by Professor Ir Dr Zainuddin Abdul Manan and Professor Ir Dr Sharifah Rafidah Wan Alwi

We are privileged to have been part of three exemplary university-industry consortiums (UIC) from among world-leading universities in Europe.  Our experiences with Centre for Process Integration (CPI) @University of Manchester, Centre for Process Systems Engineering (CPSE) @Imperial College of London, and Computer-Aided Product and Process Engineering Centre (CAPEC) @Denmark Technical Universities have inspired our passion and success in attracting more than 2000 collaborators to work with UTM in research and education.  We attribute this achievement to our relentless efforts of driving values in our collaboration with industry, government, society/non-governmental organisations and other universities, and in building a compelling case on how collaborators could benefit from academia in areas of talent development, research and innovation, global network and community outreach. Here are my top ten list of what’s in it for our aspiring collaborators.

Area 1: Talent Development

1) Return on Investment on Talent

A university is not only the place for private/public sectors to scout and attract fresh talents. It is also a promising market for companies to promote their brands, products and services. Hence, Multi-National Companies (MNCs) like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Shell, Exxonmobil, Mitsubishi and Petronas make tax-deductible contributions to universities’ endowments, giving donations and sponsoring chair professors, among others.  Doing so enable companies to have their products, services and brands visible, and sustainably resonate among universities’ future work force, community and global networks.

2) Partnership in Talent Development

Universities work with stakeholders to co-develop future-ready talents and workforce of the society. UTM, for example, officially appoint, honour and incentivise individual experts/entrepreneurs from industry, government, NGOs as adjunct lecturers/professors, advisors and assessors. We also engage captains of industry to share knowledge and experiences, and to mentor university leaders under the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) CEO@Faculty programs.  Such symbiotic partnership is vital in developing not only future-ready talents, but also future-ready educators and flexible, lifelong, 4IR-ready learning and teaching curriculum and eco-system that ultimately benefits society.

3) Access to Flexible and Lifelong Education

Collaborators can have access to flexible, lifelong quality-assured education offered by universities.  For example, UTM School of Professional and Continuing Education (UTMSPACE) that was established in 1993 enabled access to more than 160,000 working people who pursued degrees and programs on flexible modes. UTM, through UTMSPACE is the only Malaysian university that offers part time engineering degree that is accredited by the Malaysian Engineering Accreditation Council (EAC) and the Washington Accord. UTM also offers flexible programs such as part time diploma, executive programs, modular and special programs, industrial master/PhD through residential as well as blended, online distance learning as well as remote supervision. Collaborators benefits from program customisation, flexible supervision, credit transfer and discounts that further boost their chances of study success.  Learners with qualifications lower than the requirement may apply to enrol in UTM academic programmes, using equivalent prior working experiences through UTM APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning) Centre.

Area 2 – Research and Innovation (R & I)

Comprehensive R&I eco-system, especially at research-intensive universities, provide collaborators access to R & I talents, grants, physical facilities and technology incubators.

4) Access to R & I talents from among expert researchers, research officers, postgraduate and undergraduate students ensure that there are dedicated human resources to work on joint projects under academia-industry close supervision.

5) Grants for research and development, prototyping, commercialisation, capacity building and lifelong education are available from the government, universities’ local and international private and public institutional networks in the form of matching or full funding. Companies investing in R&D in collaboration with universities can receive tax deductions from the government.

6) Physical facilities such as accredited R&D labs and equipment allow collaborators to conduct experiment, product sampling, analysis and testing. Collaborators could also leverage on universities well-equipped computational labs and data centres, digital and software solutions, and benefit from affordable access to various types of facilities to conduct seminars, workshops and conferences.

7) Technology Incubators established as science and technology parks provide the safety net for start-up enterprises to cross over the “death-valley” and healthily grow their businesses.   At such science parks, start-up enterprises (SME) have extensive access to mentoring and capacity building, commercialisation funds linked to universities, R & I resources, facilities and business network.

Area 3 – Professional & Global Network

8) Work with Certified Professionals, Experts and Consultants 

Malaysian public universities are expected to achieve 30% certified professional practitioners from among its staff by 2020, as part of the academic quality requirement. At UTM, for example, nearly 30% of its academic staff are practitioners that are certified by various professional bodies.  Among others, they include professional engineers, chartered engineers, certified technologists, chartered scientists, certified energy managers, registered electrical energy manager, certified software tester and certified safety and health officers who not only possess ample industrial experiences, but more importantly, legal authorities to practice, provide consultations, and manage projects in their areas of expertises. UTM collaborators have leveraged on this rich pool of certified professionals through various forms of partnerships that have benefitted their businesses.

9) Access to a Global Network

Establishing a global network is part and parcel of advancing a university’s core business of education and R&I. UTM, for example, forms bilateral, multilateral and special interest partnerships with more than 500 universities and institutions across 70 countries.  Collaborators can leverage from universities’ global network for business expansion, sales and marketing of its products and services, people recruitment and development, R&I collaboration and even for organising corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs (see next).

Area 4 – Corporate Social Responsibility

Prof. Ir. Dr. Zainuddin bin Abdul Manan

10) Leverage on High-Impact and Sustainable University Social Responsibility (USR) programs 

Companies conduct Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs to demonstrate their commitment to give back to society. USR programs, in contrast, is part of a university’s academic curriculum and mainstream research activity.  USR’s impact to community is objectively assessed and used to measure a university’s academic excellence and research achievements. Most USR are therefore designed as sustainable, long term high-impact programs as opposed to once-off activities. Signature USR quadruple helix partnership like Service Learning Malaysia (SULAM) and community-driven research like Johor Innovation Valley (JIVe) spearheaded by UTM synergise university, industry, government and community to yield multiple benefits of enhanced corporate image, widened global network while expending minimal shared resources.

Image result for rafidah utm

Professor Ir Dr Sharifah Rafidah Wan Alwi


Over the years, more than 2000 public and private institutions had benefited from collaboration with UTM. Having access to UTM’s R&I eco-system, network, resources, technology and know-how allow collaborators to add value, improve efficiency, raise competitiveness and drive innovation that ultimately enhance the image, profitability and sustainability of their businesses.

Industries and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the UTM Engineering-Industry Innovation Day (EID) on September 10-11, 2019 to be part of UTM R & I eco-system. The event that will be graced by YB Yeo Bee Yin, the Honourable Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Innovation and Climate Change (MESTECC). For more information on how to initiate collaboration with UTM, please contact UTM Centre for Community and Industry Network (CCIN).



Professor Ir Dr Zainuddin Abdul Manan is the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and International), UTM and Professor Ir Dr Sharifah Rafidah Wan Alwi is the Director, UTM Process Systems Engineering Centre.