Challenging a new generation of inventors
NECESSITY is the mother of all inventions. Apathy, on the other hand, is the bane of all innovation and progress.
The advent of the Genovasi Challenge, spearheaded by the Special Innovations Unit (Unik) and the Malaysian Innovation Agency (AIM), seeks to address the apathy plaguing the nation, especially among youth.
Unik and AIM chief executive offi cer Datuk Seri Dr Kamal Jit Singh describes the main purpose of the challenge as instilling a sense of ownership of the country, mainly among youths.
“My generation are the nation’s caretakers. The ones inheriting Malaysia will be the youth. And in order to progress, our youth cannot aff ord to be apathetic. So how do we address this? By creating a scenario where we artifi cially create the feeling of envy,” Kamal Jit told The Malay Mail.
“For instance, in the United States, the venture capitalist convinced the academic scientists who only wanted to do research to commercialise their inventions not just by giving them money. Those whose inventions were commercialised received a Ferrari.
“It became a status symbol because the scientist drove to work in a Ferrari and his colleagues and peers asked how he got it. This drove them to want it as well. They said to themselves, I can do better than that and worked hard towards the car.
“Similarly, we’re offering RM100,000 as the grand prize for each series in the Genovasi Challenge. And the winner will be publicly announced.”
However the winner must also be part of the team to work on realising his idea.
“We don’t want armchair critics. If yours is the winning entry, you will have to work hard to make it happen together with Unik, AIM and the relevant government agencies.
The problem is Malaysians no longer take the initiative to find solutions for ourselves.
“We’re so used to being spoonfed by the government and complain when things go wrong and expect the government to fix everything.
This should not be the case. Rather than complain and do nothing we should find solutions to our problems,” he said.
Acknowledging that the challenge is English-centric and seems targetted at urban youths, Kamal Jit said upcoming challenges will have Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin and Tamil versions as well.
“We will not have a multilingual version. Half the problem in this country is that we bend over backwards, making it too easy for Malaysians. We spoon-feed instead of making them work for the rewards.
“Parents these days offer gifts to their children if they succeed in exams. Let’s be crude about it — what they are doing is bribing their kids. It is a wrong message to send.
“And we brazenly say that the government must wipe out corruption. We have to stop being hypocrites,” he said.
Noting that Malaysians are one of the biggest online social media users in the world, Kamal Jit said if youth were hungry enough to join the challenge, they will resource online services like Google Translate to understand it.
“Innovation comes from desperation.
If you’re desperate enough you will innovate, invent and succeed.
Success comes from multiple failures and perseverance, as well as learning from failures. He said the seven to 10 judges will not consist of “dinosaurs”.
“They are experts in the related fields.
“We will get town planners,social scientists, housing developers who will know if it is realistically workable or not,¡¨ said Kamal Jit.
ƒÜ THE full interview with Kamal Jit will be published on Monday.