Steinbeis Malaysia, an organisation that bridges the gap between businesses and subject matter experts, says it’s ready to help companies get to market quickly whether the issues faced are technical, regulatory or otherwise. JESSIE LIM reports.
WHEN a company starts drawing blanks, that’s when it should turn to Steinbeis Malaysia Foundation to find the right solutions.
Stenbeis Malaysia helps local companies — from SMEs to government-linked companies and multinational corporations — to tap innovative practices, technology and business solutions by linking them to experts and academicians.
Among the services offered are consulting sessions, management solutions, and technical and non-technical solutions. An initiative by the National Innovation Agency of Malaysia (AIM), Steinbeis Malaysia was established in 2014 to bridge the gap between industrialists and subject matter experts. This non-profit organisation is funded by the Government’s Economic Planning Unit.
The Steinbeis model was developed in Germany, and there are currently 50 Steinbeis entities across the globe, with Malaysia being the latest addition. Presently, Steinbeis Malaysia has a database of about 600 academicians, and around 100 experts and freelancers.
Executive director Dr Abdul Reezal Abdul Latif says its panel of experts need to fulfil certain criteria, but the most important factor is that they must have practical experience.
“We receive applications daily, but they need to demonstrate that they have done projects before because then they understand the expectations and urgency when working with clients. We cannot wait for a researcher to propose something that has not been done yet, and using those theories to try to yield results,” he points out.
Compared to their counterparts like Steinbeis Korea which does research and development (R&D), Steinbeis Malaysia is more solutions-based.
“We do short-term consultancy projects, from six to eight months. It’s more of an everyday problem and how to make it better for customers,” Abdul Reezal says.
He adds that there is a minimal fee charged for administration work. Currently, the organisation is carrying out four programmes.
“Through our Medical Devices Certification and Product Registration Programme 2016, we guide and advise SMEs until they get their certification to sell their medical devices in the market.
“This comes following the Medical Device Act, which has been passed by the Parliament, requiring all medical devices manufactured, imported or sold in Malaysia to be registered with the Government.
“The majority of companies are either importers or traders, and they need to have some technical background about the device to register, which they don’t seem to have.
“Manufacturers also need to conform to certain requirements for their plants. We can advise them on what to do before starting out, otherwise they’d have to redo the plant which can be costly,” says Abdul Reezal.
Local SMEs that want to export their food and agriculture products can also look to the Export Readiness Programme.
Steinbeis Malaysia works closely with other agencies like Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim), Exim Bank, and the universities.
“A company isn’t usually 100% ready when it wants to export a product. They would require assistance on the technical and regulatory requirements.
“If they need financing, we bring them to Exim Bank; if it’s networking and partnership, then it will be Matrade.
“The Japanese have been requesting us to export halal products, but they are stringent when it comes to food standards. What we do is bring our experts to analyse the company’s product, report and advise on how best to meet the requirements,” says Abdul Reezal.
Steinbeis Malaysia is also helping those in the palm oil industry looking to acquire the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification, which Abdul Reezal believes will be made mandatory to all palm oil mills or plantations in the near future.
MSPO addresses sustainability in palm oil production and ensures compliance with Malaysian laws and ratified international agreements.
“The big boys have the financial capacity and resources to acquire this cert, but the small and medium plantations might not. This is where we will team up with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board to help them,” he remarks.
Finally, companies that aim to become public-listed, but lack the knowledge and procedures, can look to the recently launched Initial Public Offering (IPO) Readiness Assessment Programme.
SMEs and mid-tier companies will be assessed on areas like financial information, group structure and risk and compliance issues. They will then be informed on the areas which are lacking, and advised on how to address them.
Steinbeis Malaysia also offers management solutions, product testing, co-financing of projects, and technical and non-technical solutions.
Steinbeis Malaysia is working on creating an overarching programme encompassing these four programmes called the Business Transformation Centre. Its aim is to reduce time and cost for companies to enter the market.
“If you’re in pharmaceutical, you need approval from respective bodies like Ministry of Health. If you’re importing raw materials, then you would need the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Rather than these companies go from one agency to the other for the necessary paperwork, which could also take time from six months to a year, they come to us with the relevant documents and we will do it for them,” says Abdul Reezal, adding that they expect to launch it by year-end.
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