THE advancement of research and development (R&D) is important in countries that aim to progress economically.
Recognising this, the Government has made R&D an area of focus in the economic and social development of the country.
The Higher Education Department in the Education Ministry has begun programmes and provided funding for these in order to drive R&D in the country.
Higher Education Department deputy director-general (IPTS sector) Prof Datuk Dr Roziah Omar said higher education institutions play a role in creating new talent through their research programmes.
In order to further spur the research excellence in local higher education institutions, the Malaysia Laboratories for Academia-Business Collaboration (MyLab) and Higher Institution Centre of Excellence (HICoE) programmes were conducted.
The MyLab programme has a focus on four research areas — nanotechnology, biotechnology, aerospace and automotive technology — and they have received an RM17mil grant from the Education Ministry.
Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the ministry had so far invested RM43mil in the first phase of the HICoE programme and has received a return of RM59mil in the form of new talent, publication and research innovation.
“Through emphasis on R&D, there have been more papers published (written by local researchers), which will lead to more citations.
“There will also be development of new products,” said Idris after the ceremony.
He added that in a time period of five years (2007- 2012), there has been a 310% increase of papers published in international peer-reviewed journals.
“This is the highest increase in the world,” he said.
He recognised the achievement of four Malaysian scientists who were in the top 1% of researchers whose papers were cited.
As a result of the frequency with which they were referenced, they were also listed in the Thomson Reuters' The World’s Most Influential Minds 2014 report.
They are Prof Dr Abdul Latif Ahmad and Prof Dr Bassim H. Hameed from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Prof Dr Ishak Hashim from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Prof Dr Saidur Rahman from Universiti Malaya.
Also present at the ceremony were MyLAB board of governors chairman Prof Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid and Education Ministry secretary-general II Prof Datuk Seri Dr Zaini Ujang.