The innovation ecosystem in Brunei Darussalam is still at an early stage compared to the rest of the region but it has much potential. The Sultanate ranked number 71 among 131 countries on the Global Innovation Index as listed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Global Innovation.
This was highlighted by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah during his keynote address at the launch of Brunei Innovation Lab (BIL) yesterday.
To accelerate the development of innovation and nurture technopreneurship amongst locals, he hoped that the BIL will provide the required support which extends to mentorship in specialised information technology (IT) skillsets, marketability of the products and services and funding.
Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew who is also the Co-Chair of the Digital Economy Council (DEC) said, “Digitalisation and innovation are fundamentals to a vibrant, abundant and connected socioeconomy. Digitalisation and innovation are at the forefront of long-term economic development across the region and the world. And the road towards digitalisation is one where every economy has a different starting point, so it is paramount that everyone has a vision of where they want to be and a guide on how to get there.”
For Brunei, he noted that the government has published the Digital Economy Masterplan in June 2020, to pursue digital transformation guided by the vision ‘Smart Nation through Digital Transformation’.
The BIL, he added, “represents collaboration between the public and private sectors, which aims to support the vision of the Digital Economy Masterplan and be a catalyst to the development of the ecosystem for digital technology and be the inspiration and centre of growth for the nation’s digital champions and technopreneurs”.
He also hopes that the current and future market players will utilise the BIL as the platform for holistic collaboration with key stakeholders in the industry.
The minister then outlined the three pillars identified under the BIL which are curated showcases and events to excite and inspire innovation. The digital playroom provides the immersive experience with the augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) technology and artificial intelligence (AI) applications, the Innovate Brunei Programme which aims to support the development of start-up and scale technopreneurs to commercialise their products and services; and the Capability Accelerator Programme which comprise of dedicated tech masterclasses to develop awareness and competencies in digitalisation technologies such as AI, robotics and automation as well as blockchain.
To execute the programmes, he said, “BIL is partnering with many ecosystem partners who will lend their expertise in providing technical training and solutions.
“This is in addition to the several established partnerships with nine global and local consultants and advisors to provide dedicated business and technical mentorship to our technopreneurs.”
He added, “As we embark further forward in this fast-paced journey, spin-offs and spill-over effects from digitalisation and innovation can act as a foundation for growth in new sectors such as the green energy transition. Digitalisation and innovation in the country can lower entry barriers to new global technologies.”
More importantly, he stressed that the platform will close the digital gap, by building bridges and opening opportunities for the local technology-based start-ups and micro, small and medium enterprises.
“There is opportunity for digitalisation in all industries and with the help of the Manpower Industry Steering Committee (MISC) ICT, we shall identify the new competencies to ensure local workforce are industry-ready, and future-ready,” said the minister.