The – SIRIM to Drive Adoption of Frontier Technology

“SIRIM Berhad will become the epicentre of technology and innovation in Malaysia. We will emerge as leaders of frontier technology.” – Dato Dr. Ahmad Sabirin Arshad, President and Group Chief Executive of SIRIM BerhadLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, con.sectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo

SIRIM Berhad’s newly appointed President and Group Chief Executive, Dato Dr. Ahmad Sabirin Arshad plans to transform the organisation into a champion of frontier technology and a RM1 billion company by 2027.

His illustrious career path certainly proves he is the right person to make this transformation a reality.

From Sea to Space

The former CEO of Aerospace Ventures, a subsidiary of oil and gas company Uzma Berhad, started his career as a marine engineer with plans to join the Malaysian Navy. He made the transition from sea to space when he became part of the pioneering group of engineers involved in the development of MEASAT-1 satellite at the Hughes Aircraft Company, now known as Boeing. He was involved in the development of Malaysia’s first microsatellite TiungSAT-1 and the deployment of the first National Tsunami Early Warning System back in 2004. He was also the former CEO of Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn Bhd, a space and satellite technology company owned by Minister of Finance Inc.

It was his role in the design, development and launch of the country’s second satellite RazakSAT, the first in the world to be placed in the near-equatorial orbit, where the story gets astronomically interesting.

RazakSAT was launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 1 launch vehicle in July 2009 by none other than Elon Musk himself.

“I knew Elon Musk when he was just operating from a shack. We spoke many times, and he even invited us to take shares in his company.”

When asked if he would invite Elon Musk to collaborate with SIRIM for Malaysia in the future, Ahmad Sabirin said “Why not? We will find a way for this in our new blueprint to be the champions of frontier technology.”

The Game Plan

“SIRIM must become the technology hub of the country, where innovations in robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), nanotechnology, quantum computing and biotechnology take place. Imagine the Silicon Valley in the States, Tsukuba in Japan and Daejeon in South Korea – then imagine us recreating that kind of creative energy, here in Malaysia.”

“To become a champion of frontier technology, SIRIM will shift its focus from infrastructure as a service, to software as a service. This means moving away from traditional brick and mortar projects,” he explains.

SIRIM’s projects will be streamlined into the Digital Factory – a model through which SIRIM will rapidly develop products and solutions tailored to customer needs in line with shifting demands and trends.

“Firstly, we will emphasise on technologies that can benefit the rakyat directly. Secondly, we will provide solutions and technology upgrades to SMEs to increase their manufacturing productivity and enhance quality. Thirdly, we will lead in industrial technology and cutting-edge innovation.”

“It is vital for SIRIM to remain relevant in the digital era. Industries are moving forward, and it is imperative for us to be a disruptive force at the frontline of all innovation, while always feeling the pulse of the country’s technological needs. SIRIM as the champion of frontier technology will become the driving force of knowledge economy in the country,” adds Ahmad Sabirin.

The company will capitalise on its years of expertise in research and development (R&D). These research outputs will be commercialised into products and services that can be sold to the market. Therefore, research as a business segment is expected to grow as one of the main sources of revenue for SIRIM moving forward.

The Heart of Transformation

Ahmad Sabirin promises to ensure a cultural transformation to empower leadership at every level of the organisation.

Managerial trainings and exposure to a variety of functions will be prioritised to develop the next generation leaders of SIRIM.

Integral to this is embedding a “can-do” attitude among its researchers and technologists.

“Embarking into the digital frontier is not for the faint-hearted. In the world of innovation, people cannot be afraid of failure because to be disruptive, we need to take risks,” he explains. “At SIRIM, we strive to become the best place for researchers to grow. That means supporting them through their failures and successes.”

In this respect, Ahmad Sabirin has opened all doors of communication between himself and the employees to facilitate a collaborative work environment. “I want to actively engage with the staff and listen to their ideas on how we can drive the company forward.”

SIRIM will also attract new digital talent into the organisation. “Paper qualification will no longer be a priority. What matters is what the individual can contribute to the company,” Ahmad Sabirin emphasises. This involves hiring gig workers with specialised skillsets in software development, programming, coding and more.

The Engines of Growth

The strategic direction of the group will be aligned to leverage on the various expertise across different business units and subsidiaries. Based on the motto “One SIRIM, Together Stronger” introduced by Ahmad Sabirin, SIRIM will capitalise on the strengths of the group, be it in calibration, research, training or certification, to mobilise and coordinate resources to achieve its goal.

“SIRIM must break out of its ivory tower to build visibility in the market and connect with customers. It boils down to being proactive and constantly communicating with customers to understand their needs, instead of waiting for them to come to us,” he highlights.

SIRIM’s involvement in the Industry Research Advisory Council (IRAC), which consists of 17 members from various Ministries and leading industry players, will also be pivotal. IRAC will help direct SIRIM’s future investments in research and set up funding and capital ecosystems necessary for commercialisation.

Ahmad Sabirin will also be creating the International Advisory Council – a funding, networking and exploration platform – to facilitate the exchange of concepts, ideas and expertise from across the globe for both SIRIM and Malaysia.

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The Future for SIRIM

SIRIM is making brave landmark reforms to empower the company, businesses and the nation as whole.

Moving forward, SIRIM will continue to provide training to public and private organisations in additive manufacturing, AI, IoT, blockchain, cloud computing and big data analytics through SIRIM IR and its subsidiary SIRIM STS.

Ahmad Sabirin also reveals that a new project is in the works with the Malaysian Wood Moulding and Joinery Council to integrate “Deep Learning”, autonomous robots and big data into colour and wood defect inspection.

“SIRIM plays a crucial role in ensuring that vaccines used in Malaysia meet international safety, efficacy and manufacturing standards,” says Ahmad Sabirin. He further reveals that SIRIM’s Industrial Biotechnology Research Centre will soon partner with relevant agencies to offer testing and validation as part of the supply chain in vaccine development.

“SIRIM’s goal aligns with the government’s aspirations to increase productivity and higher value-added activities driven by technology. I am confident that together, we can capture the growing opportunities in Industry 4.0 to ensure the long-term prosperity of Malaysia’s economy,” Ahmad Sabirin affirms.