Harnessing latest tech crucial for SMEs

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should leverage their expertise in research and development (R&D) to harness the latest technologies via close collaboration with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.

Its minister Chang Lih Kang said such cooperation will enhance the capabilities of the SMEs while accelerating the country towards becoming a high-tech nation.

“Many multinational corporations in semiconductor operations are transitioning towards integrated manufacturing centres, amalgamating manufacturing with R&D, product design, marketing and distribution.

“But local SMEs were lagging behind larger corporations in technological advancement, as such it was crucial to bridge the gap to propel the industry forward.

“In order to fully support the SMEs, many incentives and funding have been offered to enable R&D activities such as experimental development, as well as testing programmes to meet technology and product requirement standards.

“We aim to achieve 250 new technologies and product development to be eventually commercialised in the market,” he said during his keynote speech at Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association (MSIA) SME Conference 2024, here, yesterday.

Chang added the ministry has product development initiatives to ensure successful execution of new technologies and product commercialisation.

These initiatives are designed to address the unique needs and challenges faced by SME businesses by empowering them to leverage on science, technology and innovation for growth and sustainability, he added.

As such, Chang said the Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems, with its R&D centre, can drive new capabilities in the upstream sector of the country’s semiconductor industry while continuing to advance capabilities in the downstream sector.

“Through strategic initiatives and incentives, we aim to equip SMEs with the tools and resources necessary to innovate, compete, and succeed in the global arena.

“SMEs can then elevate their position in the economic chain by embracing technological advancements, thus contributing more significantly to the nation’s prosperity,” Chang said.

MSIA president Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai said that SMEs are the backbone of the country’s economy.

As such, it must embrace innovation to capitalise on emerging opportunities, address market challenges, meet customer expectations and achieve sustainable growth.

“Malaysia’s SMEs are faced with the challenge to be competitive at the global level. Innovation would be the pathway to growth for SMEs.

“In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and dynamic market conditions, innovation is not merely a choice but a necessity for survival and success

“That is why it is important to discuss and assess Malaysia’s SMEs in terms of innovation and competitiveness relative to our international counterparts during the conference,” he said.

Wong also spoke about the significance of Malaysia being the hub for electrical and electronics (E&E) and semiconductor.

He said the E&E industry has long been a driving force behind Malaysia’s economic development, contributing significantly to gross domestic product growth, investments, export earnings and employment, but needed nurturing to ensure a robust growth.

“Over the past 50 years, the country has expanded from a mere assembly test. We need to continue to nurture these companies, especially those in assembly tests and automation to be global champions.

“This will further strengthen Malaysia’s position in the global semiconductor landscape,” Wong said.

The E&E products export value amounted to RM593bil in 2022, exceeding the 12th Malaysia Plan’s (12MP) 2022 target of RM495bil. The sector’s added value reached RM113.2bil in 2022 against RM86.1bil at the commencement of the 12MP.

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