World Economic Forum & MDEC Announce Collaboration on Drones

  • Objective is to co-design and pilot policy principles & regulatory frameworks
  • Partnership firmly establishes Malaysia as the Heart of Digital ASEAN

(L to R): Justin Wood (Head of Asia Pacific & Member of Executive Committee, World Economic Forum), Surina Shukri (CEO, MDEC),Timothy Reuter (Head of Aerospace and Drones, World Economic Forum).

The World Economic Forum and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) yesterday announced a collaboration to co-design and pilot policy principles and regulatory frameworks to accelerate the societal benefits and mitigate risks from Drone Technology.

MDEC will work specifically with the World Economic Forum’s Aerospace and Drones portfolio to realise the objectives of this collaboration.

"The focus of MDEC’s engagement with the World Economic Forum will be working with Malaysian authorities to develop a policy framework that allows for drone delivery and a potential launch of the first drone delivery service in Southeast Asia. The goal is to create a regulation that can serve as a model for the region and beyond. This partnership firmly establishes Malaysia as the Heart of Digital ASEAN," stressed Surina Shukri, Chief Executive Officer of MDEC.

“Countries that don’t move fast enough to responsibly enable emerging technologies will find themselves at a disadvantage economically. We are excited to partner with MDEC and other key stakeholders in Malaysia to codesign and pilot policy principles associated with drones,” said Timothy Reuter, Head of Aerospace and Drones at the World Economic Forum.

This partnership follows MDEC’s recent 30th Implementation Council Meeting (ICM) that was chaired by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on the 16th of October 2019, which endorsed MDEC’s proposal to launch its Global Testbed Initiative (GTI) with DroneTech as a pilot.

According to the Drone Service Market report, the global drone services market is expected to reach US$63.6 billion by 2025 with the Asia Pacific region projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the period. Malaysia’s home-grown ecosystem players have been growing at an equally rapid pace.

Aerodyne Group, for example, was ranked third globally in a report by Drone Industry Insights in 2019. Aerodyne and other Malaysian home-grown companies such as Poladrone, OFO Tech, Geo Sense and Asia Drone IoT Technologies are at the forefront of the regional and global race for drone powered solutions.

The DroneTech Global Testbed project is aimed at bringing together key industry partners, government agencies, regulators, academia and investors to demonstrate how technology can drive adoption across various industries given a conducive environment for it to operate in.

MDEC, as the lead agency, intends to collaborate with the WEF to leverage on its frameworks and case studies particularly relating the policy development that supports the DroneTech Global Testbed pilot implementation on drone delivery. The success of this pilot would enable Malaysia to accelerate technology adoption, in particular emerging technologies.

With drones already having the ability to increase crop yields, make dangerous jobs safe and act as a lifeline for remote populations, laying the right policy foundation and platforms for industry cooperation, both through smart government regulation and industry-driven standards, will accelerate the adoption of new use cases and business models once the enabling technology and infrastructure are mature.

Longer-term, autonomously piloted systems have the potential to revolutionize how people and goods are transported. In Malaysia’s agriculture sector, for example, application of agriculture technology (also referred to as Ag-Tech) combined with DroneTech can be seen in oil palm plantations and paddy fields. Combined and applied, they help tech-driven planters and farmers monitor and enhance crop productivity as well as generate a more sustainable and viable source of income.

Accelerating the adoption of emerging technologies in traditional industries such as agriculture is aligned to Malaysia’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to uplift the income status as well as the well-being of target groups such as farmers, livestock breeders, fishermen and agro-based entrepreneurs.

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