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Extracted from Malaysian newspaper The Star,
15 April 2008


Mosti to set up ideas bank

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government wants an institution dedicated to the generation of ideas and products in the areas of science and technology.

Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) Datuk Maximus Ongkili said a working group has been set up to establish the National Innovation Foundation.

The foundation could also supplement the Government's efforts to bridge the "digital divide" with help from the private sector.

Cultivating an interest in technology among Malaysians will help bridge the divide that separation between the technology haves and have-nots in this nation, he said last week.

He was speaking at a press conference after launching the PC Fair, an annual computer show organised by the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (Pikom). The National Innovation Foundation (NIF) will be open to anyone who wants knowledge and funding to further develop his or her innovative ideas (into products that can be commercialised or put to other use).

"We even hope to attract those who have no previous experience with technology," said Ongkili. "I am sure these people can be as creative and innovative as their tech-savvy counterparts." NIF will be run by the private sector, namely ICT (information and communications technology) companies, and the Government will only be partly involved in the operations. "It will be similar to the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation, which has a government presence but is mostly driven by the private sector and non-governmental organisations," he said.

He said many ICT companies support the development of the industry in the country but there are too few avenues for them to do so. "And perhaps these avenues are too government-oriented at this time, so that's why I want the NIF management to be a quasi-government set up," said Ongkili. The private sector, he said, should participate in NIF by funding future ideas or by incorporating the foundation's mission into their respective corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. "I am optimistic the private sector will support this move because they will also be able to deduct the expenses of conducting these CSR activities from their annual taxes," he said.

Pikom chaiman David Wong said the association applauds the setting up of NIF because it will help generate more interest in science and technology among Malaysians. "The country needs to spur such interest to get its K-economy (knowledge economy) off the ground, and if there is a mechanism to support innovative ideas, the industry will stand by it," he added.

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