the policies that foster innovation and science.

“The biggest breakthroughs over the last three decades came from personal computing based technologies such as multimedia, the internet and e-commerce, and most recently, from social media.

“The next technology revolution will happen when we combine these new technologies with science,” he said.

As an example, he said, “Genome sequencing, which only became possible a decade ago and which used to cost US$300 million, costs about US$10,000 today (and) within five years, this will cost about US$100.

“Imagine what you can do by combining technology with this science.” On expectations from the just-ended GSIAC meeting, Wadhwa, who is also an advisor to several start-up companies, a columnist for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, a contributor to the popular tech blog TechCrunch and who writes for several international publications, said, “This was an introductory meeting to all GSIAC members to understand Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s goals and objectives besides getting information and learning more.” Meanwhile, chairman of the executive board of Wageningen University and Research Centre Dr A A Dijkhuizen, said GSIAC would help set the right priorities to strengthen the Malaysian economy and bring in lots of international experience in various fields.

“Technology is becoming more important. So, science and innovation in my view is a better indication,” said Dijkhuizen, who is also
an expert in the field of
food, agriculture and palm oil.

Wageningen University and Research Centre is also known as ‘Wageningen UR’, a Dutch world-class public university in the field of agriculture science, located in Wageningen.

The university and research centre trains specialists in life sciences and focuses in researches on scientific, social and commercial problems in the field of life sciences and natural resources.

He said the first GSIAC meeting chaired by Najib helped council members to meet each other and get more precise ideas about what should be the highest priority to start with and what other council members could offer.

“My major inputs are in the areas of food, agriculture and palm oil, how to increase productivity, improve quality and sustainability, besides bio-based, the use of waste products for green energy and chemistry,” he said.

Najib chaired the first GSIAC meeting attended by more than 35 council members, including 25 international members and 10 from Malaysia at the New York Academy of Sciences located at the World Trade Centre 7, downtown Manhattan.

Among dignitaries who attended were US special Science Envoy to South Asia and Southeast Asia Dr Rita Colwell, New York Academy of Sciences president and chief executive officer Ellis Rubistein and Dr Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute and also special advisor to the United Nations’ secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon. — Bernama