The challenges facing Indonesian innovation policymakers
Lack of coordination and agreement among innovation policymakers
Coordination between policymakers, especially at senior levels, is still a challenge in the innovation policymaking process. There are different perspectives on innovation priorities across stakeholders, even within government. Additionally, collaboration between policymakers is often hampered by the pursuit of individual interests as opposed to coordinated action.
A knowledge gap between levels of government
Senior policymakers sometimes feel that there is a knowledge gap between them and their junior colleagues. This can make it harder to implement a particular vision for those in administrative and more junior positions.
“Policymakers here are very good at planning or making policies, but not good at implementing those.”
Incoherent support for national products
Indonesia has a very large market for goods and services but policies for supporting the development of national products and innovation are incoherent.
“The Indonesian market is big, but we are not on the same page in terms of supporting our national products. We are not very supportive.”
Major challenges in the research funding system in Indonesia
The allocation of research funds need to be better coordinated. The total amount of research funding is 0.2 per cent of GDP. There are inadequate policies and regulations enforcing research fund mechanisms. Research funding schemes need to be more flexible in design and disbursement.
There is a highly fragmented R&D and innovation governance structure, with few attempts at overall coordination until relatively recently. The National Innovation Committee (KIN) was established in 2010 to oversee and coordinate developments across the national innovation system, but was dissolved in 2014. Later in 2015, the DG Strengthening Innovation under Ristekdikti was established.
Its mandate is to strengthen and focus government policy on innovation-related growth and improve overall coordination of government R&D and innovation policies.
Complex bureaucracy and corruption
Bureaucracy is still perceived as highly inefficient. Coupled with high levels of corruption, this makes the formation of businesses challenging.
“Complex bureaucracy is exhausting and non-productive.”
S&T and R&D experts are concentrated in the public sector
There has been insufficient attention paid to developing the expertise necessary for innovation, with a low number of researchers and scientists. In 2009, Indonesia only had 89 researchers in R&D per million people (compared to 329 in Thailand and 1073 in Malaysia the same year). Expertise in S&T and R&D is concentrated primarily in the public sector.
Constrained thinking in the public sector
STI policymakers are mostly from hard science and engineering backgrounds. A multidisciplinary approach would increase the capacity of the public sector to provide novel solutions to inherently complex problems.
A culture of innovation is not widely promoted
The number of entrepreneurs in Indonesia is very low, partly linked to a lack of publicity around business success stories. Additionally, companies in Indonesia prefer trading over STI-focused activities such as R&D
Missing infrastructure in certain regions
There are still regions with underdeveloped infrastructure, including ICT. Without this infrastructure it will be very hard to develop an environment that fosters innovation.