MRANTI to drive higher “return on ideas”

The Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) is a recently launched agency set up by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI). In a pre-launch event held on November 9, MRANTI laid out its mission to accelerate higher “Return on Ideas” in the area of R&D commercialisation.  According to Dzuleira Abu Bakar, […]

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E27
Fri, 10 Dec 2021 01:00:18 +0000

The Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) is a recently launched agency set up by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI). In a pre-launch event held on November 9, MRANTI laid out its mission to accelerate higher “Return on Ideas” in the area of R&D commercialisation. 

According to Dzuleira Abu Bakar, Group CEO of Technology Park Malaysia (TPM), the overall focus of MRANTI will be to “raise the profile of Malaysia as an innovation hub to attract foreign investment, create more jobs, and ensure that affordable products and solutions are accessible to improve the quality of life for all.”

Dzuleira led the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) as CEO for two years before taking the role as TPM Group CEO in April this year to oversee the consolidation of MaGIC and TPM to the setting-up of MRANTI. 

MRANTI will be positioned as the one-stop agency with the resources to accelerate the commercialisation of ideas and take them to impact. “We want Malaysia to be better positioned to tackle structural issues hampering the progress of the local startup ecosystem such as low commercialisation rate, low expenditures on R&D (GERD), low R&D spend by the private sector, and overlapping of roles between government agencies,” added Dzuleira.

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MRANTI was launched after a task force comprising members from MaGIC and TPM analysed gaps and opportunities within the technology and commercialisation ecosystem in Malaysia and upon engaging with stakeholders across the ecosystem. The task force found that by devising the right support structures and systems, they can unlock synergies between the different agencies and drive faster commercialisation of ready to market technology and innovations developed in Malaysia. 

In setting up MRANTI, the task force studied successful innovation accelerators created in other countries such as A*STAR in Singapore and Innovate UK, as well as several technology parks in the region. While MRANTI will adopt key learnings, they will not try to simply replicate those models wholesale in Malaysia but to localise and improve upon them, Dzuleira explained.

Return on ideas: the MRANTI mandate

Two game-changers have been identified to accelerate technology adoption and innovation in Malaysia: enhancing digital connectivity for inclusive development as well as aligning R&D towards commercialisation, wealth generation, and economic growth. MRANTI is envisioned as a key enabling agency to realise the government policy of accelerating technology adoption and commercialisation. 

In an effort to shape Malaysia’s development into an innovation-driven economy, the introduction of MRANTI will create a technology and innovation launchpad so companies can maximise their Return on Ideas at a quicker rate by implementing better scalable commercial models. “This is itself an innovative concept that will have a great multiplier effect on the Malaysian economy. While the conventional ROI — Return on Investment conveys fiscal yields from capital outlays, Return on Ideas broadly refers to the conversion of knowledge to fiscal earnings,” pointed out Dzuleira.

The premise behind setting up MRANTI is that it will fast-track Malaysia’s innovation ecosystem to become among the world’s best — with diverse industries and a solid foundation rooted in tech and innovation.

This mission, Dzuleira said, will be achieved “by combining developmental expertise with tech infrastructure and services.” Dzuleira added that they will be guided by the “Ideas to Impact” roadmap to help researchers, innovators, and enterprises maximise their Return on Ideas or ROI at a quicker rate.”

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MRANTI will connect problem statements (demand) with solutions (supply), bridging collaboration between public and private sectors and increasing private sector participation. They will accelerate R&D commercialisation through active interventions and by facilitating the participation of academia, industry, government, and society as a whole.

This focus is cemented by Budget 2022 which has allocated RM30 million to transform MRANTI into an Industrial Revolution 4.0 Hub. This hub will act as a centre of excellence and support the innovation ecosystem by developing new technology clusters such as smart manufacturing, biotech, agritech, smart city, green tech and enabling tech clusters (e.g AI, 5G, IoT).

Unlocking synergy between TPM and MaGIC

TPM is the largest and most developed incubator service provider in Malaysia based on a combination of physical incubators and tech infrastructure, while MaGIC has played an important role in cultivating technology startups and innovation ecosystems with a wide range of interventions ranging from capacity-building to social innovation.

“The consolidation of TPM and MaGIC will achieve holistic support for commercialisation as we strive towards achieving the larger goal of becoming a high-tech and high-income nation,” remarked Dzuleira.

While TPM has already incubated entrepreneurs in robotics, drone tech, and has provided support to tech-driven SMEs, Dzuleira believes that “TPM has much more to offer to the tech start-up ecosystem, and I’ve been tasked to unlock the potential and value of this organisation through a transformation programme. We are in that transformation process, we are looking at the areas of strengths and weaknesses that the local ecosystem and infrastructure have.”

At an operational level, TPM is a large entity with a complex structure. Over the years, TPM investments towards creating world-class infrastructure and a comprehensive ecosystem for tech-driven businesses have totalled over RM1 billion. 

TPM has provided a platform to large tech industry enterprise players such as ASTRO, Standard Chartered Global Business Services, Iris Technologies, Oppstar Technology, Vivantis Technologies, Solution Group and Solidify Technology. 

Moving forward, TPM — soon MRANTI, is looking at attracting more top technology companies as anchor tenants and plans are in place to build an artificial intelligence (AI) Park along with an integrated AI ecosystem. 

A recent KPMG study placed Kuala Lumpur in the Top 10 cities with destination potential for innovation hubs. The announced plans on the AI Park will give the city a lift in demonstrating its capabilities as an innovation centre. “There will be a lot more technology development within the MRANTI Park located in Bukit Jalil as we turn the corner to increase our revenue base,” expressed Dzuleira.

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MRANTI Park has a lot of potential waiting to be unlocked. Firstly, they hold 686 acres of prime land within proximity to KL city. The designated 300 acres of land area in a prime area of Kuala Lumpur has been plotted for the iconic AI Park that will drive acceleration and adoption of AI in Malaysia, which still lags behind the region. “There is a huge opportunity for AI to flourish in Malaysia with the government also truly invested in the idea that AI holds the key to the nation’s growth in the future,” Dzuleira added. 

“In addition, the commercial zones will be activated to infuse the elements of lifestyle, learning and business. Ultimately, MRANTI Park will be redesigned to make high potential R&D and early technology products economically viable through holistic and comprehensive commercialisation support.”

MRANTI targets and goals

MRANTI is tasked with leading the implementation of the policies announced by the Malaysian government under the RMK-12 framework. Some of the ambitious plans that have been announced by the agency are as follows:

  • Upgrade MRANTI Park into an International Innovation Hub: The aim is to impact 5,000 technopreneurs and develop 15 intellectual properties in 2022
  • MRANTI will play host to the first Artificial Intelligence Park in Malaysia
  • Commercialise 500 products/solutions through the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) and Malaysia Commercialisation Year (MCY)
  • Drone Development Zone: Area 57, a five-acre land bank has been identified to develop a centre of excellence in drone development

Developing the remaining MRANTI land plans include building an innovation zone for technology testing, validation, and incubation, all of which are part of the NTIS platform. “Ultimately, the park will be redesigned to make high potential R&D and early technology products economically viable through holistic and comprehensive commercialisation support,” said Dzuleira.

As many as 26 Ministries, 19 government agencies and 19 Innovation Acceleration Networks have committed to participating as partners in this programme. Dzuleira feels this will give a huge boost to encouraging the culture of innovation in Malaysian society and lead to a multiplier effect on the overall economy.

With Malaysia’s RMK-12 Policy Enabler goal, targets are set for MRANTI to accelerate technology adoption and innovation in the following:

  • Increasing the share of gross domestic expenditure on R&D to 2.5% of the GDP
  • Increasing the share of 70% business enterprise expenditure on R&D (BERD) to GERD
  • Position Malaysia as one of the top 20 countries in the Global Innovation Index 

Based on their mantra of taking innovation forward, MRANTI ultimately hopes to accelerate innovation so Malaysia quickly develops into a high-income, high-tech nation.

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This article is produced by the e27 team, sponsored by MaGIC

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