Paderborn, Germany 13th July 2022 – Based on a fruitful cooperation for many years between the Fraunhofer-Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design IEM, situated in Paderborn, Germany and the Malaysia Higher Education Institutes, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), a research alliance entitled Research Alliance for Intelligent System in Medical Technology (RAISE-MED) has been formed. The cooperation has gained a trust from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany (BMBF) to award a grant under the Asia Pacific Strategic Partnership to established and build an Innovation Lab in 2018.
Among the countries in Asia Pacific, Malaysia was given a chance to pioneer an innovation lab in collaboration with the Fraunhofer IEM. Two innovationlabs.my was built, each in central region and southern region of Malaysia. One of the labs is in UiTM, the biggest Malaysia public university with over 160,000 students and 18,000 employees. In southern region, the lab is located within the campus of UTHM Batu Pahat. The objective is to establish an ecosystem for academia and industry to collaborate focusing on the field of development and innovation. The facilities of the lab with “Digital Engineering” workplaces, areas for prototyping technologies as well as for workshops and trainings was opened for students, researchers, and industry and launched on the September 2019.
Following the success of the establishment, all tripartite agree to extend the collaboration with a Letter of Intent on Joint Collaboration for Research and Development and the Expansion of innovationlabs.my. The LOI was signed on the July 13, 2022, at the Fraunhofer IEM, Paderborn witnessed by the Dato’ Seri Abdul Razak bin Jaafar, Secretary-General Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE).
The objectives of the innovationlabs.my is to build an innovation ecosystem that can overcome the innovation valley of death that is usually occur at the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale 4 to 6 level. There is an urgency in creating an ecosystem that can bridge this academia – industries to co-create innovation. Fraunhofer IEM on the other hand is an institute for applied R&D that stand between academia – industries in Germany society. Secretary-General of the Ministry of Higher Education remarks in his speech that innovation is important for the economic growth in Malaysia. To drive this, a Fraunhofer model is suitable to be implemented but some adaptation is needed to fit to Malaysia ecosystem.
Professor Dr Mohamad Hariri Abdullah, Deputy Vice Chancellor Industry, Community and Alumni Network (ICAN) UiTM representing Vice Chancellor in the signing ceremony express that, “UiTM plays a good role in creating a good innovation ecosystem to enhance product development cycle within the university and other parties. For these goals, UiTM is empowering this ecosystem with a few initiatives, one of it is Strategic Research Partnership grant.” Strategic Research Partnership (SRP) grant, offered to Malaysia’s small medium enterprises (SME) to collaborate with UiTM researchers. SRP grant is an industry/agency matching grant with one-to-one ratio. The grant help strengthen partnership with industries and agencies and reduce the gap of the valley of death. As of 2022, 16 companies manage to get the grants and doing innovation and development with UiTM academia researchers. The investment is amounted to almost RM 1 million and according to rule of innovation investment from fundamental research to product deployment, this amount will generate a total of up to RM 10 million more funding into the product development from other interested well established investors.
The signing of the LOI is also witnessed by the Vice Chancellor of Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM), Prof Ts Dr Massila Kamalrudin, Vice Chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), Prof. Ts. Dr. Zaliman Sauli and Mr. Karl-Uwe Buetov, Commissioner for ASEAN, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia Germany. On behalf of the Germany State Government, Mr Karl-Uwe Butof express their interest in cooperating with Malaysia government to support research university working with industry for the economic growth of Malaysia.