SUPPORTING INNOVATION

Malaysia 2017 | INDUSTRY & HIGH TECHNOLOGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Datuk Dr. Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman, President & CEO of Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), on how to incorporate innovation into traditional fields of expertise and the importance of partnership in encouraging fresh ideas.

Datuk Dr. Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman
BIOGRAPHY
Datuk Dr. Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman is President & CEO of MIGHT, an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department. MIGHT is a PPP platform focused on harnessing technology for business. He holds a PhD from Universiti Teknikal Melaka Malaysia (UTEM) and an MSc from the University of Wales, UK. He is currently the Chairman of MIGHT Technology Nurturing (MTN) and a few technology-related organizations including A-Bio, Putra Eco Ventures Inc (PEV), and MyBiomass. He is a member of the Governing Board of the Regional Center for Science and Technology Business Incubator (IRIS), appointed by UNESCO and the Malaysian Foresight Institute (myForesight).

MIGHT is the coordinating government agency for high technology, which is a relatively broad term. What are your focus areas?

In general, we have been involved in developing strategies for the high technology industries since 1993. Currently, we are looking at strengthening existing manufacturing and service industries through the development and implementation of strategies and actions that are aligned to the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPPA) and the ASEAN economic community (AEC). The strategies focused on the four elements of mobility, modularity, security, and sustainability, based on our National Foresight Study in 2010. We have a strong agricultural sector, with rubber and palm oil plantations, but these sectors could be more innovative. We are interested in developing the idea of the plantation of the future that utilizes the Industry 4.0 elements in sciences such as genomics and technology such as autonomous mobility systems and others to replace or improve the productivity of human workers.

Malaysia is a strong regional hub for maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO). What efforts is MIGHT making to attract more investment to this sphere?

There will be about 800 to 900 new aircraft on the market, the majority of which are for Air Asia and Malindo. This means there will be growth in terms of MRO work. New aircrafts are using composite materials, other than the metal aircraft bodies that previously dominated the market. Our MRO companies are excellent at metal works and have to change their activities into maintaining composites. We recently established the Malaysian Center for Composites to support the transition of these companies. We also want to bring that competency and transition into other sectors such as shipbuilding and ship repair, rail transport, and others. We need good industry partners for this that do a lot of R&D. Malaysia is a good strategic location for MRO, since it has a central location in Southeast Asia and a developed workforce of skilled engineers.

How is MIGHT taking the lead in developing innovation in the Malaysian aerospace industry?

The aim of setting up the Aerospace Manufacturing Innovation Center (AMIC) was to bring innovation into the aerospace industry, because like any other industry it can be hard to rely on local companies to create their own innovation ecosystem, as it can be beyond their financial and human resources. Furthermore, when manufacturing from other people's blueprints, there is no room to be innovative, which is why we established AMIC with the help of Rolls Royce and Airbus. One project it is working on is bio-fuel, which may start to be used in the next five years. CTRM is a founding member of AMIC, and AMIC is providing great support to its R&D activities. Furthermore, we support SMEs, planning partnerships, and sharing facilities.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

We are expecting the urbanized population to reach 80% by 2030. That means 80% of the population will be living in Malaysia's four largest cities. These cities need to be properly managed in terms of water, energy, and transportation, for which we are planning a Smart Cities Development for Malaysia. We are looking at how to enhance the standard of living, comfort, and wellbeing of our people in these cities. We believe these smart cities will be crucial for Malaysia in the coming decades. Technology and industry parks will be incorporated into the cities, not the outskirts. Skilled people don't want to live and work in rural areas; they want to have a good quality of life. Technologies like 3D printing will revolutionize and green-up the way manufacturing is done. Smart cities also require excellent infrastructure planning for utilities, water, and electricity, and an intelligent transportation system. This is what we are working on now, and more.