The National Technology & Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last week is poised to drive the growth of innovation and creativity in the country through catalysing and bringing together various efforts that are already in place, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation said in a press release today.
This would include the digitalisation of services and increasing the commercialisation rate of local products, technologies as well as research and development services.
Being a sandbox, the testing process is more relaxed and conducted in a safe and controlled environment. This will reduce the barrier to entry for products, services, innovations and new discoveries. It will also speed up the testing of new technologies such as those for drone deliveries and self-driving vehicles.
MOSTI, together with Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre, Technology Park Malaysia, Malaysia Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) and Futurise Sdn Bhd, will work closely with regulatory bodies as well as the private sector to coordinate the implementation of the NTIS.
It will involve repurposing MTDC’s Commercialisation of Research and Development Fund to include Industry 4.0 and automation as well as robotics.
Futurise, an agency under the Ministry of Finance together with related regulatory bodies will act as coordinators through the “National Regulatory Sandbox” initiative. It seeks to determine the requirements and qualifications needed to ensure the market success of the innovative products upon the completion of the testing process.
In a separate press release, Futurise CEO Mahadhir Aziz said the agency had been given the mandate by the government to drive the National Regulatory Sandbox, which was launched in 2018, and it is already working with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, various agencies and industry players to test innovations in drones. It has also produced Autonomous Vehicle Trialing Guidelines in Cyberjaya with the Ministry of Transport for testing autonomous vehicles on public roads.
Mosti added that to begin with, the NTIS will be implemented in five different initiatives. The first is the use of autonomous robots for health services (for deliveries and disinfections to reduce Covid-19 transmission) in government hospitals and university hospitals. It will also be implemented in the agricultural sector to optimise the use of fertilisers and insecticides.
The second initiative revolves around artificial intelligence and Internet of Things using technology developed by MIMOS Bhd for video analytics. The third involves high efficiency pick-and-place robots to reduce dependence on foreign workers as well as for hazardous jobs in the manufacturing sector. The pilot project for the robotic application will be done at Muar Furniture Park and Rawang Integrated Industry Park.
During the Covid-19 outbreak, there was a great shortage of ventilation machines due to how expensive each machine was. So the fourth initiative relates to producing reasonably priced ventilators using advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing, locally.
The last initiative involves Malaysian Nuclear Agency’s mutation breeding, which has successfully produced new paddy varieties namely NMR151 and NMR 152. These new variations produce high yield crops, are resistant to corrosion and are able to grow in salt water and in low water conditions.
The varieties have been recognised by the Department of Agriculture. The pilot project for the agricultural sector will be at Medan Chuping Jaya in Perlis.
The four suggested financing schemes covering the scope of Industry 4.0, automation and robotics are single-site sandbox (maximum financing amount of RM250,000 in the form of a full grant), multiple-site sandbox (maximum financing amount of RM500,000 in the form of a partial grant), commercialisation (maximum financing amount of RM4 million in the form of a hybrid fund, grants and convertible promissory notes) and fund-matching with investors or corporations (maximum allocation of RM15 million).