Najib: Government and private sector collaboration for innovation will be ‘the new normal’

  • Requires ‘a drastic change in mindset’, tasks MaGIC to play a key role
  • Futurise Centre will be main platform with Value Innovation centres in each ministry

Najib: Government and private sector collaboration for innovation will be ‘the new normal’

"THE new normal will be about getting government institutions and regulators working together with corporates and startups in a collaborative environment."

This was the message announced by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak when officiating the Global Entrepreneurship Community (GECommunity) Summit 2017 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Specifically he was referring to the Futurise Centre that was announced in the budget as a platform to accelerate innovation and commercialise products. He reaffirmed that this centre would be led by Cyberview and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), and would be a test-bed and living lab for the development of national regulatory sandboxes. "We need to help entrepreneurs and scientists to better understand the regulatory framework."

Admitting that although regulation can be a major obstacle, Najib was optimistic that handled correctly, it would facilitate the creation of innovative solutions. "It is critical to get it right," he stressed.

Praising the private sector for their ability to collaborate, Najib hopes that the newly created Value Innovation centres in each government ministry would be open to this new way of working with the private sector. "That is all about breaking the culture of silos."

"But this will also require a drastic change in mind-set and I want MaGIC to play a key role in this," he concluded.

Living in uncertain times

"We live in uncertain times," was the wary note that began Najib's keynote speech. "We cannot afford to stand on the side-lines, we must get into the game."

Quoting American entrepreneur Steve Case, the Prime Minister said that Malaysia was now facing the Third Wave of technological innovation, which would begin to penetrate highly regulated sectors such as health, energy, transport and finance. "This is the world of the Internet of Things, and Big Data."

Describing the inaugural GECommunity Summit last year a success, the Prime Minister predicted that of 50 initiatives from the GEC Labs then, 15 projects will generate US$24.5 million (RM100 million) in the next three years.

But there is also concern, as when Mohd Irwan Serigar, the Secretary General of Treasury, who is also the chairman of the summit, mentioned in his speech that innovation should not be disruptive. Clarifying later, he cited the example of Uber, saying that "It's not totally disruptive, it's also constructive if it's improving the transportation system and providing more jobs for the B40 (bottom 40%) group."

He admits that advances such as robotics will displace people of jobs, "but there will be a need for other kinds of jobs, (so) retrain, reskill the workers (to become) more robotic engineers."

"That's why I'm telling the universities, you need to look five, ten years down the road."

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