Alif Rosehaizad
February 16, 2022

NTIS: One year of accelerating local innovations

It has been over a year since the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS), an initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) was launched as part of the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA). Recently, Dato' Sri Dr. Adham Baba, Minister of MOSTI presented the NTIS One Year Report 2020 – 2021 which highlights the latest achievements and developments on NTIS.

NTIS is a platform that allows eligible researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs to test their products and services in a live environment and qualify for grants to bring those products and services to market. From the one year report NTIS has received a total of 518 complete applications, of which 139 companies were approved between August 2020 and July 2021. A total of RM52.78 million has been approved by NTIS to fund 70 companies to develop innovation through the main funding partner, the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC). Meanwhile, 69 other companies received technical, regulatory and test site support or were referred to other funding organizations that have strategic partnerships with NTIS.

Based on the 2021 Global Innovation Index, Malaysia is ranked 3rd after Bulgaria and China as the most innovative country among the top middle income category. It is an incredible achievement and by ramping up the development of innovative solutions and accelerating local commercialisation with regulatory and funding support, Malaysia will be able to soar in the high-tech industry.

“NTIS was launched with a mission to encourage the development of ideas on solving the economic, logistical and societal problems in our country with an approach that can lead Malaysia towards a country that develops and produces high technology,” said Dzuleira Abu Bakar, Chief Executive Officer of Technology Park Malaysia (TPM). TPM is a member of the NTIS Secretariat.

Accelerating the path to commercialization with NTIS

In the past, the journey from idea to commercialisation would see startups engaging individual players to translate their ideas into viable products such as R&D, regulation, funding, and market access agencies. What the NTIS does is bring the right people together to clear the bottlenecks for high potential startups to reach commercialisation.

50 percent of the approved NTIS projects are designed to serve the Medical and Health, Agriculture and Forestry as well as  Smart Engineering and Manufacturing sectors.

Engaging the Ecosystem

Advancing a nation is not a one-man task. It takes strong partnerships and working hand-in-hand to build a strong ecosystem.

The commitment of 26 Ministries, 2 government agencies and 26 Innovation Acceleration Network (IAN) partners such as Microsoft, Air Asia, Maxis and others, enculturate innovation within our society, leading to a multiplier effect.

The Minister also commend the NTIS Secretariat, in particular the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), TPM, the National Applied R&D Centre (MIMOS), and Futurise, as well as the MTDC, for continuously expediting engagement among the ecosystem stakeholders, setting up a robust Sandbox environment, and facilitating discussions with regulators and site owners, so that the inventions can be safely tested and prototyped for successful commercialisation.

Making Impact Beyond Malaysia

In order to create a groundbreaking international technology, the products have to be able to serve billions of people around Asia Pacific and beyond.

Among the Malaysian technology companies that entered the international market is the Aerodyne Group, which offers drone services and data management in the field of DT3 (Drone Technology, Data Technology and Digital Transformation). Aerodyne Group is currently ranked first in the world based on the Top 40 remote chart sensing companies by Drone Industry Insights 2021. In addition, Biogenes Technologies is also one of the first start-up companies in the world to successfully produce the COVID-19 digital rapid test tool using aptamer technology.

Dzuleira also said that innovation should not be stuck in laboratories or any research institute. It is important to bring in innovations that impact the needs and demands and adopt it through accelerating market entry.

Sandbox Sites

Through the NTIS, four Sandbox test sites have been created across the country such as the Agriculture Sandbox in FELDA Mempaga, Pahang; Robotics and Automation Sandbox in Iskandar Drone and Robotics Zone; Sandbox Logistics for urban delivery drones in Cyberjaya and Area 57 is the first one-stop centre for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV and UAS) innovation at Technology Park Malaysia, Bukit Jalil.

Dato’ Sri Dr. Adham Baba added that the NTIS has unpacked many opportunities in the past 1 year, and is cognisant that we are not just innovating for the sake of innovating. By developing impact-driven solutions and scaling up their commercial value, we can elevate the rakyat’s earning potential through the creation of high-income job opportunities, thus raising the standards of living for Malaysians.

Through commercialisation, innovations can be made more available, affordable and accessible. In line with the rapid development of the ecosystem and the addition of new programs under NTIS, the official NTIS website has also been improved. Let us unite in this vision and unbox a future of infinite possibility.