Leveraging the Potential of University-Industry Cooperation

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Based on long-standing and successful cooperation, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design (IEM) from Germany jointly set up two innovation labs with a joint brand “innovationlabs.my”. The cooperation is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany.

The aim is to establish the Fraunhofer model for applied research in Malaysia by promoting the transfer of knowledge and technology between research and industry and the development of innovations at universities. The innovation labs serve as showrooms for research results and provide room for cooperation with local companies.

Based on the laboratories, an innovation network has been established in order to better initiate cooperation between universities and companies. Through different events, both parties are networked, e.g. in order to exchange information on a technology or in a so-called “corporate makeathon” where solutions for technical challenges from companies are developed.

In the course of the project, IoT and data analytics was chosen as the technology focus. In the area of Smart Health, a data-based system for the diagnosis of spasticity is being developed. With the help of a clinical study, machine learning algorithms are developed to recognize spasticity on the basis of data from wireless sensors. The Industry 4.0 area is concerned with retrofitting existing production machines with sensors and radio technologies in order to predict or prevent the failure of a machine on the basis of collected data.

The industry 4.0 competency of Fraunhofer IEM and our industry partners provide support for our innovation labs in Malaysia to excel in the field of Industry 4.0. The successful concept lies in the combination of technology transfer to the small- to medium-sized companies in the region, cooperation and intensive knowledge sharing within an innovation network. The lab offers a creativity stimulating working environment for innovations in research and industrial projects. The interior design and equipment enables new, agile forms of work in interdisciplinary teams and promotes creativity and thinking off the beaten track.

In the Ideation area, workshops can be conducted, for example, to examine a IoT based product or process for innovation potential. The walls can be described and covered (“whitewalls”) and different workshop materials are available. In the creation area, ideas can be quickly transformed into functional prototypes.

Internet of Things (IoT) kits, 3D printers, virtual and augmented reality glasses and other physical equipment are available for this purpose. In addition, a digital infrastructure in the form of data science servers is available, e.g. for teaching machine learning. Both areas are modern and thus also serve as a “showroom” for the research results of the universities.

The innovationlabs.my webinar series has been launched in 2021 and takes place every 2 weeks. The webinar series discusses different, new technologies and how they lead to innovations in practice. What makes it unique is the combination of two perspectives covering the topic of each week: academic researchers provide insight into a technology; industry practitioners provide insights into their challenges and how the applied technology can overcome the challenges.

The target group of the webinar are therefore scientists as well as practitioners, such as CEOs or engineers from companies, physicians or urban planners – depending on the topic. Each webinar has its own topic, 2-3 presentations are given and afterwards, a Q&A session is used for discussion with the audience. The webinars are free of charge and always take place on a Thursday – only pre-registration is required.