Jakarta. Indonesia must increase investment in research and innovation to increase its future competitiveness and tap into its economic potential, British Ambassador Moazzam Malik said during an event in Jakarta last week.
"Indonesia will need to increase investments in research and innovation, while also fostering partnerships between local and international research institutions to increase the quality and capability of Indonesian research," Malik said.
He added that this is crucial for Indonesia to compete in the future, especially because funds dedicated for research and innovation in the country are still relatively scarce.
In Indonesia, the United Kingdom has invested £18 million ($23.6 million) through the Newton Fund program to support researchers until at least 2021.
The Newton Fund promotes economic development and social welfare in developing countries, primarily focusing on strengthening local science and innovation capacity and supporting it by providing access to UK expertise and research facilities.
The investment was matched by £6 million (US$7.8 million) by the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
"This program is not an aid program, but a cooperation […] I believe in working together and succeeding together, and this is one such example. The British government is committed to invest and support Indonesia’s development," Malik said.
The Jakarta Globe spoke to participants of the program, some of whom will be doing research on bio-fuels at one of the world’s most advanced scientific facilities, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford, England.
"This is a privilege for us because Rutherford Appleton are equipped with big facilities that we don’t currently have in Indonesia. We are hoping that through our research, cooperation and collaboration, our ongoing research will improve in quality and be more optimized so that we can further develop them in Indonesia," said Indri Badria Adilina, a LIPI researcher at the institute's research center for chemistry.
Indri and her team will begin her research at Oxford next year, and the program is expected to continue for at least four years.
As for Siti Fariya, a junior lecturer at the Technological Institute Adhi Tama Surabaya (ITATS), the Newton Fund is funding her pursuit to obtain a doctorate degree at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, where she plans to conduct research on ship recycling.
The shipping industry has long played an important role in bolstering the national economy of Indonesia, an archipelago nation.
However, Siti discovered through her research that most ships in Indonesia operate far beyond their age restrictions set by regulators such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
"Ships older than 25 years are generally required to go through recycling. However, Indonesia doesn’t have the appropriate facilities to conduct this yet," Siti said.
At Strathclyde, Siti will conduct research on developing a concept ship recycling yard in Indonesia.