Nuur Faridatun Hasanah, a researcher at Badan Riset Dan Inovasi Nasional (BRIN, the National Research and Innovation Agency, is working on a Covid-19 antibody monitoring toolkit. Another BRIN researcher, Nugroho Adi Sasongko, is leading the use of a tool to help audit manufacturing processes for environmental friendliness.
These researchers are part of a crop of BRIN scholars who earned advanced degrees between 2013 and through the Scholarship program between 2013 and 2021 under the Research and Innovation in Science and Technology (RISET) project, which has been supported by the World Bank.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest country, has strived to bolster its stature in the global economy, and has recognized that improving its human resources and national capabilities in science and technology will be critical to accomplishing this. In addition,
The RISET project has helped make this possible by strengthening public research agencies, including Science and Technology Parks and Technology Transfer Offices. Technology Transfer Offices, while relatively new, are intended to make the leap from innovation to application, and are expected to accelerate industrialization of newly invented products.
An example of the way these parks are working is Polewali Mandar Agriculture Techno-Park in West Sulawesi, which focuses on research into generating improved varieties of agricultural products, including rice, soybeans, and fermented rice straw, which is used as cattle feed. The Park also mentors local farmers in how to produce quality tempeh – the traditional Indonesia food made from fermented soybeans -- and increase the economic value of rice straw.
RISET created a cohort of more than 2,600 researchers from public research institutions such as BRIN and the National Standardization Agency, who are now leading or collaborating in research relevant to various economic and social sectors, nationally and internationally. This group has contributed to diversification of economic activities to increase local government revenue and its member have been involved in several flagship projects, including a tsunami early warning system, flight control systems, waste energy power generation, and digital government administration.
In addition, RISET alumni have demonstrated their influence in a range of settings. Researchers have published articles in academic journals and registered patents, such ones for a noise measurement tool calibration system and a smartphone-based earthquake early earning. Some graduates have returned to take roles at BRIN, allowing them to influence the development of science, technology and innovation and to ensure that technical developments are in sync with national priorities. RISET alumni have been appointed as heads of several research and technology centers, addressing issues including sustainable production cycles, food processing research, and applied microbiology, to name a few.
A commitment to improving Indonesia’s science and technology research and application has made these achievements possible. Business models piloted at the Science and Technology Parks and the Technology Transfer Offices and new human resource development approaches have led to systemic reforms, which in turn informed the Law on National Science and Innovation System. One result of these reforms is an executive decision-making online platform, Monev Risbang, that monitors research implementation, research topics, and funding allocations.
Looking ahead, the immediate focus of science, technology, and innovation in Indonesia is likely to focus on green technology and sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. In the longer term, the RISET project has shown what is effective in advancing research and applied science. Key lessons learned:
- Regular networking among stakeholders will increase research collaboration;
- Involving a wide array of stakeholders in funding schemes will ensure that research and innovation is implemented;
- Strong institutional governance will establish a work climate that produces performance; and
- Citizen engagement is essential to realizing the full academic, social, and economic potential of a given project.
Supported by a national strategy, nurturing the scientific and technology innovators of tomorrow, as the RISET project has done, can serve as an important component of Indonesia’s development, paving the way for improved livelihoods and economic growth.