Improving Indonesia’s competitiveness is one of the focuses under the administration of President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, which entered its fourth year in 2018. Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education is one of government agencies leading the efforts to enable Indonesia compete at the global level.

Minister for Research, Technology and Higher Education Mohamad Nasir said improving human resources and the culture of innovation-based research are keys to improve Indonesia’s competitiveness. With an excellent human resources, Indonesian workers could be able to compete with their foreign counterparts at the global level.

“The ministry is strengthening research to improve competitiveness … According to the Global Competitiveness Report, under the Jokowi-JK administration Indonesia has improved its ranking to 36th from 41st,” said Nasir during the Merdeka Barat Forum (FMB) press briefing, themed “Building Indonesia with a local competitiveness improvement perspective”. It was held at the East Java provincial secretary office in Surabaya on November 22.

Furthermore, Nasir said now it was the time to transform the country’s economy from a resource-based model to a knowledge-based one. Thus, research and development play a critical role in the creation of innovation. The produce will have added values and, most importantly, must be marketed.

One of the products which have become sources of proud for Indonesia in 2019 is the electric scooter “Gesit” assembled by students from the November 10th Institute of Technology in Surabaya. It has been tested and praised by President Jokowi.

“This scooter can go through 100 kilometers/hour and its speedometer can be linked to smartphones. A mass production of it is scheduled for 2019 at a factory in Sentul, West Java,” said Nasir.

The ministry also works on increasing the access of Indonesians to higher education, in particular through the disbursement of Bidikmisi scholarship, which is an affirmative policy for low-income students.

Indonesia targets to disburse Bidikmisi scholarship to 368,961 students by end 2018. The allocation for East Java is 63,147 students. Until the third quarter of this year, Bidikmisi has been given to 302,764 students nationwide and 47,899 students in East Java in five regions: Surabaya, Madura, Malang, Pacitan and Banyuwangi.

The FMB news conference was also joined by Meliadi Sembiring, secretary of the Cooperative and Middle- and Small-scale Enterprises Ministry; Agus Setyadi, head of defense facility agency at the Defense Ministry; Abdullah Azwar Anas, Banyuwangi regent; and Wahid Wahyudi, undersecretary for economy and development at the East Java provincial secretary.

After attending the FM9 event, Nasir visited Airlangga University. He spoke at a seminar titled “Jokowi-JK administration’s performance after 4 years: improving competitiveness”, which was joined by Mohammad Nasir, Airlangga University rector; students and lecturers of Airlangga University; Suprapto, head of LLDikti Region VII; Widyo Winarso, secretary of LLDikti Region VII; as well as students and leaders of universities across East Java.

Nasir said an innovation-based economy is an important thing to improve the nation’s competitiveness.

“Research sector in Indonesia is too heavy on the supply. It will be better if the industry plays a bigger role to push the research sector to become demand-driven so that the transformation that we hope can happen,” said Nasir.

Moreover, Nasir said research and innovation are keys to the transformation. Thus, the ministry during the past four years has issued several policies to improve the culture of research and innovation at universities, research agencies and the society.

“Every university lecturer has to do research in his or her subject and do the service to his or her community, apart from teaching,” he said.

In his working visit to East Java, Nasir was accompanied by ministry secretary-general Ainun Na’im and ministry’s public cooperation and communication bureau head Nada Marsudi.