4IR: Future-proofing Malaysian industries for the digital age

15 July 2021

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the rapid advancement of disruptive technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and blockchain, have shown the potential to significantly transform the economic landscape around the world.

Research has shown that AI technology can increase GDP by up to 26% in the next decade. Digitalisation will also help achieve sustainable growth in the long term, in line with the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.

The National 4IR Policy outlined several targets for 2030:

  • Malaysia to rank among the Top 20 in the Global Innovation Index,
  • 30% productivity increase across all sectors, compared to 2020 levels,
  • Transform 20% of semi- and low-skilled labour to highly skilled labour,
  • 3.5% gross expenditure on R&D, including 4IR-related R&D,
  • More home-grown 4IR technology providers, and
  • 80% of e-government services are integrated and supported by 4IR technology.

In April 2021, the Cabinet announced that investment policy reforms will be rooted in the National Investment Aspirations (NIAs), namely:

  • increase economic diversity and complexity through the development of sophisticated products and services, with high local R&D and innovation;
  • create high skill jobs to provide better income for the rakyat;
  • expand and integrate domestic linkages into regional and global supply chains, by improving their resiliency;
  • develop new and existing clusters focusing on high productivity sectors, including local products and services; and
  • improve inclusivity to contribute towards the socio-economic developmental agenda.

Subsequently, Bank Negara Malaysia established a RM1 billion High Tech Facility for SMEs in advanced manufacturing and services sectors aligned to the NIAs, as well as SME project participants in key Government programmes involved in R&D and innovation for critical technologies including 4IR technologies.

Thus far, three key technologies have come into focus: AI, robotics, and blockchain.

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