By Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
Pix Courtesy of UKM Press
LANGKAWI, 3 June 2012 – Five Malaysian public universities are participating for the first time in a five-day workshop to sharpen the entrepreneural skills of researchers and scientists developed by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and its partner, Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) of New Jersey, USA.
At the end of the workshop, researchers from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UniMaS), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Universiti Tun Hussien Onn (UTHM), Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMaP) and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) with UKM will be presenting their research projects for possible commercialization before a panel of experts.
UKM Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Wira Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin expressed her satisfaction that the academic staff and researchers from the five universities were attending the workshop here for the first time.
Speaking at the opening of the fourth “UKM-SIT Capacity Building for Innovation and University R&D Commercialisation Experiential Programme 2012 “ workshop at the legendary island of Langkawi, this evening Prof Sharifah Hapsah said entrepreneurship skills can be further honed through such courses as they had yielded results.
She said SIT uses a concept called Technogenesis® which emphasises on technology management, marketing, analysis and improving negotiation skills.
Technogenesis® also makes it necessary for budding entrepreneurs to write business plans and to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists, a pre-requisite in these very competitive times.
The workshop which ends on Friday is attended by university researchers, entrepreneurs and senior executives of government agencies. As part of the workshop the participants will brain-storming ideas on processes of commercialisation of research products.
Officers from the Ministries of Higher Education Ministry and Science, Technology and Innovation as well as The Malaysian Innovation Agency in the Prime Minister's Department are also attending.
The workshop is designed especially for research scientists as well as academics from Business Faculties, civil servants and venture capitalists interested in making technology the bread and butter of their business.
Scientists and researchers who have inventions or innovations which they think have commercial potential will among others discusss how to build business plans for their products.
Researchers and entrepreneurs will be collaborating to better understand the critical processes in the “Research to Marketplace” value chain.
The earlier workshops had resulted in R&D commercialisation as well as the development of an Academic-Entrepreneurship (AE) curriculum, currently being implemented as a compulsory minor in first year students and as pilot modules for second and third year business students in UKM.
Jointly developed by UKM's Innovative and Collaborative Centre (PIK) and SIT, it is believed that it was the first such curriculum implemented in a university.
The objective is to create versatile graduates equipped with the right soft skills and entrepreneurial mindset, who have the ability to create enterprises out of innovation and technological know-how.
Such graduates are critical for the success of Innovation-driven New Economic Model.
As part of the workshop participants are grouped into teams who will then pitch and present their business plans to a team of professional judges consisting of two Technologists/Serial Entrepreneurs from SIT and four representatives from Venture Capital organizations, Malaysian Venture Capital Management Berhad, QuestMark Capital Management Sdn Bhd (based in Hong Kong), Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd (under the Finance Ministry) and MTDC (under Khazanah Holdings Berhad).
Participants are required to use state-of-the-art tools working in small cross-functional teams to create their business plans built on current university technology.
There will be opportunities for the researchers to sharpen their technology management and business plan skills and to know how to ensure their researches have market value by using a market-driven research technique through intensive tutorials by technology management experts and serial entrepreneurs from the United States.
Vice-chancellors from the other four research universities have been invited to attend the selection process.
UKM is now stepping up efforts to encourage innovation culture to bring its research findings to the marketplace for economic growth and wealth creation.
Capacity building for innovation and R&D commercialisation as well as academic-entrepreneurship programme is an integral part of the effort to instill the Innovation Culture on campus.
Being a Research University, UKM has successfully established its own ecosystem, infrastructure and capacity building for innovation and R&D commercialisation.
UKM is keeping abreast with the current landscape and development in which innovation and R&D Commercialisation is one of the prime agenda in contributing to the national economic transformation plan aimed at achieving the status of a developed nation with high income by 2020.
The experiences gained from this workshop will be useful in improving the current Innovation Ecosystem and Policy and practices.
Following the earlier workshops a total of 24 R&D findings were evaluated by the experts resulting in Business Plans and R&D commercialisation projects.
Of the 24 technologies, eleven products have been commercialised through UKM Technology Sdn Bhd while the remaining 13 are in the product development stage (pre-commercialisation) receiving funding supports including from UKM’s Innovation Fund and the Ministry of Higher Education’s Prototype Research Grant Scheme (PRGS).
The first such workshop was a Pilot Project in 2010, including a special programme for deans and university top management.