Injecting soul into R&D to help the ‘bottom billion’
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
While Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) plays a great role in advancing a country’s economic progress, too much focus is being put on commercialisation while the gap between the haves and have-nots is steadily increasing.
Currently about 1.4 billion people around the world are affected by poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and access to healthcare known as the ‘bottom billion’.
To alleviate the challenges faced by similar underprivileged groups known as B40 – the bottom 40 per cent of Malaysian households earning less than RM3,000 a month – there must be a coordinated effort to forge mission-oriented research and development (R&D) that can generate solutions for the challenges faced by the bottom billion.
“For example, we need to increase investment towards generating accessible, reliable and affordable energy and water technologies. If it is accessible and affordable for the poor, it will also benefit the rest us,” said Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) secretary general Datuk Sri Dr. Noorul Ainur Mohd during her speech for the opening of the inaugural Global R&D Leaders and CEOs Forum 2015 organised by Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM), a statutory body under the Ministry of Sciences, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) was held at Kuching from August 5th till 6th.
“To further investigate ways to solve poverty, we need to look at ways to boost economic growth that is equitable and inclusive as well as encourage the growth of new innovative financial mechanism to tackle funding problems. Innovative technologies must be made affordable and accessible to all,” she said.
Themed ‘Injecting souls into R&D’, the forum which was participated by various stakeholders such as policy makers, government ministries and agencies, institution of higher learning, industry and corporate sector as a platform to alleviate the challenges such as poverty, malnutrition and climate changes.
The two-day forum held in Kuching featured five sessions which focused on finding the soul in R&D, leveraging on social innovation and entrepreneurship, co-producing values-based solutions, technology-sharing and sustainable financing and impact investing.
Also present to officiate the forum was the International Association of Universities (IAU), Paris president Tan Sri Datuk (Dr) Dzulkifli Abd Razak FASc, who delivered his keynote address on ‘Injecting Soul into R&D’.
Among other speakers invited to the forum was University of Malaya professor Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman FASc, Martha Tilaar Group founder Dr (H.C) Martha Tilaar, MERCY Malaysia founder Tan Sri Jemilah Mahmood, Ashoka India director Vishnu Swaminathan and Simply Giving chief executive officer Kristopher Rogers.
The forum was supported by Sarawak Convention Bureau, Sarawak State Government, Sarawak Energy Berhad, Sime Darby Plantation Berhad and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).