The Malaysia Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI), an agency under the country’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), announced Thursday it will be opening a 2,000 square feet MakersLab in May, to ramp up its technology-savvy talent pool and its innovation portfolio, putting Malaysia further along the path to achieve a high-income country status.

The new learning and development centre will offer a spectrum of 4IR focused tools, technologies and technology immersion programmes, aimed at gathering communities for greater experimentation and collaboration in a bid to increase local inventions, MRANTI said in a statement.

“Opportunities in artificial intelligence, automation, electrification, data science, cloud computing and 3D printing are booming! However, many reports show that Malaysia needs more scientists, engineers, technologists to fill critical occupations1 as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era – just as much as we need to up-end our innovation commercialisation rate. While roadshows allow us to reach all corners of Malaysia to fan interest in technology and innovation, a central hub allows for the meeting of minds. This is where ideas for impact are sparked, where thought and tinkering become a thing,” said its Chief Executive Officer Dzuleira Abu Bakar.

Cited KPMG survey, MRANTI said Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur is among top 10 cities in Asia Pacific seen as a leading technology innovation hub.

“We want to maintain our competitive edge. This requires us to cultivate ideas from an early stage, effectively transition and scale them for sustainable impact. As a connector, MRANTI aims to match solutions to problems, MakersLab would be a springboard to cultivate creative and innovative problem-solving skills from within the community,” she said.

Located at MRANTI Park in Bukit Jalil, MRANTI MakersLab will offer innovators, students and hobbyists with quick, affordable and convenient access to tools, equipment, space and knowledge for the rapid prototyping of solutions. It is ideal for sandboxing smaller scale ideas and tinkering of hardware and software in a dedicated space.

“Between April and May, a pop-up makerspace will serve as a prelude to MRANTI’s MakersLab and we invite school students, youth and the STEM community to come over to realise their ideas now. Visits are currently by appointment basis for best maker experience,” said Dzuleira.

Dzuleira explained that MRANTI’s MakersLab adds to the suite of MRANTI Park’s 686 acre integrated facilities for end-to-end research, development, commercialisation and innovation (R&D&C&I) services.

MRANTI Park currently hosts five Living Labs for dronetech, unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAV), 5G, BioScience (Agriculture, Healthcare, Bioindustry), and 4IR technologies – ideal for stress-testing innovations in a closed environment. From here, viable products and solutions can be brought on to real-world test beds including the National Technology & Innovation Sandbox sites for live environment testing, and further, primed for industrial-scale contract manufacturing, consulting and a host of go-to-market programmes at MRANTI Engineering and MRANTI Nexus facilities.

“Ultimately we want to increase the R&D commercial output of local innovations,” said Dzuleira.

At the MRANTI’s World Engineering Day launch recently, Dzuleira shared that one of the key measures for Malaysia to achieve the high tech nation status is having a 1 to 100 engineer to population ratio. According to the Board of Engineers, Malaysia (BEM), the engineer to population ratio for Malaysia is 1:174.

“There is a high demand for engineers and the skills gap in engineering will negatively affect areas of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in terms of clean energy, sustainable cities and climate action,” said Dzuleira.

“At MRANTI’s MakersLab, we want to foster a culture of learning-by-doing, innovation, hands-on exploration here – where the community can be involved in the shaping of world-class Malaysian-made inventions which could someday be applied to address critical societal and planetary issues,” she said.

MRANTI’s World Engineering Day celebration, in collaboration with BEM, the Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM), and STEM4ALL Makerspace, drew in over 500 students, educators, innovators and technology enthusiasts. Over two days, events and activities included a series of talks, forums, competitions, exhibitions and design workshops themed Build Back Wiser – Engineering The Future. MRANTI’s community, corporate, academia and research outreach engagement sessions are aimed at strengthening collaboration within the innovation ecosystem.

MRANTI is the one-stop research commercialisation agency with the resources to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative ideas that will drive impact. As a connector, collaborator and catalyst, it connects problem statements (demand) with solutions (supply), bridging collaboration between public and private sectors (transition); increase private sector participation, either through market access, investment, advisory or consultation and facilities for testing and prototyping.

Malaysia needs “big innovation purpose” to stay ahead, says its government agency MRANTI