UTM Signs LoC to Enable Tech Collaboration – OpenGov Asia

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) signed a Letter of Collaboration (LoC) on 2 September 2022 with a Malaysia-based technology company to enable collaboration in the field of Internet of Things (IoT), Communication Networks, Engineering and Technology.
The tech firm is a company that provides a solution provider of Systems Integration, Fibre Optic Sensing Solutions, Pipeline Integrity Monitoring Systems, Surveillance Systems, Fire & Gas Systems, High-Level Security Systems and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The collaboration between the two parties was started following the visit of the Ubiquitous Broadband Access Network (U-BAN) research team to the company’s office in Shah Alam on 2 December 2021. In the ceremony, UTM was represented by its Pro-Vice Chancellor of UTM Kuala Lumpur while the Chief Executive Officer represented the company.
The collaboration agreed upon by both parties covered the academic partnership and cooperation between UTM and the tech firm including the exchange of academic staff and students (undergraduate and postgraduates), Research and Development (R&D) in Communication Technology as well as Internet of Things (IoT), joint seminar/conferences and the co-supervision of postgraduate students.
In his statement, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of UTM Kuala Lumpur after the signing ceremony said that with the joint venture, the relationship and cooperation between UTM and the firm will hope to grow stronger and last longer and will succeed in providing high-impact results to both parties. The Pro-Vice Chancellor also acknowledged the firm’s representatives for making this cooperation possible.
The positive discussion opens opportunities for research collaboration such as industry grants and human capital development. The cooperation that will be established can improve the reputation of joint research with industry at the national and international levels, he added.
In 2020, the growth of Malaysia’s digital economy was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic which gave rise to new digital businesses, forced traditional brick-and-mortar enterprises to pivot online, and saw millions of Malaysians go virtual for their eCommerce, entertainment, and even education needs.
The delivery of quality education now is dependent on a student’s home broadband connectivity, or access to laptops or computers. To ensure that no Malaysian is left behind to catch the wave of digitalisation, the government is laying the foundation for the region’s transformation towards an advanced digital economy. This foundation includes building the infrastructure, facilitating innovation, and creating an ecosystem for all of us to contribute to bringing forth higher standards of living, the fruits of which will be enjoyed by all Malaysians.
MyDIGITAL outlines the plans to accelerate Malaysia’s progress as a technologically advanced economy, through the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint. This will chart the path to strategically position ourselves as a competitive force in this new era.
MyDIGITAL was developed to help realise the nation’s Twelfth Malaysia Plan, 2021-2025 (RMKe-12), as the government works on Wawasan Kemakmuran Bersama 2030. In facing this digital economy transformation, it is imperative to collaborate and take the necessary steps to adapt and collaborate for the next normal. The journey is not going to be easy but under unprecedented circumstances, we need to be brave enough to make this quantum leap forward to elevate the quality of life for all Malaysians.
The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and ASTRI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 19 September 2022 aimed at closer cooperation in research and technology transfer, and in nurturing R&D talents for the future. The Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of HKU and the Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI signed the MoU on behalf of both parties.
Under the agreement, HKU and ASTRI will determine their respective intellectual property rights and ownership of R&D results, so as to facilitate the commercialisation of joint R&D or implementation projects under the jurisdiction of both parties or affiliated institutions of HKU, shorten the research time of joint R&D projects, and effectively make use of resources to improve and increase the implementation of R&D results.
HKU and ASTRI will work together on a project basis to enable the exchange and development of vision between them, including the determination of the contribution of each stakeholder in the development of R&D results, as well as the ownership, funding arrangements, project implementation responsibilities and intellectual property protection of R&D results of relevant joint projects, so as to explore opportunities for technology commercialisation with the intellectual property owned by both parties and make the implementation and mass production of local R&D more effective.
The focus of the cooperation will be to make good use of resources to improve the R&D quality, accelerate and improve the commercialisation process, bring more practical technologies to the government, industry and society, and support Hong Kong to become a world-class smart city.
The Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of HKU stated that in-depth cooperation between HKU and ASTRI will effectively combine the cross-disciplinary R&D strengths of both parties, seize more opportunities for technology transfer and commercialization of results, and nurture R&D talents in Hong Kong, which will be of great benefit to the development of I&T in Hong Kong and the entire region.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI stated that in recent years, the HKSAR Government has invested a lot of resources to support the development of I&T and encourage youngsters to embark on the R&D road. The collaboration between ASTRI and HKU this time provides a better platform for aspirants.  More resources will be allocated to promote I&T and build Hong Kong into an I&T hub in the Asia-Pacific region.
HKU has a prolific research history and the University strives to attract and nurture outstanding scholars through excellence and innovation in its research and knowledge exchange activities. Its research areas cover a wide range of issues with the aim of benefitting industries, businesses, and the community.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) was founded by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 2000 with the mission of enhancing Hong Kong’s competitiveness through applied research.
ASTRI’s core R&D competence in various areas is grouped under four Technology Divisions: Trust and AI Technologies; Communications Technologies; IoT Sensing and AI Technologies and Integrated Circuits and Systems.  It is applied across six core areas which are Smart City, Financial Technologies, Re-Industrialisation and Intelligent Manufacturing, Digital Health, Application Specific Integrated Circuits and Metaverse.
Over the years, ASTRI has nurtured a pool of research, I&T talents and received numerous international awards for its pioneering innovations as well as outstanding business and community contributions. As of 2021/22, ASTRI has transferred almost 1,250 technologies to the industry and has been granted over 1,000 patents in the Mainland, the US, and other countries.
The Land Information Minister, Damien O’Connor, recently announced a joint Trans-Tasman partnership, which will provide Australasia with world-leading satellite positioning services that are up to 50 times more accurate than current services. This is expected to boost economic productivity, sustainability, and safety.
Businesses, communities, farmers, and first responders across Australia and New Zealand will reap the benefits from greater satellite positioning accuracy with the award of an AUD$ 1.18 billion, 19-year contract to bring the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) to life.
As per a press release, services will be available in the next few weeks. The SouthPAN project will immediately improve the accuracy, reliability, and availability of existing satellite positioning systems in Australasia. SouthPAN will provide instant, accurate, and reliable positioning to users across all of Australia and New Zealand’s land and maritime zones without the need for a mobile phone signal or internet,
With SouthPAN, search and rescue operations will be able to work better in poor weather conditions and remote places. It will help drive innovation in fenceless farms and precision agriculture, which will improve productivity and lift sustainability credentials. Future applications include tracking shipping and navigating drones and unmanned vehicles.
Independent analysis of SouthPAN shows it has the potential to benefit many major sectors in New Zealand from transport, construction, and utilities to agriculture, forestry, and horticulture. The quantified economic benefits from this are estimated to be $864 million over the next 20 years and will provide New Zealanders with greater economic security into the future.
SouthPAN is the Southern Hemisphere’s first satellite navigation augmentation service. This is crucial digital infrastructure for the future, and the government expects the actual benefits to be greater over the project’s lifespan. In the time to come, products on the market will use this infrastructure to create value in new ways for businesses and consumers, O’Connor added.
New Zealand’s partnership with Australia was vital to accessing this technology and O’Connor acknowledged them for partnering on this significant investment. “Without this partnership, the cost of entry would simply be too great for New Zealand to take on alone,” he said.
Australia’s Minister for Resources, Madeleine King, explained the investment is a major commitment between the Australian and New Zealand governments, providing broad benefits for all of Australasia. “We’ve already demonstrated that industry and the community can use this for ground-breaking applications that increase safety, improve productivity, and drive innovation across a broad range of industries,” King stated. SouthPAN is estimated to generate over AUD$6 billion in benefits to the Australian economy over the next 30 years.
The network will enable mining companies to install more accurate collision avoidance systems on automated mining haul trucks or allow visually impaired citizens to navigate cities with pinpoint assistive technologies. Further, it will enable light aircraft to land more safely in remote rural areas in all weather conditions, bringing benefits for essential services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the communities they serve.
A compact, autonomous gadget with a flexible sensor that can be attached to the skin has been developed by engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology along with Stanford University to measure the changing size of tumours beneath the skin.
The battery-operated, non-invasive device is sensitive to one-hundredth of a millimetre (10 micrometres) and can wirelessly transmit results to a smartphone app in real-time at the touch of a button.
According to the researchers, the device tag FAST short for Flexible Autonomous Sensor measuring Tumours represents an entirely novel, affordable, hands-free, and accurate method for testing the efficiency of anti-cancer medications. On a larger scale, it could lead to promising new cancer treatment possibilities.
Researchers test thousands of potential cancer treatments on mice with subcutaneous tumours each year. Few make it to human patients, and the process of discovering novel medicines is sluggish since technologies for evaluating the shrinkage of tumours in response to medication therapy require weeks to determine a response.
The inherent biological heterogeneity of tumours, the limitations of existing measurement methods, and the relatively small sample sizes make medication tests challenging and laborious.
Metal pincer-like callipers are not appropriate for measuring soft tissues, and radiological techniques cannot provide the continuous data required for real-time assessment. While calliper and bioluminescence tests frequently need weeks-long observation periods to read out changes in tumour size, FAST can detect changes in tumour volume on a minute-timescale.
The FAST sensor is comprised of a skin-like, elastic polymer with an embedded layer of gold circuitry. This sensor is attached to a small electronic backpack designed by Yasser Khan and Naoji Matsuhisa, two former post-docs and co-authors.
The device monitors the membrane’s strain, or how much it stretches or contracts, and transfers this information to a smartphone. Using the FAST backpack, possible therapies connected to tumour size reduction can be promptly and confidently ruled out as useless or expedited for further investigation.
According to the experts, the new device offers at least three substantial improvements. First, it allows continuous monitoring because the sensor is physically attached to the mouse and remains in place during the duration of the experiment.
Second, the flexible sensor envelops the tumour and is consequently able to measure difficult-to-detect changes in form that cannot be detected by other methods. FAST is autonomous and non-invasive. It is affixed to the skin like a bandage, is battery-powered and wirelessly connected.
Following sensor placement, the mouse is unconstrained by the gadget or wires and scientists are not required to actively touch the mice. FAST packs are also reusable, cost approximately $60 to assemble, and can be connected to a mouse in a matter of minutes.
The breakthrough is the flexible electronic material developed by FAST. The skin-like polymer is coated with a coating of gold, which, when stretched, generates microscopic fissures that alter the material’s electrical conductivity.
Stretching the material increases the number of cracks, which in turn raises the electrical resistance of the sensor. When the material compresses, the cracks reconnect, and conductivity is enhanced. Researchers defined how fracture propagation and exponential changes in conductivity might be theoretically linked to dimensional and volumetric changes.
The researchers had to overcome the risk that the sensor itself could skew results by providing excessive pressure on the tumour, thereby compressing it. To avoid this danger, they meticulously matched the mechanical properties of the flexible material to those of skin, making the sensor as malleable and pliable as actual skin.
After the Covid-19 issue hit the Philippines in 2020, government organisations, well-established libraries, academic institutions, and concerned organisations started offering online library services to assist students, instructors, researchers, and citizens with their information needs.
The Department of Education (DepEd) is required to digitise all textbooks and reference books it determines are necessary for the public education of primary and secondary students under Senate Bill No. 477, also known as the Philippine Online Library Act.
These will be assembled in the envisioned Philippine Online Library, which the DepEd and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) would jointly run. Thus, the digital textbook copies will be shared between the DepEd and the National Library of the Philippines.
As an addition to the country’s current online library services, which were established during the pandemic’s breakout two years ago, Senator Win Gatchalian wants to develop a free online library for primary and secondary students.
Gatchalian, who is also the head of the Philippines’ Senate Committee on Basic Education, emphasised the importance of digital education technologies in ensuring learning continuity and bridging learning gaps caused by school disruptions.
Public libraries, one of the nation’s paths to educational resources, should remain pandemic-proof – universal and accessible – regardless of the geographic location and type of gadget used by the students, he continued.
Gatchalian cited the 2021 World Bank report, which revealed that when remote learning was deployed during the epidemic, 95.5 per cent of low-income households used paper-based learning modules and resources.
With this, the DepEd shall provide computers, laptops, and other suitable devices to all public elementary and secondary schools across the country to ensure access to digitised texts.
The Free Internet Connection in Public Places Act, also known as Republic Act 10929, requires the DICT to offer all public elementary and secondary schools free, dependable, and secure internet access.
Research by UNICEF and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) claims that as schools reopen, high, low, and no-tech innovations can help to mitigate learning losses and offer fresh resources and educational materials to reach the most marginalised children.
In the meantime, Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. stated that to serve the people effectively, create more jobs, and ensure the nation’s economic revival, the Philippines should be on par with other nations in terms of technological innovations in the digital and modern age.
He claimed that the Philippine government had gone a step further and that, in addition to being a sustainable mode of operation, it would also be the sole mode of operation for the country in the years to come.
The government hopes to explore the endless possibilities and take advantage of the many brilliant ideas that professionals must continue growth and promote new advancements in this area, to secure the nation’s economic regeneration and create more jobs.
The President claims that this effort is a natural fit for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ three-year Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, which encourages the digitalisation of payments to increase financial inclusion.
The strategy aims to integrate 70 per cent of Filipino adults into the official financial system by the end of the next year and to digitise at least 50 per cent of all retail transaction volume.
The programme will advance other government digitalisation initiatives in addition to offering digital banking services to local government units (LGUs).
Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) has received technical assistance from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to enhance the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure along with the development of smart city initiatives in Phuket.
“Working closely with DEPA, Phuket has been proactive in adopting purposeful technological solutions to improve the well-being and economic viability of its citizens and visitors. Thanks to the strong support of both USTDA and the Phuket Provincial Government, we are confident that this technical assistance will lead to a long-term citizen-centric digital transformation and strengthen ties among all parties involved,” says Dr Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, DEPA President and Chief Executive Officer.
The USTDA is happy to cooperate with DEPA and the Phuket Provincial Government to achieve their goals as Thailand has an ambitious smart cities agenda, according to Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA Director.
He added that by assisting Phuket in the deployment of these innovative and cutting-edge solutions, they will have a good influence on the lives of Thais and the millions of international tourists that visit each year. Their work will also assist to generate chances for U.S. companies to provide the types of technologies and services that Phuket needs.
Moreover, the USTDA assistance, according to the US Embassy in Thailand, will help develop technical requirements and a detailed strategy for the development of the Phuket Smart City Data Platform – a tool that leverages data and technological innovations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of city management and citizen services.
The aid will facilitate the modernisation of Phuket’s integrated operations centre and essential ICT infrastructure, including traffic control and emergency communications systems, fibre-optic networks, data servers, cloud migration, cybersecurity, and 5G development.
Gwendolyn J. Cardno, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Bangkok, on the other hand, stated that the project is a great example of how the Thai-U.S. partnership can stimulate a vibrant digital economy and provide direct benefits for Thais while supporting the nation’s efforts to build a greener, smarter, and higher-value tourism sector. She added that with the U.S. as a partner, Thailand will be able to benefit from decades of American invention and thrive in this era of the digital revolution.
Furthermore, Thailand has proclaimed the success of its hosting of the APEC Women and the Economy Forum (WEF) and has vowed to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality alongside other APEC member nations.
Anucha Burapachaisri, Deputy Secretary-General to the Prime Minister and Acting Government Spokesperson, recently revealed Thailand’s accomplishments in hosting the APEC Women and the Economy Forum (WEF).
Thailand and other APEC nations agreed during the summit to encourage networking for inclusive female empowerment, underlining that a friendly and accommodating environment for women to thrive is critical to promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth in the region.
The meeting also emphasised the importance of preventing and eliminating all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination against women and girls, as well as empowering and advancing women and gender equality in the Asia Pacific region by 2040, to achieve an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community for the prosperity of all people and future generations.
As host of APEC 2022, Thailand envisions a robust and sustainable economy and society by implementing the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy model, according to a government spokesperson.
This strategy combines and synergizes three economic methods that leverage technology and innovation to create value, reduce waste, and encourage sustainable enterprises.
Thai authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to fostering female empowerment in all areas to achieve balanced and inclusive digital and socioeconomic as well as environmental progress.
To improve regulatory collaboration and engagement in FinTech, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) inked a FinTech Cooperation Agreement (CA). It was signed by Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS’s Chief FinTech Officer, and Joseph Joshy, IFSCA’s Chief Technology Officer.
“This CA builds on the Memorandum of Understanding on Supervisory Co-operation signed between MAS and IFSCA in July 2022. The cross-border testing of use cases between Singapore and India will pave the way for operationalising a broader collaboration framework for FinTech use cases involving multiple jurisdictions,” says Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS.
The CA will encourage the Regulatory Sandbox Collaboration and Sharing of Information.
MAS and IFSCA will utilise existing regulatory sandboxes in their respective countries to facilitate the testing of technological advancements. This includes companies being referred to each other’s regulatory sandboxes and enables innovative cross-border trials in both jurisdictions.
In addition, the CA will permit MAS and IFSCA to assess the feasibility of use cases that potentially benefit from collaboration across many jurisdictions and ask eligible governments to participate in a Global Regulatory Sandbox.
MAS and IFSCA will share information and advancements on innovation in financial products and services that are unrelated to supervision, encourage conversations on emerging FinTech concerns, and participate in joint innovation projects.
The agreement is a turning point that marks the start of a FinTech Bridge that will use Regulatory Sandboxes to serve as a launch pad for Indian FinTechs to go to Singapore and a landing pad for Singapore FinTechs to go to India.
A Global Regulatory Sandbox gives the FinTech Ecosystem an exciting chance to work with people all over the world on good use cases.
Under the IFSCA Act 2019, the Government of India set up the IFSCA as a single body in charge of developing and regulating financial products, financial services, and financial institutions in the International Financial Services Centres in India.
Moreover, OpenGov Asia earlier reported that MAS and Bank Indonesia (BI) announced the start of the development of a cross-border QR payment linkage between Indonesia and Singapore as part of the ASEAN-wide payments connectivity effort.
This payment connectivity would allow consumers and organisations, particularly micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), to conduct cross-border trade, e-commerce, and financial activities more efficiently.
Meanwhile, all travel agent licenses will be given out electronically through the Travel Agents and Tourist Guides Licensing System (TRUST), this was announced by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) as part of the STB’s plan to go digital and make things easier.
With the change, travel agents should get their licenses faster, and the time it takes to get a new license or renew an old one should be cut in half. Through the TRUST portal, they will also be able to get to their license online. With electronic issuance, travel agents can easily download and print the license so they can put it on display.
The license has been redesigned to include a QR code so that the public can check the license’s authenticity right away and to make the license’s expiration date stand out more.
Travel agents should know that licenses that were given out before 15 September 2022, are still good until the end of the license period, which is 31 December 2023, or earlier if that date comes sooner. The switch to an electronic license only changes how the license looks and how it is delivered. Travel agents still must follow rules about how to show their licenses.
In a bid to replace all fossil-fuel-powered-passenger vehicles with electric alternatives by 2030, the Wellington City Council has added 24 more electric vehicles (EVs) to its fleet. By mid-August, there were 40 EVs for staff to use for daily operations. The city also has plans to reduce the number of fuel-powered vehicles in the fleet.
The new vehicles can be recognised out and about in the city by the bright yellow ‘100 percent electric’ branding and waka hiko (electric vehicle) on the doors in line with Tupiki Ora, the Council’s new ten-year Maori strategy that embraces the use of the language. All branding was made from non-PVC products. PVC is a large contributor to plastic waste and is difficult to recycle.
According to the Wellington City Council’s Fleet Advisor, Vishal Garg, the Council has set a target to be 100% electric by 2030 if not sooner, and this is just one way the Council is making changes alongside Wellingtonians to reduce city-wide emissions. “We need everyone to work together to be a net zero carbon capital,” he stated. The Council intends to educate people on EVs, and how they can consider climate change when using transport.
A study by the New Zealand Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi) about Kiwi behaviour shows that on average, people don’t travel more than 20 to 50 kilometres a day. Introducing electric vehicles that are capable of a 250-300 kilometres range in one full charge will be the right match for most Council operations. As Wellington city is compact, there are many opportunities for people to change the way they travel throughout the city and have an impact on carbon emissions. “You don’t need to drive as often as you think because so many things are in walking, biking or scootering distance, and there’s also handy public transport,” Garg added.
An official from the First to Zero Programme said that while the Council’s key focus is on promoting the use of active and public transport modes, it is recognised that this may not be a solution for all transport needs. There will be circumstances that require the use of motor vehicles. By transforming its fleet to zero-emission EVs, the city will utilise a full suite of transport solutions that all help to create a zero-carbon future. Transport emissions are a key contributor to climate change, as highlighted in the First to Zero action plan, with 35% caused by road transport.
Adopted in June 2019, First to Zero is a blueprint to make Wellington City a zero-carbon capital (net zero emissions) by 2050. This blueprint outlines key activities that can help reduce emissions in four target areas: transport, building energy and urban form, advocacy, and the Council.
Under the national government climate-change work programme, the country targets reducing net emissions by 50% below 2005 gross emissions for the period 2021-30. Cities across New Zealand are investing in green alternatives to achieve these goals. In April, Auckland launched two fully electric ferries. As OpenGov Asia reported, the ferries can reach a top speed of 25 knots (on par with today’s diesel ferries) with a range of 40 kilometres.
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