The 33rd ASM IdeaXchange was held on 26 June 2020 with the title Structural Changes in the Global Economy: Building an Agile and Resilient Malaysian Science, Technology, Innovation, and Economy (STIE) Ecosystem.
The session featured Professor Dr Mahendhiran Sanggaran Nair FASc, ASM Fellow and Vice President of Research & Development at Monash University Malaysia and was moderated by ASM Vice President YM Tengku Datuk Dr. Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen Tengku Ibrahim FASc.
First, Professor Mahendhiran touched upon the key drivers of structural breaks/changes in the global economy. Under this topic, Professor Mahendhiran showed a strong correlation between possessing a science, technology, and innovation (STI) ecosystem and the wealth ( measured in gross domestic product, or GDP per capita) of a country. He emphasised the importance of creating a framework that bridges STI and economic development.
Professor Mahendhiran’s presentation then centred upon the role of STIE in the current COVID-19 pandemic situation. He showed that a strong STI ecosystem greatly benefits the overall healthcare of countries. In turn, a robust healthcare impact has a positive effect on a country’s economic impact. His presentation also showed that an STIE ecosystem enables a country to not make trade-offs between livelihood and saving lives during a state of health emergency such as the COVID-9 pandemic; instead, it could become a trade-benefit where both the economy and public health can both be pursued equally.
The COVID-19 pandemic should also serve as a reminder for the importance of an agile and resilient STIE ecosystem. The pandemic has significantly shifted the growth trajectory of countries like Malaysia. To return to the original growth trajectory, Malaysia needs to ramp up the STIE and healthcare ecosystem. If Malaysia is unable to develop STIE quickly enough, the economy will not be able to cope with future pandemics and other global shocks, and hence lose global competitiveness.
Professor Mahendhiran stated that Malaysia needs a systematic and focused STIE policy framework to drive sustainable socioeconomic development in response to an increasingly challenging global economy. The 10-10 STIE framework that he proposed will enable the country to build a vibrant and agile National STI Ecosystem.
In conclusion, Professor Mahendhiran also reminded us that investing in our STIE ecosystem enables the country to respond well to future pandemics and market volatilities. The investment needs to be focused and targeted as well to ensure we retain and increase our regional and global competitiveness and become a RM3 trillion economy by 2030-2032.