President encourages innovation, technology-based economy

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President Jokowi opening the National Work Meeting on the Strengthening of the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (Badan Pengkajian dan Penerapan Teknologi – “BPPT”)’s Technological Innovation Ecosystem 2021 at the Presidential Palace, Jakarta, Monday (08/03/2021) morning. (Photo: BPMI SETPRES)

IO – President RI Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has urged the nation to implement innovation and build a technology-based economy. “We must shift from a commodity-based economy to one that is based on innovation and technology,” he said, as he opened the National Work Meeting on the Strengthening of the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (Badan Pengkajian dan Penerapan Teknologi – “BPPT”)’s Technological Innovation Ecosystem 2021 at the Presidential Palace, Jakarta, Monday (08/03/2021) morning.

The President stated that Indonesia is blessed with an abundance of natural resources that we must protect for the optimum use of maintaining the people’s welfare to the best level it can be. Technological mastery is necessary if we want to do this. “We must be grateful to the blessing that God has given us in the form of abundant natural resources. We must protect them and use them wisely for the welfare and prosperity of our people. However, without mastery and wise utilization of technology, this blessing will not benefit the people much,” he said.

Jokowi further emphasized that Indonesia must increase its capacity as a creator of technology while simultaneously upholding the technological sovereignty of the people. “Indonesian researchers, innovators, industrialists all must work together to develop future technology – technology based on the 4th Industrial Revolution – green, environmentally-friendly technology that brings wellness to our people,” he said.

Jokowi went on to express his hope that BPPT can become the brain for the recovery of the national economy through technological innovation and utilization. “I hope that the BPPT can become an extraordinary agency, one that continuously finds new ways – innovative and creative ways – to generate real achievements, to contribute to the development of the nation,” he said.

He went on to provide directions that will support BPPT and strengthen the ecosystem of technology innovation in Indonesia. “There are several important things that BPPT must do in order to become the brain of the extraordinary recovery of the economy. First, BPPT must hunt for innovations and technologies to develop and to implement immediately,” he said to the participants of the National Work Meeting, both who were present physically and virtually. “There are numerous examples of research and findings in various research and technology institutions, whether governmental or private, and from layman innovators. They may be initial findings that must still be developed; they may be matured findings that are ready for direct implementation and industrialization.”

The president cited the various health innovations that are useful for supporting the effort to mitigate the pandemic during this crisis, such as ventilators and respirators that help people breathe; cheap, easy, and rapid COVID-19 scanning technologies like the GeNose; and technologies like the RI-GHA Rapid Diagnostic Test that are able to detect COVID-19 antibodies. “There are findings in other fields, especially in food and energy technology, that can be used to improve the efficiency of micro, small, and medium-sized businesses (usaha mikro, kecil, dan menengah – “UMKM”); to facilitate synergy between small and large businesses; and to improve the quality of life of the masses,” he said.

Second, BPPT must become an agency that acquires advanced technology, “No matter where such technology comes from. Technology develops very rapidly nowadays, and it is most likely that the technology we need to recover our national economy might not yet be produced domestically. Therefore, the strategy of acquiring technology from other countries is key to the acceleration of our economic development,” he said. “Therefore, it is very important that BPPT prepares such strategies in order to acquire foreign technologies that are highly useful and can be implemented quickly in Indonesia. We must start by no longer just buying turnkey technology. This is extremely important: We frequently just receive the key, the completed product, instead of the work behind it. In the end, we are unable to create our own version of the technology by ourselves for decades.”

He went on to request that the implementation of advanced foreign technologies be in the form of knowledge and technology transfer, not just importing completed machines and experts but by performing technological production cooperation in our Homeland. “Please highlight this: We need to establish technological production cooperation in Indonesia that involve Indonesian technologists, which will allow for transfer of knowledge and experience. This order is not limited to BPPT, but it applies to the entirety of the Cabinet, especially to the Coordinating Ministers (Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investments, Coordinating Minister of

the Economy), the Minister of Trade, the Minister of Industry, the Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, and also to the Head of the Investment Coordinating Board (Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal – “BKPM”),” he said.

For this purpose, the President has signed Presidential Regulation Number 118 of 2020 concerning the Procurement of Industrial Technology through Turnkey Projects that obliges the providers of industrial technology to transfer their technology to the proposers of the project, in this case the relevant executing Ministry or Agency.

Third, the President requests that BPPT serve as the center of technological intelligence in Indonesia. The world is currently undergoing artificial intelligence (“AI”) battles, wherein countries that master AI might rule the world. Therefore, BPPT’s ability to produce its own technology is crucial. “We are currently in a race. I ask that BPPT synergize diaspora talents, university researchers, technological startups, and militantly intelligent youths. We need to generate an AI mother machine that can facilitate the cooperation between innovators and researchers, to facilitate the development of human and computer intelligence to support unconventional, yet effective, economic recovery,” he said. “I hope that BPPT will continue to help the development of Indonesia through its technological innovations and developments – to become an extraordinary institution that continues to discover new ways, innovative and creative ways, to generate real work that contributes to the development of our nation.” (Ekawati)