Research Universities' Role As Motivators Of K-Economy

Last update: 12/05/2014

By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin

KUALA LUMPUR -- The 'Media Event RU Success Stories' programme organised by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) recently at its campus in Serdang highlighted many of the inventions and benchmarks set by the local research universities (RU).

The programme also highlighted the talents behind important research and development undertaken by the RUs.

The event among others highlighted the prototype of a mobile breast scanner, the ambitious Serdang biomass town project and the accreditation system to benchmark tourists spots in the country.

All these are researched and developed by brilliant Malaysian minds with the RU serving as the enabler in putting forth their talents and abilities in driving the country's k-Economy and achieving the developed status by 2020. FIVE RUs ENTRUSTED

The five universities recognised as RU in two phases, namely in 2007 and 2010, are UPM, Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Apart from carrying out research independently or through collaboration with local or foreign parties, all the RUs also collaborate with one another in conducting research through a cluster system.

They are also entrusted with the responsibility of establishing collaboration with the private sector in commercialising the research outcomes to generate income.

SAVING RM2 BILLION IN GOVERNMENT FUNDS

While officiating the event, Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh pointed out the testimony for the success of the government's initiative is in the number of PhD students enrolled in local universities.

"Between 2007 and 2012, a total of 3,897 undergraduates who qualified to study overseas chose to study at local universities. This helped the government to save up to RM2 billion".

An investment of RM1.863 billion up to 2011 also saw many successes with an income generation of RM3.608 billion between 2007 and 2012.

"The number of professors within the country also increased to 2,200 with 1,200 of them serving in RUs," he explained adding that the success of the RUs has helped to generate 182,720 high-skilled jobs and RM1.25 billion in revenue from research innovations.

Another critical success is that the RU status has helped to elevate the universities in their international and regional standing.

Among them is UPM that is ranked at the 19th place in UI GreenMetric World University Ranking with its counterpart UM also listed within the 50 best universities in Asia list.

The same ranking listed UKM, USM and UTM as the 10 best universities in South East Asia.

ATTRACTING NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS

"One of the important achievement seen since the establishment of RU is the ability to attract Nobel Laureates to cooperate with our universities, a testimony of the recognition for our universities' capabilities from experts from around the world," said Idris.

The aforementioned Nobel Laureates are Professor Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh, the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2006, and Professor Ryoji Noyori from Japan the Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 2001.

Muhammad Yunus is the founder of the micro-credit bank - Grameen Bank - that provided a life line for millions of pheasants in his country while Ryoji Noyori who made an important discovery of a chemical process is the president of the biggest research organisation in Japan, Riken.

The others are three recipients of Nobel Prize in Medicine and Psychology - Professor David Baltimore (1975), Sir Richard Roberts (1993) and Professor Barry Marshall (2005).

MALAYSIAN RESEARCHERS STAND TALL

Meanwhile, Associate Professor Dr. M. Iqbal Saripan, the man behind the mobile breast scanner told Bernama, being aware that breast cancer is number one killer of women, he felt compelled to come up with a breast scanner that not only provides fast and accurate results but was also easy to carry around.

The mobile feature of the equipment provides greater access to women especially in the rural areas to check their breasts.

The mobile equipment is known as the 'Single Photo Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT)' and uses the nuclear technology to detect cancer cells in the body.

"In this research, we tried to create a mobile SPECT scanner that can be carried around including to rural areas all over the country," he explained.

Meanwhile, Senior Research Executive, for Tourism Planning Research Group (TPRG)) at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Abdullah Lahat said their research has set the service standard benchmark for tourist centres all over the country.

"This is done through accreditation programme like the T-Qual standard implemented in Australia," he said.

HIGHLIGHTING THE RUs ACHIEVEMENTS

Through collaboration among the five RU, five 'Media Event RU Success Stories' programmes have been planned throughout the year.

The first was hosted by UM in February with the theme 'Publications' and UPM's with the theme 'Talent Management' is the second one.

The third will be held in USM, with the theme Research and Development, the fourth in UTM with the theme 'Commericalisation' with UKM being the host of the last series themed Economic and Social Impact.

These programmes are to highlight the successes of the RUs in identifying talents under the sub theme of sustainability, entrepreneurship, environmental issues, food security, and health and well-being.

-- BERNAMA