I HAD my first brief interaction with the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Ewon Ebin at a press conference on Jan 9. I just wanted to get a sense of what plans the minister had for his portfolio over the next five years.
I may be biased but to me, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation or Mosti is one of the five most important ministries. After all, no nation has ever achieved developed country status without having a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and innovation.
Unfortunately, Ewon did not really give me a strong answer and passed the question to his Secretary-General Rosli Mohamed, who spoke of 2014 being the ‘Year of Commercialisation’ for Mosti as the ministry wanted to see more commercialisation come out from the research and development (R&D) that happens within its agencies.
Rosdi alluded to a separate event that will be held soon on this commercialisation push by the ministry. In fact, borrowing a lexicon from the property sector, he spoke about 2014 being all about ‘Commercialisation, Commercialisation, Commercialisation’ for Mosti.
“We want to help enhance national productivity besides lowering the cost of [doing] business,” he said.
Not all its agencies undertake R&D, for example CyberSecurity Malaysia and the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation, but I got the message that even Mosti now wants to hold its agencies (it has 21), to a higher level of accountability with the money they invest in R&D.
On that accountability note, I also asked Ewon if he could share which of his agencies were not performing, but he chose to say that they were all doing their best while he had to perhaps whip the ones that were lagging.
He declined to share his key performance indicators (KPIs) when I asked, saying that there was a review every three months with the Prime Minister. However, with the big push this year on commercialisation, that must obviously be a key deliverable for him, though we all know that any push for commercialisation will only bear fruit years down the road.
However, I’m left wondering, as Digital News Asia acts as ‘Your Eye On the Tech Ecosystem’, how do or should we measure the new minister’s performance at the end of this year?
Bear in mind that some of the key agencies that help support the tech ecosystem sit under the Ministry of Finance and that Mosti has many agencies that do not play a role in the tech ecosystem — for instance, the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, Sirim Bhd, Department of Chemistry and Malaysian Metreological Department.
Do share your thoughts with me on that front.
Meanwhile, do follow developments with the newly launched Tech Growth Ventures in Silicon Valley. Helmed by three Malaysains who have been living there for over a decade each, this is envisioned to be a US$50-million (RM164-million) growth accelerator and fund.
Hopefully the general partners of this fund succeed in raising the targeted US$50 million, which will create a lot of opportunities for some of the more mature tech companies here.
I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Digital News Asia