Jakarta – BRIN Public Relations. Recently, research has become a hot topic for discussion. It is not only about research activities but also the management of research institutions, especially about integration of institutions. This is what the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) has experienced in recently.

BRIN was established under Presidential Regulation Number 78 of 2021, which mandates the integration of all research institutions in Indonesia. The integration of 5 main research entities, namely LIPI, BATAN, LAPAN, BPPT, and the Ministry of Science and Technology /BRIN into BRIN was carried out on 1 September 2021. The subsequent integration of BRIN would be on 16 December 2021 on which, 28 research and development work units (R & D) from Ministries/Institutions (K/L) joined.

This integration suddenly made the public aware of research which had been considered less “sexy” all this time. The question is, after the establishment of BRIN, where will Indonesia’s research and innovation policy head to in the future? Before exploring this matter further, it would be better if we understand the definition of research itself.

Research, citing the definition from the Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia Daring, the official online Dictionary of the Indonesian Language, from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research and Technology, is a systematic, critical, and scientific investigation of an issue to improve knowledge and understanding, obtain new facts, or better interpretation.

BRIN Acting Director of Research, Technology and Innovation Policy Formulation, Dudi Hidayat, shared that in the Indonesian context, research includes research, development, studies, and application (litbangjirap). This context of research, when referring to the Manual Frascati document issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), includes the overall definition of the word Research and Development (R&D).

“Under international definition, research is a systematic activity to produce knowledge, which is then divided into 2; basic and applied knowledge, while development is using this knowledge to be applied to products and systems,” explained Dudi.

In other words, when referring to the above definition, explained Dudi, research (in English) is only translated as R & D. However, in the Indonesian context, when referring to ‘research’, it covers the entire spectrum of R&D, or what we call litbangjirap.

“We more precisely do not distinguish (that definition), but to collect all research, development, studies, and application in one word: research. That is the concept of research,” said Dudi.

This concept of research was then incorporated in Article 48 of Law Number 11 of 2019 concerning the National System of Science and Technology which states that BRIN is formed to carry out Litbangjirap, as well as integrated inventions and innovations.

“The government formed BRIN, which is an acronym for Badan Riset dan Inovasi Nasional or the National Research and Innovation Agency, not Litbangjirap Agency. So implicitly, research includes Litbangjirap,” said Dudi.

The implementation of this law was then incorporated in Presidential Regulation Number 78 of 2021 concerning BRIN. The head of BRIN, Laksana Tri Handoko, has conveyed his three policy directives in leading BRIN. First, consolidating science and technology resources (human, infrastructure, and budget) to improve Indonesia’s critical mass, capacity and research competence to produce inventions and innovations as the main foundation for an Advanced Indonesia 2045. Second, creating a research ecosystem according to open (inclusive) global standards. and collaborative for all parties (academics, industry, community, and government). Third, creating a strong and sustainable research-based economic foundation with focus on digital – green – blue economy.

In fulfilling these three directives, BRIN is currently in the process of integrating R&D units, as well as building an open research platform. Furthermore, said Dudi, how we can achieve the target of a research-based economy that supports the digital, blue, and green economy. The research content currently needs to be mapped out by BRIN, through the establishment of 12 Research Organizations (RO) and 85 Research Centers (RC) which will soon be approved by the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform.

“Now we need to discuss where we will take RO and RC research to, which is of course to support the digital – green – blue – economy. These are the research contents from ROI and CR that we incorporate into the Grand Design for the Achievement of Indonesia’s Science and Technology Vision,” he said.

This discussion room, according to Dudi, needs to be coordinated. This is the important role of the Deputy for Policy Research and Innovation of BRIN, as the facilitator to map these research works and integrate them into the Grand Design of Indonesian Science and Technology.

Science Based Policy Supports Digital – Green – Blue Economy

Research, of course, cannot be separated from research-based policy. Referring to Presidential Regulation Number 78 of 2021 concerning BRIN, the science-based policy is supported by 2 deputies, namely the Deputy for Development Policy (KD) and the Deputy for Research and Innovation Policy (KRI). Dudi said that these two deputies are the think tanks of BRIN and also Bappenas in formulating science-based national policies.

“The task of Deputy for Development Policy is to carry out R&D activities that support formulation of development policies in various sectors, such as policies on human development, population, culture, politics, law, security, and so forth. So that in the future, Bappenas, in planning development in various sectors, will be based on science, in which the deputy for Development Policy is the think tank,” explained Dudi.

“As for the research, technology, and innovation sectors, the think tank is the Deputy for Research and Innovation Policy. Why does it have to be in 1 deputy? Yes, it is natural, because BRIN carries out its duties in the fields of research, technology, and innovation,” he added.

Presidential Regulation Number 78 of 2021 concerning BRIN states that the Deputy for Research and Innovation Policy has the task to carry out formulation and determination of policies in the field of research and innovation which includes the master plan of advancing of science and technology, and the roadmap for research and development as well as inventions and innovations, administration of nuclear power, and implementation of outer space by referring to the values ​​of Pancasila.

Dudi said, as the new organizations in the process of transformation, the Deputy for KP and the Deputy for KRI are coordinating with Ministries/Institutions (K/L) whose R&D units have joined BRIN.

In November last year, BRIN held the Research and Innovation Communication Forum (FKRI) year 2021 as the meeting place for Ministries/Institutions and BRIN, and the Ministry of Finance and Bappenas in scheduling research and innovation needs of each K/L in 2022 and 2023. In the FKRI, explained Dudi, it was decided that the Deputy for KRI focuses on surveys to produce basic data, in coordination with the relevant Ministries/Institutions.

For example, his office has communicated and coordinated with the BKKBN and BPS to conduct Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey, then coordinated with the Ministry of Communication and Information regarding the Digital Community Index. In addition, he has also coordinated with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, among others for the Religious Harmony Index, the Religious Social Piety Index, and the Religiosity Index.

However, according to him, not all surveys or indexes that have so far been carried out by R&D units in related ministries/agencies can automatically be transferred to BRIN. For example, in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, there are indexes specifically for the services of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, such as the Hajj Service Index and the KUA Service Index. These service indexes, according to Dudi, are definitely the responsibility of the relevant ministries/institutions, not BRIN.

“Of course, under such a pattern, I suspect that not all types of surveys or indexes carried out by Research and Development Agencies (Balitbang) so far are the responsibility of BRIN, even though the Balitbang has been transferred to BRIN,” said Dudi.

Equally important is, explained Dudi, during this transformation period, how the Deputy for KRI is able to identify the research activities in K/L to be transferred. According to him, the definition of research needs to be understood better so that the activities that thus far have been labeled as research can be straightened out. The K/L activities that measure or test a product, for example, cannot be considered as research activities.

“For example, BPOM carries out activities that ensure the safety of drugs and food. What they do are testing, measuring, testing. I think what BPOM is doing is not research, but MSTQ (Measurement Standard Testing Quality). So, in my view, these activities should not be transferred to BRIN,” explained Dudi.

However, if the research on testing technology, for example, can be the domain of BRIN, how we can develop the test methods, create new standards so that they can be used as reference for measurement or testing. “This is the importance of identifying which activities are research and which are not,” he added.

Research, continued Dudi, does need time and costs that tend to be expensive, such as research on the development of the Merah Putih Covid-19 vaccine, which the public has been waiting for. Indonesia has yet to have experience in developing vaccines from scratch. There are many rules that must be met at each stage of vaccine development.

“Building a vaccine manufacturing plant is different from building plants for instant noodle or computer. High risk of failure. For a computer plant, the equipment already exists, the procedure is clear, all you have to do is simply print it; then voila. But the vaccine is different. We have no experience in making vaccine seeds. Making vaccine seeds requires a strong scientific basis. It takes a long learning process. There are scientific principles that must be followed in making vaccines,” said Dudi.

Therefore, in the midst of current transformation of BRIN, the Deputy for KRI is currently identifying emerging issues. He encourages members of the Deputy for KRI to write popular scientific articles related to research, technology, and innovation policies, to educate the public about the importance of this R&D integration into BRIN (tnt, drs).