12/10/2021 04:46 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 -- The government should focus on incentivising public and private firms to undertake more research and development (R&D) in order to facilitate ideas on improving the semiconductor industry in Malaysia, an economist said.

World Bank Group's senior economist, finance competitiveness and innovation, Smita Kuriakose said businesses are now adopting the use of digital technologies and there is a need to have effective industry-research collaboration to increase commercialisation of technology transfer.

"Business expenditure on R&D in Malaysia has been declining based on the latest data we have as of 2018 which is a little problematic, because we would like to see more private sector R&D taking place at the national level.

"What we see is that applied research was done a lot more in 2014 compared with 2018, however, there is a need to increase the applied research so that the commercialisation of the R&D can take place," she said.

Kuriakose said during a panel discussion entitled "Can Malaysia re-invent itself into a global E&E Design and Development Centre?" at the Malaysia National E&E Forum 2021 organised by Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association (MSIA) today.

Kuriakose noted that given Malaysia's aspiration towards a high income nation and efforts to improve the semiconductor sector, the R&D required greater consistency around objectives to encourage long-term strategic planning.

"The role of government is to facilitate the generation of ideas and incentivise researchers to solve the problem for the industry," she said.

In the meantime, Kuriakose said the demand for digital skills are increasing in the country, but critical skills shortage persist in the Malaysian economy as highly skilled labour have been decreasing despite the introduction of national policy on IR4.0.

"As we went through the pandemic, there is a need to look at more frontier skills so that the skilled employees supply in Malaysia is able to meet the demands of the private sector.

"This now becomes even more important given the level of automation and digitisation that has accelerated globally," she added.


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