A garage to boost innovation

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Governments can provide the right incentives and legislation but it cannot make innovation happen. That is clearly the role of the private sector and. But what role does an NGO/association play when it comes to innovation? The Malaysian Association of Creativity & Innovation or MACRI shares its view of what is the key to creating the right ecosystem to encourage this.

The Malaysian Association of Creativity & Innovation (MACRI) came to being when a group of independent innovators decided that they needed a more visible and dynamic platform for their voices and ideas to be heard. Dato’ Ghazi Sheikh, former Senator and an ardent proponent of creativity was elected  to champion their cause. On the onset of MACRI’s establishment it was decided that one of the key objective was for innovators to be heard and helped by the policy makers. The strategy was to work closely with the various Government initiatives, particularly those in the forefront of pushing innovation.

Towards this cause MACRI made dozens of proposals on advocating and infusing creativity into all strata of society. At the same time, other members actively conducted workshops, training programs and advised innovators on their Intellectual Property (IP) rights and also tapping into funds to take their ideas to the next level.

MACRI was well positioned to understand the plight and challenges of self employed innovators because it had many such members who have gone through the mill. To many, it was, and still it, an arduous journey. Fortunately some succeeded and made a name for themselves. They now serve as mentors to budding innovators. Their experiences and  guidance has become one of the strengths of MACRI as an NGO that champions creativity and innovation.

To a small extent MACRI has achieved the objective of creating an innovation ecosystem as we are often included in initiatives by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation or (Mosti), Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia, Agensi Inovasi Malaysia, Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd and the Malaysian Productivity Corporation.

Through their platforms we have the opportunity to conduct innovation programs, pitching innovative ideas and even showcasing accomplished Malaysian innovations. With their patronage, our flagship program, the World Creativity & Innovation Week celebrated in April every year has become an annual event for creative thinkers and innovators to further champion the innovation culture among Malaysians.

As MACRI also takes keen interest in independent innovators, we note that they are probably among the most neglected community within the innovation ecosystem. Therefore when the National Innovation Policy was drafted by the Unit Khas Inovasi Malaysia (UNIK), we took proactively requested for a session to discuss the needs of independent innovators. Around 20 innovators were gathered, who sat for days to come up with ideas and recommendations for creating a better ecosystem for independent innovators such as themselves to succeed. One of the key recommendation was the establishment of an “Innovators Garage”. The “Garage” would serve as base for independent innovators to network, to seek profession assistance on innovation development, to pitch their ideas to investors and to showcase their innovations.

It is worth remembering that Microsoft’s Bill Gates started as an independent innovator in a garage and went on to make billions. We are convinced that policy makers should create a conducive ‘Garage’ that would provide budding innovators a place where they can fix their ideas with the expertise of more seasoned innovators. This ‘Garage’ is a pet project of our innovators and we await anxiously for this to be part of the innovation ecosystem.

Watch how this simple suggestion, once implemented, creates waves in the innovation ecosystem in Malaysia!

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Photo credit: Flickr user Ben Heine

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