Malaysia's Marketplace Strides
Scientific Forum Session Targets Ways to Meet Challenges and "Hard Choices" Facing National Nuclear Institutes
Malaysia is making steady strides in the nuclear marketplace, carving a niche keyed to its national development goals.
Its national nuclear institute is generating more and more revenue from a range of nuclear applications and services. The Malaysian Institute for Nuclear Technology Research (MINT) is now 30% sustainable in terms of operational costs via provision of services to both private and government agencies, says Dr. Daud Mohammad, Deputy Director General of MINT's Corporate Program.
MINT provides a range of technical services -- in areas of industrial technology (mainly non-destructive testing); radiation processing (medical product sterilization, food irradiation, and cross-linking of wire and cables); radiation dosimetry services for personal and radiation equipment; and in provision of training in such areas as safety and health, industrial applications, and medical imaging. MINT's revenue has gone up accordingly, Dr. Daud says. So far in 2003, about RM 9 million has been earned (about US $2.4 million) compared to about RM 5 million in 1997.
As the trends suggest, nuclear technology has gained wide acceptance from the public and industry. MINT has placed great importance on building relations and rapport with customers and end-users, using the media, exhibitions, school lectures, partner alliances advertising, and other outreach channels. "We have worked hard to enhance our image and acceptance," Dr. Daud says. "Customer and business networks as well as strategic alliances at the national and international levels are key ways for national nuclear institutes to become self-reliant and sustainable."
Dr. Daud was among presenters at the IAEA Scientific Forum session 16 September on innovative approaches for nuclear institutions. Other presentations were made by Dr. J. Mengatti of Brazil and Dr. E. Akaho of Ghana. Session moderator was Mr. W. Stumpf of South Africa, who is chairman of the IAEA Standing Advisory Group on Technical Cooperation.
Key Challenges, Hard Choices, IAEA Deputy Director General Says
IAEA Deputy Director General for Technical Cooperation, Ms. Ana Maria Cetto, in her concluding remarks at the session, commended steps being taken to overcome the challenges being faced by institutions in the nuclear sector.
"We have heard examples of opportunities," she said. "Partnerships with educational institutions and joint ventures with private sector firms involved in biotechnology that respond to end users and meet demand for, and also advance, science and technology. And we've heard about hard choices -- critical evaluations of core scientific and technological competencies and research and development programmes that lead to restructuring, reprioritization, and eventually increased income generation.
"These are the lessons that are essential for securing the future of nuclear sector institutions and to ensure the valuable contributions of nuclear science and technology to national development, peace and security. It is also essential that the experience gained by these institutions become part of the institutional knowledge of the IAEA, for it is our aim and our vision that by strengthening the financial and technical competence of our counterpart institutions, we will help level the scientific and technical playing field and advance the power of science for human development.
"This is the fundamental purpose and goal for technical cooperation and one that I am committed to pursuing. The challenge we face institutionally is to work toward a new scientific and technology paradigm where the distinction "developed" and "developing" ceases to be common terminology, replaced by true collaboration as technical peers and scientific equals -- the Agency as a center for technical knowledge and Member States as technical innovators and agents for change."