Nanotechnology permeates all sectors. According to Dr Rezal Khairi, the CEO of NanoMalaysia Berhad, it is a technology that will stimulate biotechnology, medical, agro sciences, digital economy and many more. Therefore, it is high time that its position within Malaysian’s future is reevaluated.
Dr Rezal Khairi is a man with a purpose. As the CEO of NanoMalaysia Berhad he holds true to the vision of the company to be a global leader in nanotechnology commercialisation. International Business Review sits down with the man himself to learn how NanoMalaysia aims to propel the nation towards high value and sustainable economic growth.
The Road to Recovery
Even before the onset of the pandemic and its devastating impact to the Malaysian economy. NanoMalaysia was asked by the government to ideate initiatives to help the B40 communities with the ultimate aim of stimulating the economy.
“We are looking at the decentralisation of some of the basic necessities in the country to empower individual citizens,” explains Dr Rezal. The idea is grounded on very humble objectives – to improve access to food security and energy security.
Therefore, NanoMalaysia offers a baseline solution to encourage community driven economic activities. SMURF is a portable system that congregates locally developed nanotechnology into smart urban farming, allowing communities to grow and sell sustainably-grown crops, increasing their purchasing power.
Another method to stimulate the economy is through the introduction of antiviral nano coating which lowers viral the chances of transmission through the air and contact points. This will enhance confidence for consumers to return to public spaces, giving a much needed boost to the retail sector.
Localising the Supply Chains
While recovery is important, Dr Rezal believes nanotechnology has a bigger role to play in the nation’s transition from traditional to new economy, and would help Malaysia reduce its dependency on imported technology.
The agriculture sector, for example, is ripe for nanotechnology intervention. Precision agriculture, drones, sensors, robotics, even the Internet of Things could be greatly enhanced through nanotechnology. “Drones running on normal battery can fly up to seven minutes. With nanotechnology, it can fly up to four hours”, Dr Rezal summarises.
The spillover effects will be massive, affecting the whole supply chain, from the innovators to the battery manufacturers, and even mobile application solution providers which also aids in the proliferation of the digital economy in Malaysia. This is a long-term strategy to localise the supply chains.
Dr Rezal further notes, “The battery technology, once matured could go into electric vehicles and powering homes. These sort of innovation will become the stronghold for the country”.
Making It Mainstream
In October 2019, NanoMalaysia announced plans to develop the first fuel cell-powered electric vehicle (FCEV) for the motorsports industry. “The announcement was aimed to shock the industry”, Dr Rezal reveals.
The contraption was a product of a consortium, or a “coalition of the willing”. NanoMalaysia partnered with a car manufacturer as well as a company that possesses battery and fuel cell technology alongside the former’s propriety hydrogen reactor.
The FCEV will promote nanotechnology as a solution that is relevant, practical and feasible, instead of a technology that is out of reach. This is part of a plan to make the technology relatable and to drive interest of the SMEs, the government agencies and even the ordinary man on the street.
“Selling technology for the sake of technology does not work anymore”, Dr Rezal notes. Therefore, NanoMalaysia is moving from technology branding to product-centric and solution centric-branding.
Nanotechnology offers a stream of endless opportunities to the nation and is set to steer Malaysia to the next level of development. NanoMalaysia is committed to position nanotechnology as a central resource to energise the nation’s economy, paving the way to a better future, by design.