MTDC Main Funding Partner For National Technology and Innovation Sandbox Programme
By Digital News Asia December 18, 2020
- Sandbox main goal to reduce manual labor reliance, enhance food security
- Will create rich opportunities for entrepreneurs to use new technologies
The National Technology and Innovation Sandbox Program (NTIS) was officially launched by Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on 19 August 2020. NTIS, an initiative under the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA), was announced in June 2020. Apart from helping to generate the national economy, NTIS also plays a role in helping to launch the use of emerging technology in different sectors in particular in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the launch of this initiative in June 2020 a total of 1,763 companies have registered with NTIS. MTDC received 48 applications for evaluation of the Sandbox Fund. To date, funding of US$5.4 million (RM21.8 million) has been approved for 30 companies.
The programme is led by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) with the support of the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Center (MaGIC), the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC), MIMOS Bhd and Technology Park Malaysia (TPM) in collaboration with Futurise Sdn Bhd as coordinator and facilitator of the implementation of this initiative.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that the main focus of the Sandbox initiative is to accelerate the commercialization of local technology. Sandbox is a platform that can generate high income for Malaysia, turn the nation into a hi-tech country with a mission. Sandbox's main goal is to reduce manual labor reliance and enhance food security and update medical technology.
This is relevant since most of the Sandbox applications are in the medical and agricultural sectors. NTIS will create tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs to use new technologies to optimise the people's well-being. Khairy said this during a session with Idris Jusoh, Felda chairman during the NTIS Felda Mempaga Pilot Project Virtual Launching Ceremony.
MTDC, as the main funding partner of this project, will provide a platform that includes financing for R&D products/technologies/services or local developments from the prototype stage to the commercialization stage.
The objective of this funding programme is to provide financial access for SMEs/startups to develop and implement the validation process for products/technologies/services resulting from R&D or innovation in a regulated environment (sandbox).
MTDC providing four funding schemes
US$24.8 million (RM100 million) allocation under PENJANA has been allocated for technology startups under NTIS. MTDC is providing four funding schemes, namely the Single Site Sandbox, Multisite Sandbox, Commercialization Sandbox and Corporate Sandbox.
Funding in the form of grants would be allocated to the Single Site Sandbox and Multisite Sandbox categories.Commercialization Sandbox is in the form of a grant as well as Convertible Promissory Notes (Convertible Promissory Notes). The financing instrument will be formed between MTDC and the investor in the Corporate Sandbox category together with Investors/Corporate Companies. The amount of funding for each category ranges from RM250,000 to RM4 million depending on the project category.
[RM1 = US$0.24]
Six pilot projects were identified to kick start NTIS which includes the first Malaysian-made delivery robot for hospitals to assist healthcare front liners deliver care to Covid-19 patients; a lightweight robot used in agriculture to increase work efficiency and reduce the number of workers required; an easily scalable semi-ventilator to assist patients with breathing difficulties; a robot to assist recovery of stroke patients and other medical conditions; a drone solution to automate high-precision spraying pesticide; and pick-and-place linear robots for manufacturing industry.
Robots for wet markets and hospitals
Through the NTIS programme, several companies have combined their heads in coming out with solutions for wet markets and hospitals. Markets are always regarded as dirty and wet and the work there to be smelly and backbreaking. Delivery robots will be deployed and tested to assist the transfer of goods between lorries and stalls.
Additionally, power-assisted vehicles will also ply between delivery area and stalls for the transport of merchandise. There will be a robotic-scrubber to ensure the floors are scrubbed clean and smart waste bins will also be placed at the market.
The bins will have sensors that will send signals to the municipal councils when the bins are either full or beginning to smell, so they could be promptly emptied.
The four solutions are hoped to be able to optimise workforce, reduce dependency on foreign workers and upgrade the image of our usual ‘wet’ market to one that is modern, clean and intelligent.
Hospital Tuanku Azizah, (HTA) is a hospital for women and children. The deployment of delivery, scrubbing and telepresence robots will help ease the workload of health workers, minimise the risk of infections as well as add some cheer to the warded patients, especially children.
In the pipeline, local companies and researchers, together with various ministries are in discussion on how robotics, AI and IoT solutions can be sandboxed in other sectors such as agriculture, transport and security
In addition, NTIS also encourages solutions to the country's challenges of combating the Covid-19 pandemic through the Covid-19 rapid aptamer technology that is able to diagnose Covid-19 infections more rapidly with a public university researcher.
Norhalim Yunus, Chief Executive Officer of MTDC, stressed that all entrepreneurs, startups, specifically those participating in Industry 4.0 such as automation, robotics must react positively and rise to the challenges, vision and mission of NTIS. Apart from the desire to place Malaysia on the world stage as a high-tech country, Malaysia also needs to reduce its dependence on foreign products and services.
NTIS also strives to be the main platform for developing the competitiveness of local technology companies in the 4.0 industrial revolution. The NTIS project will drive Malaysia to become a high-income and high-tech nation by enhancing development and access to advanced technology where people will enjoy a high quality of life.
For more information regarding NTIS, please visit the website or email [email protected]