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The Malaysian government will help local businesses acquire foreign technology to develop new products, said the country's minister of science, technology and innovation last Thursday (4 August).

Jamaludin Jarjis told the national news agency Bernama that importing overseas technologies, especially from Europe and the United States, would accelerate the development of Malaysia's biotechnology and information technology industries.

The Malaysian government sees both sectors as essential for economic growth.

Jamaludin said Malaysian companies could apply to the ministry for funding to pay for the foreign intellectual property and technologies they need to develop new products.

He said the science ministry would ask the government to increase its research and development budget — currently about 1.5 billion ringgits (US$400 million) — to help cover these costs.

If Malaysia is to meet its target of becoming a developed country by 2020, it must focus on applying existing technologies, rather than undertake the time-consuming process of developing new ones, said the minister.

In this respect, he said, Malaysia should emulate countries such as South Korea, which regularly import technologies from more developed countries.

But he added that prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi acknowledged that basic scientific research is also important for the country's economy and emphasised that such research would not be abandoned.