Public Private Research Network – The Way ForwardChen Wan Lim
There is often the perception of members of academia being disjointed from the industry. Whilst it is the role of academic researchers to develop new theories and to discover new methods of doing things, information sometimes fails to reach the intended industry and hence, be of little benefit in the real working world. This is where the Public Private Research Network (PPRN) was launched by the Malaysian government, spearheaded by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia which aims to breach the technological knowledge gap, increase productivity and strengthen Malaysian economic development through innovation and commercialisation programmes.
The specific objectives for the PPRN are to encourage participation from members of academia to conduct demand driven research and development, to increase the industry efficiency and productivity rates and to foster closer relations between both the public and private industries.
Basically, the PPRN works in three simple steps. Firstly, the industry will make known and describe any technological problems or areas where there is potential for productivity gain. Secondly, the PPRN will connect the industry with the relevant team of researchers/scientists/subject matter experts that can provide a technology or method to solve the problem. Lastly, both the industry and PPRN will co-finance the appropriate development costs.
The two broad areas where the PPRN will focus on are product innovation and process innovation. For product innovation, the PPRN aims to improve or to add value to existing products of the industry to the needs of the market. For process innovation, the PPRN serves to (i) implement new or significantly improve the production process, sourcing components, warehouse, logistics, and delivery method of service; (ii) streamline production to make it more efficient and to make better use of state-of-art technology and to; (iii) scale up production.
There are a few application criteria which need to be fulfilled in order to participate in the PPRN. These criteria are:
- An application is open for all companies registered in Malaysia with annual sales turnover of more than RM50,000.
- Projects need to be technological in nature
- Projects that essentially involve management or marketing solutions will not be considered
- Projects that essentially require the purchase of off-the-shelve solutions will not be considered
- Product/services must be at commercial stage i.e ready in market but may need improvement in term of process or product itself
- No field restriction for projects
- For multinational companies, they must have a majority of Malaysians as shareholders (>51%)
This initiative is beneficial for postgraduate students, specifically in the science and technology area as they will have the opportunity to work and collaborate with industries to develop real-world technology and solutions to solve real-world problems.