Twenty years ago, the word “innovation” was not used as much as it is today. Not just in Malaysia but worldwide. As countries enter into recession and competition gets stiffer, companies are constantly being asked to innovate. Positions such as Chief Innovation Officer (Xerox®), Global Innovation Strategy Lead (PwC®), Global Product Innovation Lead (PwC®) and Director of Intellectual Property Strategy (American Express®) have sprouted in recent years. A search on LinkedIn® for the term “Innovation Manager” revealed 78,000 plus jobs! McDonalds® has a position called “US Retail Experience Innovation Manager”.

When asked what “innovation” means to her, the Innovation Manager at a top consulting firm in New York mused, “As the pace of how people think and execute accelerates, innovation is critical to sustaining any competitive advantage that individuals and firms have in the marketplace.

It seems our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has the same view. On 25th February 2015 , he told the nation “The idea is to innovate, not compete by offering lowpriced items”. Then recently, on 7th March 2015, he said “I hope to see more Malaysians put on their creative hats and explore how they can come up with innovations that will benefit the economy and mankind.” Innovation is definitely key to a country’s growth and development. There has been enough studies to evidence this and the total number of patent applications in the country is a good measure of the growth and development of a nation.

In Malaysia, there were 1,439 patent applications filed last year. Statistics were recently released by the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) on our country’s top 20 patent filers (see Table 1).

Table 1: Top 20 Malaysian patent filers in 2014

Click here to view table.

Similar to previous years, the top innovators in the country are the universities and research institutes. University Malaya (our oldest university and a highly esteemed one) ranked the highest with 162 patents filed last year. University Malaya usurped MIMOS Berhad from its position as top filer. MIMOS, an agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) that is involved in Information and Communications Technology, Industrial Electronics Technology and Nano-Semiconductor Technology, was the top filer for three years in a row – 2011, 2012 and 2013 with 102, 107 and 120 patents filed respectively.

The International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Malay for Indigenous People’s Trust Council, also known as MARA), University of Science Malaysia and Pixart Imaging (Penang) Sdn Bhd are the new movers and shakers on the 2014 list and are certainly worth a mention. Pixart Imaging stands out as they are the only non-government-related private limited corporation in the list.

Pixart Imaging was established in 2012 and is owned by Pixart Imaging Inc in Taiwan, a provider of CMOS image sensors and related image application solutions, including image sensing technologies that are suited for optical mice, gaming devices, internet-ofthings devices, healthcare and wearable electronics, digital cameras and such.

The Top 20, as a whole, filed 781 patents last year which is 54% of the total patent applications in Malaysia in 2014. With such impressive statistics, we congratulate the Top 20 and wish them all the best in commercializing the rights they are securing. As we all know, securing patent rights is the first step towards success. The big buck$ are raked in through smart commercialization. So be as sexy as you can be – innovate and commercialise away!