Local firms to be prioritised for govt’s projects

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic credit: sandbox.gov.my

PUTRAJAYA may consider technology solutions developed locally under the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) for government procurements in the future.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said the prime minister (PM) has agreed in principle to his proposal and it would be raised at the Cabinet meeting for further discussion.

“I spoke to the PM and he has agreed in principle for local technology being developed in NTIS to be given preference in government procurement.

“Our PM also emphasised on the importance for the government to provide all the necessary support to local companies from the product development phase until the commercialisation activities stage,” Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters after the launching ceremony of NTIS in Cyberjaya, Selangor, on Wednesday.

Khairy Jamaluddin believes prioritisation for government procurement will assist in the commercialising of these products.

The NTIS, which is aimed at fast-tracking the development and commercialisation of advanced technology projects, is one of the key initiatives announced under the National Economic Recovery Plan.

To date, six pilot projects have been identified as part of NTIS including the first Malaysian-made delivery robot for hospitals to assist healthcare frontliners to deliver care to Covid-19 patients and a lightweight robot used in agriculture to increase work efficiency and reduce the number of workers required.

Other four projects include an easily scalable semi-ventilator to assist patients with breathing difficulties; a robot to assist recovery of stroke patients and other medical conditions; a drone solution to automate high-precision spraying pesticide; and pick-and-place linear robots for the manufacturing industry.

During the launch of NTIS, PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stressed that NTIS is vital to aid the government’s effort in reviving the economy.

“The pandemic has changed our way of life. However, in the new norm, there are opportunities present for the government to study and look into certain sectors that need to be enhanced, and measures that need to be taken to develop the nation and help the rakyat.

“This is our opportunity to accelerate and compete with the best in the world platform,” Muhyiddin said in his keynote address.

The government targets to disburse RM100 million by the end of this year to fast-track the development and commercialisation of advanced technology projects, particularly those with the highest potential to boost key sectors such as healthcares, manufacturing, agriculture, education and travel, as well as tourism.

Khairy Jamaluddin said the government hopes to receive 100 submissions per cohort, with a new cohort every month.

So far, he said 658 submissions have been received and 94 completed applications have been processed for the first cohort.

Khairy Jamaluddin also raised his concerns surrounding the present regulations which may hinder the acceleration of technology growth in the country.

This came after a meeting which he coordinated between the drone industry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) on Tuesday.

“Under the present regulation, there are limitations in terms of the height a drone can fly, as well as its weight, among other things.

“With such things, regulations can be suspended temporarily under the sandbox and CAAM can work towards formulating new regulation so that we can accelerate the drone industry,” Khairy Jamaluddin said.