JAKARTA – The administration of President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla – which concluded its fourth year in office recently – has put an emphasis in transforming the state’s resource-based economy into a knowledge-based one. Research and innovation, it has been stated, are keys to the transformation. That is why the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education during the past four year has introduced various policies aimed at improving the culture of research and innovation in higher education agencies, science institutions and the society in general.

Speaking at the West Merdeka Forum held in the State Secretary building in Jakarta, October 24, Minister for Research, Technology and Higher Education Mohamad Nasir said research and innovation sector in Indonesia had significantly improved. This is showed by the growing number of startup companies in Indonesia that are managed by the ministry and the improving performance of the country’s scientific publication at international level.

Nasir said the ministry had various programs to nurture entrepreneurs and improve innovation in universities and the society. These programs are the technology-based startup program (PBBT) and the promising technology-based startup program (CPPBT). The former uses seed-funding mechanism to help participants through a business incubation agency, thus they could become profitable and sustainable in the future. As for the second, the CPPBT, it is basically a funding program that uses incentive scheme for lecturers, students and combination of the two through research and development agencies.

“Through the PPBT and CPPBT, we could see an increase of startups and potential startups in Indonesia on a yearly basis. We had 52 of them in 2015 and this year we already have 956. We are hoping to increase the number to more than 1,000 in 2019,” said Nasir.

In an effort to support startup development in Indonesia, the ministry annually holds the Indonesian Innovator for Innovation Expo (I3E). This event aims to promote locally-crafted innovation to a wide public. This year, the event was held between October 25 and 28 in Yogyakarta and was joined by 261 technology-based startup firms.

Nasir said innovation is crucial to increase added values of any products. The presence of startup firms, particularly those that base on technology, is important to move the economy and to improve the nation’s competitiveness.

“Ministry-managed startups created products that cater to the needs of industry and market. For instance, the Magic Ring product, which saves gasoline and improves vehicle machine performance. There is also the flat plate vessel, a steel-made boat that could save 30 percent of production period and save 25 percent of cost compared to fiber-made or wooden ships,” said Nasir.

Nasir said innovation would not be present without research and development. Through a number of policies from the ministry, there has been a major increase in terms of Indonesia’s scientific publication at international level.

“Our international scientific publication has greatly improved, quantity-wise. Latest data on October 10 show our figure has reached 20,610, number two in ASEAN region under Malaysia’s 22,070 papers,” said Nasir.

Nasir gave a special note to the innovation strengthening activities, pointing to the development of Gesit scooter. Nasir said the electric scooter could be produced and marketed soon.

“The Gesit scooter is ready for a mass production and marketing. We plan to introduce it in December 2018. This is a pioneering brand, Indonesia’s first-ever locally-produced electric scooter. Some 88 percent of the components is sourced locally,” said Nasir.

At the press briefing, Nasir was joined by ministry secretary-general Ainun Na’im and ministry cooperation and communication bureau head Nada Marsudi. Officials who were also present at the event included Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy, Cooperative, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Minister Anak Agung Gede Ngurah Puspayoga, Asian Para Games organizing committee chairman Raja Sapta Oktohari. Member of presidential expert staff Adita Irawati served as moderator.