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Date [ 2014-06-26, 05:13 ]

Nowadays, just producing a product is not enough, it has to be friendly to the environment too.

Today Samsung,  Kia and LG are all global household names. Nearly all of us would think these  companies worked themselves into this position. While this may be true to a certain extent, most of us will not know that the South Korean government had a hand in this. Way back in 1886 itself, the government decided the only way for Korea to go  was out of its shores and compete on the international arena. For that to take place they had to be innovative and  so the machinery for this was laid out.

“Which is why we are here today,” said Dr.Mohammad Jamil Sulaiman, Vice President of Research & technology, Innovation Division, Standards and Industrial Research Institute of  Malaysia Berhad(SIRIM). “Malaysia will be helped by South Korea to develop what is now called Eco-Innovation.’

What then is Eco-Innovation? It is any form of innovation that moves towards sustainable development through reducing environmental degradation, while achieving more efficient use of resources.

Though Malaysia started much later than South Korea, implementing strategies around 2005, it has been making  steady progress. This was revealed at the ‘Workshop for ASEM SMEs Eco-Innovation Consulting Project in Malaysia on June 25, 2014 at the main campus of the Asia Pacific University of technology and Innovation in Technology Park Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

Choon Hee Lee, Vice President of ASEM SMEs Eco-Innovation Centre (ASEIC) gave a congratulatory message in which he emphasized his country supported green management, He also said, in addition to Malaysia, ASEIC was also involved in projects in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. He asked for the continued support of ASEM members  so that there would be mutual growth of these projects.

Yang  Berbahagia Dato’ Dr.Mohd Azhar bin Haji Yahaya, Deputy Secretary general (POLICY) Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation  (MOSTI0 informed, “We will see that industry players get full benefits from these programmes. To this end the experts have been brought together to share their knowledge. The aim is to reduce the technological gap and  create eco-products. These are sure to find good markets in Korea and which will then allow our SMEs to expand and with that I now open this workshop.”  

The first speaker was  Aminuddin Mohamad, Manager Business Development Division, Small Medium Enterprises Corporation (SME Corp). He introduced the 1-Innocert. This meant Innovation Certification for Enterprise Rating and Transformation.  It has been adapted  from Korea’s Certification for Innobiz.

He identified ‘innovation’ as the implementation of a NEW or SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED product that is goods or services. It can also include the introduction of a new process, marketing method, business practices, workplace organization or external relations.

A company can be recognized for this and Malaysia will award them a SME Innovation Award and the inaugural awards for 2014 will cover six categories. These are Manufacturing, Services, ICT & Software Development, Engineering and Industrial Design, Biotechnology and Agrotechnology and finally, Green technology. Each winner of each category, stands to win RM200,000.

As of this far for 2014, 86 companies have been awarded 1-Innocert. These companies will enjoy financial faculties such as a 2% rebate a year on loans taken and stamp duty exemption on the loan agreement. They will be able to get assistance from six financial institutions – SME Bank, Bank Pembangunan, EXIM Bank, MISF, Agro Bank and Malaysia Debt Ventures. Already eight I-Innocert  companies have taken financial incentives valued at RM21.8 million.

Another carrot for SMEs is the SME Innovation Awards. Initiated in 2010, last year’s winner was Romstar Group Sdn. Bhd. with a prize money of RM1 million.  This year’s winner was KLSMC Stem cells Sdn Bhd. They do cell regeneration and came to the fore when Datuk Lee Chong Wei went to them for treatment two weeks before the Olympics in London.  He had treatment for his knees and recovered well enough to win the silver.

Jae-Oh Kim, Manager of ASEIC gave an insight into Eco-Innovation Projects. SMEs now face the global threat of fiscal crisis, world climate change, income disparity, unemployment and extreme weather disasters. Eco-Innovation is to diffuse these negative impacts.

South Korea has the unique distinction of going from an aid receiving country to that of giving one. Realising SMEs form 99.2% of all enterprises it set out to strengthen them. It took the lead by taking measures  against global threats. Green growth became a national strategy and decided to take incorporate it as an Asian development model due to regional similarities.

Right now it is concentrating on Malaysia and the Philippines. Preliminary research has been done on Malaysia’s Eco-Innovation supporting environment. It has discovered that Malaysia’s scores for the indicators on green technology possessed and acquired firms, the implementation of environmental regulations and green patents are relatively high. Much of this is due to the government’s Economic Transformation Programme, Government Transformation Programme which are pushing the growth of ec0-innovation. Its strategy to develop SMEs will be the main factor in the future in the development of eco-innovation in the future.

The Korea Environmental Industry& Technology Institute (KEITI) touched on Green Public Procurement in Korea. It gave an idea of its legal and instructional framework,. One of its workings was on direct and indirect purchases and whether a company really needed it. This was called the Green Public Procurement Process (GPP) and its monitoring  and implementation strategies were highlighted.

Dr.Chen Sau Soon, Senior Director of SIRIM explained the importance of Ecodesign and Ecolabel. She said bringing out a product was not enough. It had to be eco-innovative.  For this a product had to be energy efficient reduce greenhouse emission, have no toxic or hazardous substances in-built into its products, have environmental packaging and try using recycled products,

What is developing as a new employment niche is EcoDesign. This is designing for the environment and one aspect is carbon footprint labels.  Already some companies are now doing this. The French have green code information on their products. This is when consumers can check out how much impact the product  is having on the environment. Dr.Chen also informed SIRIM is now able to produce 3D printing so manufacturers can whether their products will have any negative impacts.

Finance is always important in the manufacturing process. Malik Atan, Senior Executive, Smart Partnership, Malaysia Green Technology Corporation informed how this can be attained.Companies in four sectors building, energy, transport, water and waste management had the Prime Minister’s backing in them acquiring finance.  Accordingly the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) with Green Tech Malaysia developed the Green Technology Financing Scheme (GTFS). This was introduced in 2010 and its objective was to promote green investments by providing easy access to financing and at lower rates than commercial banks.

As of May 31, 2014, 135 projects have secured finance amounting to RM1.89 billion. Of these, RM73.8 million has already been disbursed. The biggest recipient of the funds has been the energy sector followed by waste and water management.

Some of the business opportunities now coming on-stream are  rainwater harvesting systems, co-glass panels, biofuels, solar PVs, EV Transportation systems and charging stations for batteries and motors. Bust as local financial institutions are cautious and have limited awareness and exposure to assessing green technology projects, the do not come forward.
K.C Dharma gave a case study on eco-innovation in Korea, he is currently attached to ECOEYE and assess eco-projects. He informed of a company producing cable carriers, flexible tubes and cable track systems. Each sheet ended with a scrap of 3.04 kg per sheet because  it was oversized. This is also ended with an additional cutting process. ECOEYE got the cooperation of raw material supplier and had the guide channel size and height reduced. In this way the balance of scrap was eliminated.

If Malaysia is to progress towards  Eco-Innovation then as Dharma mentioned the idea killers have to be wiped out. Examples are manufacturers stating ‘But we always work this way’ or it is too early to do this.”

Innovation needs to move forward, not stagnate.


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