The challenges facing Malaysian innovation policymakers
Encouraging cross-sector collaboration
Efforts to align science, technology and innovation players from the public and private sector have been relatively uncoordinated; this then limits the impact of policies and strategies.
There appears to be an element of competitiveness among the various agencies around who should take the lead to align and oversee science, technology and innovation initiatives; there is not enough involvement from the private sector in innovation.
There is uncertainty around boundaries and roles across the various ministries and government agencies; many have overlapping responsibilities, resulting in duplication of effort, and sometimes oversight on certain issues.
Availability does not always equal access
While a significant amount of funding is available, access to funding proves challenging, especially for SMEs.
The number of agencies involved creates overlap and competition in disbursing funding – 15 ministries and 55 agencies have funds for research, development, commercialisation and innovation.
Funding opportunities for commercialisation are not equally distributed between urban and rural areas. In 2013, while the volume of capital had increased, the number of deals had not.
Finally, most available funds are geared toward early-stage investment and there is a gap in Series A to C funding:
- A (to further optimise the user base and product offerings)
- B (to grow the company, expand the market, and talent acquisition)
- C (to develop new products, expand into new markets, or even acquire other companies).
Impressive work on digital infrastructure, but regional inequalities
Extensive attention has been devoted to developing a connected population; this has resulted in 77.9 per cent household broadband penetration, with 28 million mobile broadband subscriptions.
However, there is a discrepancy in distribution of broadband or internet access, with poorer penetration (hovering around 50-60 per cent) on the east coast of the Malaysian peninsula and East Malaysia.