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Innovate & shift from consumer to producer
Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office, delivering his speech. – AZROL AZMI
January 25, 2017
|     Lyna Mohamad     |

BRUNEIANS have been exhorted to develop a creative and innovative mindset to support the government’s efforts in diversifying its economy.

“We are living in times where Brunei Darussalam is experiencing a strong need to diversify its economy beyond the oil and gas sector. To do so, we cannot continue to do what we have been doing all these years – we must innovate, step out of our comfort zone and think outside the box,” said Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

These can be accomplished “by being innovative to improve how we currently do things to create new opportunities and address problems that we have not yet been able to solve”, the minister added in his opening speech at the launching of Brunei’s first National ICT Hackathon titled B{CODE} yesterday.

The launching of B{CODE} marks the start of an exciting and innovative event that will bring together many of Brunei Darussalam’s innovators, developers, and key stakeholders to collaboratively work and solve real-world challenges.

B{CODE} seeks to engage and tap into the local community, with the objective of providing participants with a platform to showcase their talent and coding skills.

Its goal is to encourage innovation, stimulate ideas and drive creativity among local businesses, students from higher institutions, as well as members of the general public. The theme of this competition is to tackle and come up with solutions to challenges that Brunei is currently facing through the use of information and communication technology (ICT).

“I want you to know the important role you are playing by participating in this hackathon as you are here today to play your part in Brunei Darussalam’s transformation. I am very pleased to hear that 155 participants, spread over 43 groups, have registered to join this competition.

“This initiative is hoped to tap into the creativity of all participants involved, while at the same time providing everyone with a solid platform to showcase their talent and abilities,” the minister said, adding that he is keen to see the innovative and sustainable solutions that the participants will develop, leveraging the power of ICT.

Creative ideas, if translated into technologies, have the potential to bring about sustainable and effective solutions that can help in the journey into a digital age, he noted.

“How can we leverage this wave of technology and harness it so that it improves our lives here in Brunei Darussalam. We must think about where we can positively transform our lives using technology while also staying true to our national values and principles.

“Good ideas, good processes and efficiency must drive the way digital technologies are used. With technology at the fingertips, it is now much easier to experiment, innovate and continuously improve ourselves.

“Therefore, we should be ready and courageous to try out the new and different. I hope that this competition would lead a change in mindset to be more daring and to become a problem-solver, not just among the participants of the ICT hackathon, but throughout Brunei.”

The minister further pointed out that Brunei’s most important resource is its highly educated and tech-savvy population, which is equally important like oil and gas.

“However, we are largely consumers of technology and its products. We have rarely tapped into the potential that our highly educated and tech-savvy population has to offer.

“To develop contributions towards the global digital economy, there is a need to shift from being a ‘consumer’ of technology to being innovative ‘producers’ that create new technologies, new intellectual properties, new products and ultimately opportunities for growth, contributing to the nation’s economy and even the outside world.

“It requires highly skilled local software developers and programmers to create producers and this competition is hoped to help develop the skills and even inspire participants to become world-class developers and programmers,” the minister said, adding that it may be the start of a journey for many of them, but the potential rewards are surely great.

“We hope that the diversity of participants combined with a competitive atmosphere will drive innovation around multiple perspectives and allow actionable solutions to emerge from your visionary concepts.

“While some of the ideas will even create intellectual property and generate products that the participants can proudly show off to the world, some of them may perhaps even gain access to a segment of the global market.”

On this note, the minister called on the participants to take risks, be brave, explore creativity and create something new. Initiatives like this can also contribute towards employment as if they have a good solution and business plan, it can be a good starting point to become a start-up and a source of a career for themselves and others, he added.

The minister further highlighted that the event also serves as a good example of a public-private partnership (PPP) and that the Government of Brunei Darussalam is in full support of such collaborations with the industry and engagement with the public and business community.

“We all need to work together to foster an environment where we can collaborate in solving key challenges. I would urge everyone here to make full use of this opportunity to unleash your talents and creativity. Be bold and innovative.”

The minister also expressed hope to see more platforms such as B{CODE} in the future to encourage and energise the country towards economic diversification, adding that these initiatives can help empower the nation and strengthen the quality of our manpower resources in the ever-changing digital landscape.

“This competition aims to strengthen our manpower resources by helping to develop the skills of our workforce and enable us to adapt to an ever-changing environment,” the minister concluded.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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