Our Research and Competitive Advantage

February 23, 2016, 12:29 GMT+7

Amid incessant political discourse and economic pressure, talking about research seems like anathema, or something that does not fit with the times.

Researchers work at the Dexa Laboratories of Biomolecular<br /> <01><br /> Science belonging to PT Dexa Medica at the Cikarang industrial estate in Bekasi, West Java, on Wednesday (27/1/2016). Various traditional plants are used as raw materials for the production of herbal medicines, development of which is to be drivenin order to reduce dependence on imports of chemical medicines.
KOMPAS/HERU SRI KUMORO Researchers work at the Dexa Laboratories of Biomolecular

However, since research’s role is very important, we have to discuss it. On Monday (22/2/2016), this daily newspaper ran two report about research. The first dealt with the government’s efforts to apply a new strategy in research, while the second concerned the need to establish international cooperation to improve the quality of researchers.

The first report was linked to the fact that Indonesia’s competitive ranking dropped from 34th in 2014 to 37th in 2015. Director general of development and strengthening of research at the Research and Technology and Higher Education Ministry, Muhammad Dimyati, concluded that the rankings drop showed that the development of science and technology resources had not significantly contributed to bolstering Indonesia’s competitiveness.

The country’s low competitiveness is due not only to shortcomings in resources, specifically the low number and quality of studies, but also the unavailability and outdated condition of research infrastructure, limited funds for research and lack of cooperation with industry to apply study results. Regulations, too, are not in favor of industry.

It is justified to say that it is a classical factor. Research is inadequately rooted in our industrial environment, which mostly uses established technology. That’s why 65 percent of industry in Indonesia does not cooperate with any research and development institution, even though 56 percent of industry does not have its own research and development unit.

What about higher education institutions? We read there is a greater demand for researchers in Indonesia because our country is deeply involved in various international cooperations requiring human resources able to compete or cooperate with partners from other countries. Here lies the irony. There is a need to have researchers who are excellent or have international qualifications, but what about the use of the results of their research? Some research focuses on the development of science, while others could be applied to improve the competitiveness of industry.

There are two basic problems. The first is with the development of research culture and the second is research sharpening, which, besides being useful for the development of sciences, is also beneficial to industry.

We should cooperate with foreign research institutions not only to improve the quality of research, but also to drive forward research culture and tradition, which have not grown favorably in our country. We hope there will emerge a new awareness so that research will become a tradition in the academic and industrial environment and in turn can raise the prestige of the nation and its competitive advantage.

Sumber: Print Kompas 23 Feb 2016, Editorial.