Intellectual Property (IP) rights: Study aid for higher degrees

Abang Johari (third left) officiates at the Sarawak Civil Service Innovation Convention Awards (SCSICA) 2021 ceremony, flanked by Sarawak State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion (second left) and State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar. Photo: JaPen Sarawak

KUCHING: The state government is willing to sponsor scholarships for civil servants who are interested in furthering their studies in Intellectual Property (IP) rights, which is an important component of research and development (R&D).

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said he had requested the State Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to send their lawyers for further education pertaining to IP rights and cybersecurity, adding that this included Masters and PhD programmes.

“I am not saying that other agencies (are not included), this is not only for the AGC. If there are civil servants who are interested in this new discipline, the government will sponsor your scholarship,” he said at the Sarawak Civil Service Innovation Convention Awards (SCSICA) 2021 ceremony here today (Oct 14).

Abang Johari said policies directed at objectives such as the protection of IP rights and the promotion of R&D encouraged innovation and technological change more directly.

He also stressed on the critical role of R&D in the innovation process.

“In order for Sarawak to be an innovative state, it is crucial to enhance its capacity and capability in R&D especially on the innovation process through technological investment to develop transformed processes, products and services.”

He said leveraging on Sarawak’s natural resources, innovation would focus on developing R&D capabilities and commercial applications aligned with biotechnology, digital applications, and renewable energy.

“Innovation ecosystem development such as Bio-industrial Park, Digital Testbed and Living Labs, Bio-Hub Port, and Venture Capital Funds will attract more private sector (parties) to invest in R&D in Sarawak.”

He pointed out that innovation would drive economic growth and could make a difference in addressing urgent development challenges.

“With technological advancement, productivity and the economy can grow. At the heart of this, R&D allows scientists and researchers to develop new knowledge, techniques, and technologies.

“The old economic development model cannot bring Sarawak to the forefront of digital development that the whole world is trying to arrive at. We in Sarawak cannot wait for others to tell us what to do and we cannot wait for help to come our way. We have to decide our own destiny,” he said.

He said in the process of digitalising its economy, Sarawak would first have to strengthen its multimedia and communication infrastructure to allow for high-speed internet.

“It is not easy to connect all places in Sarawak with high-speed internet especially in the mountains and remote places, but we are determined to find ways and means to solve this problem of connectivity,” he assured.

On the role of governments, Abang Johari said governments in many countries directly supported scientific and technical research.

He explained that the primary economic rationale for a government’s role in R&D was that without such intervention, the private market would not adequately supply certain types of research.

“If many people are able to exploit or otherwise benefit from research done by others, then the total or social return to research may be higher on average than the private return to those who bear the costs and risks of innovation.

“As a result, market forces will lead to underinvestment in R&D from society’s perspective, providing a rationale for government intervention,” he said.

He said an efficient innovation policy would address the overall innovation climate while also providing focus towards supporting certain initiatives and sectors to thrive.

“I will focus on one important component of innovation policy – government support for R&D. The effective commercial application of new ideas involves much more than just pure research,” he said.

Abang Johari pointed out that many other factors were relevant, including the extent of market competition, the intellectual property regime, and the availability of financing for innovative enterprises.

“That said, the tendency of the market to supply too little of certain types of R&D provides a rationale for government intervention, and no matter how good the policy environment, big new ideas are often ultimately rooted in well-executed R&D.

“Governments also can support pilot programmes that can reduce not only the level of technical risk but also other commercial and financial risks,” he said.