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publication May 28, 2021

Assessing the Effectiveness of Public Research Institutions in Fostering Knowledge Linkages and Transferring Technology in Malaysia

Malaysia’s transition to a more innovation-based growth model has grown in urgency due to declining oil and gas output, buffeted by economic shocks, which have impacted the country’s growth momentum.

Having transformed from an agricultural economy, to one led by manufacturing, Malaysia has started to recognize the importance of productivity-led growth.

Public research organizations (PROs) and universities play a crucial role in the creation and diffusion of new knowledge within the innovation ecosystem.

Moreover, recent national policies which emphasize enhancing research, development and innovation have shown improvements in research publications, patents and industry collaboration.

  • Research and development intensity stood at a high of 1.44 percent of GDP in 2016, though it has recently declined.
  • Corporatized PROs are able to fund research via private funding sources
  • Collaborative research between PROs and private research centers indicate stronger industry-research collaboration
  • Policy efforts have supported reforms and improvements in education, science, technology and innovation capabilities.

However, the commercialization of research and technology transfer activities from PROs to industry have seen little progress. Among the most cited challenges in this regard are:

  • Inconsistent funding, stemming from complex funding mechanisms and budgetary pressures
  • Ineffective implementation of incentives, as career progressions in universities stay largely driven by scientific publications
  • Cultural gaps between industry and research due to mismatched expectations leading to a perceived lack of industry demand for research

To overcome these challenges, the following recommendations can be considered:

  • Improving cross-ministerial coordination among the different ministries and agencies involved in the R&D and innovation landscape
  • Long term strategic planning, and greater consistency around research objectives
  • Systematic efforts towards consistent monitoring and evaluation frameworks across PROs
  • Greater autonomy to encourage strategic decision-making by university research centers
  • Better recognition of the quality of Intellectual Property (IPs) to reward the commercialization efforts of researchers
  • Streamlined management processes to facilitate commercialization activities
  • Strengthening Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) to provide support and enhanced linkages between industries and PROs

·        Facilitating secondment opportunities in PROs and improving platforms of communications between researchers