Creating network of top young Asean scientists (Part 2) / Mewujudkan Rangkaian Tokoh Ahli Sains Muda ASEAN (Bahagian 2)

In fostering Malaysia’s international relations in science, technology and innovation (STI) to expedite our innovation rate, we must not leave out emerging countries such as China and India.

Among the giant foreign investors in Bioeconomy in Malaysia for example, is Biocon Ltd, India’s largest biopharmaceutical company, which entered Malaysia in 2010.

It is currently setting up Asia’s largest integrated insulin manufacturing facility at an investment of over RM 1.33 billion. It would undertake research and development activities, and the commercialisation of drug products.

The company currently employs a team of 500 people, of which 431 are Malaysians, and 355 are knowledge-workers who are now based at the state-of-the-art facility.

To put Malaysia’s bioeconomy value propositions on world stage, one of the focuses of Bioeconomy Corporation has been on international market penetration as guided by the National Biotechnology Policy.

Our target is to produce at least 20 global companies in the bio-based industry in three years’ time.

Besides Asean and other South-South cooperation in STI, we also leverage proven, successful public-private partnership models from the developed world.

The SIRIM-Fraunhofer program, as I have spoken about before, is another excellent example of how international networks in STI can bring a spillover of knowledge and experience to Malaysia.

Germany is one of the most competitive countries in the world in the manufacturing industry, and the German government was quick to roll out a high-tech digitization strategy they termed as “Industrie 4.0”.

SIRIM adopted the German Innovation ecosystem through close cooperation with the Fraunhofer Society for the Advancement of Applied Research, by offering SMEs a chance to upgrade their technology management practices to move up the value chain.

Although our programme is still at a small scale as compared to the 67 institutes and over 24 000 staff in the German Fraunhofer Society, we would benefit from their Industrie 4.0 policy by leveraging their over 60 years of expertise in applied research and their partnership with the industry.

Our young ones are also proactively stepping up in cultivating strong STI social networks with the world.

In February I had a dynamic dialogue with some of the most brilliant young scientists in the country.

The Young Scientists Network-Academy of Sciences Malaysia (YSN-ASM) was established in 2012 to recognise excellent young scientists aged 40 and below from various disciplines of sciences including social science and humanities.

Importantly, members are selected primarily based on the scientific merit of their research and their commitment towards the nation’s STI ecosystem. Members and affiliates of the network represent about 30 institutions that include institutions of higher learning, research institutes and industry.

The Chairperson of YSN-ASM, Dr Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam, who is a scientist from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), explained that they aspire to position young scientists as a strategic partner in driving the country’s STI agenda and in positioning Malaysia as a strategic collaborative partner in the global STI dialogue.

They established several working groups to achieve this, including on science outreach, science education, science communication, science leadership, science integrity, science policy, and science media.

I was most impressed by their collegiality and volunteering spirit in organising various self-initiated projects and activities. Through their outreach initiatives, they reach out to tens of thousands of children and their families annually. We need more of such role models in the sciences who are genuinely passionate about advocating science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem).

Moreover they often do so at the expense of their own time and resources. It is the unbridled passion and belief that one can make a difference that drives this voluntary spirit!

What I found most exciting is that despite contributing significant time and effort to impact the STI ecosystem beyond the confines of their actual job scope, most of these researchers claim that these extra voluntary efforts have actually helped to elevate their own research to higher standards by broadening their worldview, increasing interdisciplinary research collaborations, diversifying their source of research funds and recognizing the right research questions that need to be addressed.

I am proud of our young scientists, who are consistently recognised through various international awards.

For example, Prof. Dr. Lee Keat Teong of Universiti Sains Malaysia was recognised as one of the most cited researchers in the world.

Prof. Dr. Iqbal Saripan of UPM won the University of Surrey Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Award for Research and at least eight women scientists from YSN-ASM have won the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science in recent years.

These are just few of the many success stories that exist within the network. It is a testament that with the right motivation, Malaysian scientists are able to compete at an international level.

At the same time, these young scientists realised that significant progress that our STI ecosystem has made can only be sustained by leveraging international networks to increase scientific capacity and reach.

They actively promote scientific dialogues with international organisations such as the Global Young Academy (GYA) that connects exceptional young scientists from around the globe to empower each other.

Some of GYA’s roles are to help establish National Young Academies around the world, co-organise regional and global conferences, releases statements on science policy and of course, is a proponent of Stem.

Many young Malaysian scientists have represented Malaysia at the world stage in various meetings and dialogues around the world. YSN-ASM participated in the publishing of the Global State of Young Scientists in Asean report, to raise the ‘voice’ of young scientists, calling for evidence-based policies that promote creativity and innovation in the region.

Here I congratulate YSN-ASM for the excellent progress and positive impact they make in just a span of five years.

Their achievements are certainly recognised internationally when this year two YSN-ASM members were elected among the approximately 30 new members the GYA elects annually.

They will be representing Malaysia at the 7th International Conference of Young Scientists and Annual General Meeting in Scotland this May.

In September 2017, I am delighted that the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is supporting YSN-ASM’s collaboration with the GYA to host and organise the Asean Science Leadership programme.

23.4.17 Creating a netwotk of top ASEAN scientists.jpeg
With some of the members of Young Scientists Network, whom I had a dialogue with last February.

Again, in the spirit of “prosper thy neighbours”, we want to create a network of top Asean young scientists and equip these young leaders with a skill set that would enhance regional scientific collaboration and Asean science diplomacy.

As Malaysia aims to champion foresight in Asean, this programme would be held in conjunction with the Asean 2050 Future Forum: The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This is a testament of science for diplomacy!

I am certainly glad that our Malaysian scientific ecosystem has many aspiring young leaders who have an open world view; knowing the importance of multidisciplinary strategic international partnerships in an increasingly connected world. The future belongs to our young ones.

Published today in Daily Express newspaper, also available here

See part one here Prosper thy neighbours (Part 1)

Mewujudkan Rangkaian Tokoh Ahli Sains Muda ASEAN (Bahagian 2)

Dalam usaha untuk memupuk hubungan antarabangsa Malaysia dalam bidang sains, teknologi dan inovasi (STI) bagi mempercepat kadar inovasi kita, kita tidak boleh mengetepikan negara memuncul seperti China dan India.

Contohnya, antara pelabur asing gergasi dalam Bioekonomi di Malaysia ialah syarikat biofarmaseutikal terbesar India, Biocon Ltd yang memasuki Malaysia pada 2010.

Biocon sedang mendirikan kemudahan pembuatan insulin bersepadu yang terbesar di Asia dengan pelaburan melebihi RM1.33 bilion. Ia akan menjalankan aktiviti penyelidikan dan pembangunan serta pengkomersialan produk ubat-ubatan.

Syarikat itu buat masa ini mempunyai sepasukan 500 pekerja, 431 daripadanya rakyat Malaysia dan 355 merupakan pekerja pengetahuan yang kini berpejabat di kemudahan canggih itu.

Bagi mengemukakan saranan nilai (value proposition) bioekonomi Malaysia di pentas dunia, antara fokus Perbadanan Bioekonomi adalah terhadap penembusan pasaran antarabangsa mengikut panduan Dasar Bioteknologi Negara.

Sasaran kita adalah untuk mewujudkan sekurang-kurangnya 20 syarikat global dalam industri berasaskan bioteknologi dalam tempoh tiga tahun.

Selain ASEAN dan kerjasama Selatan-Selatan yang lain dalam STI, kita juga memanfaatkan model perkongsian sektor awam-swasta yang terbukti berjaya dari negara maju.

Program SIRIM-Fraunhofer, seperti yang saya perkatakan sebelum ini, ialah satu lagi contoh terbaik yang menunjukkan bagaimana rangkaian antarabangsa dalam STI boleh membawa limpahan pengetahuan dan pengalaman kepada Malaysia.

Jerman ialah antara negara paling kompetitif di dunia dalam industri pembuatan, dan kerajaan Jerman pantas melancarkan strategi pendigitan teknologi tinggi yang dikenali sebagai “Industrie 4.0”.

SIRIM menerima pakai ekosistem Inovasi Jerman menerusi kerjasama erat dengan Persatuan Fraunhofer bagi Kemajuan Penyelidikan Gunaan, dengan menawarkan peluang kepada PKS untuk menaikkan taraf amalan pengurusan teknologi mereka bagi tujuan menaiki tangga rantaian nilai.

Walaupun program kita masih berskala kecil berbanding dengan 67 institut dan lebih daripada 24,000 kakitangan Persatuan Fraunhofer Jerman, kita akan meraih faedah daripada dasar Industrie 4.0 mereka dengan memanfaatkan kepakaran mereka selama lebih 60 tahun dalam penyelidikan gunaan dan perkongsian mereka dengan industri.

Golongan muda kita juga tampil secara proaktif dalam menjalinkan rangkaian sosial STI yang kukuh dengan dunia.

Pada Februari lalu saya mengadakan dialog yang dinamik dengan sebilangan daripada ahli sains muda paling pintar di negara ini.

Jaringan Saintis Muda-Akademi Sains Malaysia (YSN-ASM) ditubuhkan pada 2012 untuk mengiktiraf ahli sains muda yang cemerlang berumur 40 tahun ke bawah daripada pelbagai disiplin sains termasuk sains sosial dan kemanusiaan.

Yang pentingnya, anggota dipilih terutamanya berdasarkan merit penyelidikan saintifik mereka dan komitmen mereka terhadap ekosistem STI negara. Anggota dan ahli gabungan jaringan itu mewakili kira-kira 30 institusi yang termasuk institusi pengajian tinggi, institut penyelidikan dan industri.

Pengerusi YSN-ASM, Dr. Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam yang juga ahli sains daripada Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) menjelaskan bahawa mereka berhasrat untuk meletakkan ahli sains muda sebagai rakan strategik dalam memacu agenda STI negara dan menampilkan Malaysia sebagai rakan kerjasama strategik dalam dialog STI global.

Mereka mengadakan beberapa kumpulan kerja untuk mencapai matlamat itu, termasuk kumpulan outreach sains, pendidikan sains, komunikasi sains, kepimpinan sains, integriti sains, dasar sains dan media sains.

Saya sangat kagum dengan kesetiakawanan dan semangat sukarelawan mereka dalam menganjurkan pelbagai projek dan aktiviti yang dijalankan dengan inisiatif sendiri. Menerusi inisiatif outreach, mereka mendekati puluhan ribu kanak-kanak dan keluarga mereka setiap tahun. Kita memerlukan lebih banyak model peranan seperti mereka dalam bidang sains, mereka yang benar-benar berminat untuk memajukan STEM.

Tambahan lagi mereka sering kali berbuat demikian dengan menghabiskan masa dan sumber mereka sendiri. Keghairahan luar biasa dan kepercayaan bahawa kita boleh membawa perubahan positif memacu semangat sukarelawan ini!

Perkara yang saya dapati amat menarik ialah, meskipun mereka menyumbangkan banyak masa dan tenaga untuk membawa impak kepada ekosistem STI di luar skop kerja sebenar mereka, kebanyakan penyelidik itu mendakwa usaha sukarelawan tambahan tersebut sebenarnya membantu meningkatkan penyelidikan mereka sendiri ke taraf lebih tinggi. Peningkatan ini berlaku kerana usaha itu dikatakan meluaskan pandangan hidup mereka, meluaskan kerjasama penyelidikan antara disiplin, mempelbagaikan sumber dana penyelidikan mereka dan mengenal pasti persoalan penyelidikan betul yang perlu dijawab.

Saya berbangga dengan ahli sains muda kita yang selalu mendapat pengiktirafan menerusi pelbagai anugerah antarabangsa.

Sebagai contoh, Profesor Dr. Lee Keat Teong dari Universiti Sains Malaysia diiktiraf sebagai salah seorang penyelidik yang paling banyak dirujuk kajiannya di dunia.

Profesor Dr. Iqbal Saripan dari UPM memenangi Anugerah Alumni bagi Penyelidikan daripada Naib Canselor University of Surrey dan sekurang-kurangnya lapan ahli sains wanita daripada YSN-ASM memenangi anugerah L’Oréal-UNESCO bagi Wanita dalam Sains dalam beberapa tahun kebelakangan ini.

Contoh tersebut hanya segelintir daripada banyak kisah kejayaan yang dicapai dalam rangkaian itu. Ini membuktikan bahawa dengan motivasi yang betul, ahli sains Malaysia mampu bersaing pada peringkat antarabangsa.

Pada masa yang sama, ahli sains muda terlibat menyedari bahawa kemajuan besar yang dicapai oleh ekosistem STI kita hanya boleh diteruskan dengan memanfaatkan rangkaian antarabangsa untuk meningkatkan jangkauan dan keupayaan saintifik kita.

Mereka aktif menggalakkan dialog saintifik dengan organisasi antarabangsa seperti Global Young Academy (GYA) yang menghubungkan ahli sains muda cemerlang dari seluruh dunia bagi tujuan memperkasakan satu sama lain.

Antara peranan GYA adalah untuk membantu mewujudkan National Young Academy di serata dunia, menganjurkan persidangan serantau dan global secara bersama, menyiarkan kenyataan tentang dasar sains dan tentunya menjadi penyokong STEM.

Ramai ahli sains muda Malaysia mewakili negara kita di pentas dunia dalam pelbagai mesyuarat dan dialog di seluruh dunia. YSN-ASM turut serta dalam penerbitan laporan “Global State of Young Scientists in ASEAN”, untuk menaikkan ‘suara’ ahli sains muda bagi menuntut dasar berasaskan bukti yang menggalakkan kreativiti dan inovasi di rantau ini.

Di sini saya mengucapkan tahniah kepada YSN-ASM kerana kemajuan hebat dan impak positif yang dicapai oleh mereka dalam tempoh hanya lima tahun.

Pencapaian mereka mendapat pengiktirafan antarabangsa apabila dua anggota YSN-ASM dipilih pada tahun ini dalam kalangan kira-kira 30 anggota baharu yang dipilih oleh GYA setiap tahun.

Mereka akan mewakili Malaysia pada Persidangan Ahli Sains Muda Antarabangsa Ke-7 dan Mesyuarat Agung Tahunan di Scotland pada Mei ini.

Pada September 2017, saya berbesar hati kerana MOSTI menyokong kerjasama YSN-ASM dengan GYA untuk menjadi tuan rumah dan menganjurkan program Kepimpinan Sains ASEAN (ASEAN Science Leadership).

Sekali lagi dengan semangat “makmurkan jiran anda”, kita mahu mewujudkan satu rangkaian tokoh ahli sains muda ASEAN dan melengkapkan para pemimpin muda itu dengan set kemahiran yang akan meningkatkan kerjasama saintifik peringkat serantau dan diplomasi sains ASEAN.

Memandangkan Malaysia mahu memperjuangkan inisiatif berwawasan di ASEAN, program ini akan diadakan bersama dengan Forum Masa Depan 2050 ASEAN: Revolusi Perindustrian Keempat.

Program ini membuktikan peranan sains untuk diplomasi!

Saya tentunya gembira kerana ekosistem saintifik Malaysia melahirkan ramai pemimpin muda yang bercita-cita tinggi dan mempunyai pandangan hidup terbuka; mengetahui pentingnya perkongsian antarabangsa strategik berbilang disiplin di dunia yang makin terjalin erat. Masa depan milik golongan muda kita.

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