Source from: The Jakarta Post, Makassar | Sci-Tech Research and Technology Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta says Indonesia needs more researchers to innovate and develop state-of-the-art technology as the current number of scholars only covers one-third of the minimum requirement. “We only have 132 researchers for our 497 regencies. We need to have at least one researcher in each regency,” Hatta said in Makassar, Thursday. “Researchers are needed to generate innovations, especially technology for local development, to add to the value of national resources,” Hatta said.Currently, there are only 18 research centers in 33 provinces. Furthermore, there are only 23 research and development agencies (BPPD) at the provincial level. At the regional level the figure is even worse, with only 48 agencies out of 497 regencies and municipalities.
A joint regulation between the Research and Technology Ministry and the Home Ministry, stipulates that BPPDs are important to empower local innovation.“The government is working to build more regional research centers and agencies. We aim to have all regional policies decided on the basis of researched facts and results,” Hatta said. Indonesia’s competitiveness is still low, ranked 46th out of 142 countries in terms of global competitiveness, in the Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 by the World Economic Forum. The rank was a result of weak research and development in the country, although Indonesia has a bright potential.Interest in research in Indonesia is actually quite high. Last year, there were some 4,000 proposals submitted to the National Innovation System, although only 300 were approved. Another 500 proposals were approved for young technocrats. “We have to be selective because we lack funds. We chose only the best among the proposals,” the minister said. Indonesian research funds are only 0.08 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), while other countries have a minimum of 1 percent.Hatta admitted the small amount of funds allocated to the research and development sector, at Rp 672 billion (US$71.63 million) this year, had led to stagnant growth in research activity. Responding to questions, Hatta said his ministry had talked to hundreds of Indonesian researchers working abroad. “Their responses are good but before asking them to come home, we should first prepare the infrastructure,” he said. By July 2012, five electric car technology experts, working in several countries including the United States, had returned to Indonesia. They are currently developing a local electric car, slated to be launched on National Technology Awakening Day, Aug. 10.