Over the last year, Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI) has facilitated focu group discussions (FGDs) between stakeholders from relevant ministries, policy research organizations, scientific community (Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Indonesian Young Scientist Academy), funding institutions (Indonesian Science Fund), and Indonesia diaspora to discuss the institutional aspect of Indonesia’s research and innovation that complies with principles of effective research governance.
These discussions converge to recommendations on governance of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) to function as coordinator and facilitator, where BRIN would coordinate and mobilize resources between various agencies and actors in research, development, assessment, and application. With that, BRIN coordinates the formation of a national science and innovation ecosystem that requires long-term vision and inter-agency coordination.
A national science and innovation ecosystem requires an agency that plas the special role to support collaboration between parties and multiparties (pentahelix) in order to produce added value from research being developed, both for the purpose of commercialization and production as well as for policymaking. A part of this ecosystem is management of a research endowment fund that is independent, merit-based and competitive.
During an audience with the Minister of Research and Technology/Head of National Research and Innovation Agency, Bambang P.S. Brodjonegoro, along with the Director General for Strengthening of Research and Development of the Ministry of Research and Technology, M. Dimyati, on 27 November 2019, KSI conveyed several points of recommendations produced from FGDs conducted over the last year.
In terms of institutional arrangement, a “Holding Type Operation” is an optimal alternative to ensure that Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN can exercise its strategic function, under which it coordinates Non-Ministerial Government Agencies (LPNK) for research, development, assessment and application (penelitian, pengembangan, pengkajian dan penerapan / litbangjirap) and litbangjirap organizational units in ministries/agencies (K/L) under the coordination of BRIN.
To support the above, development of litbangjirap agencies are to meet the following basic principles: a) Accountabiity and quality of research through competitive research and commissions; b) Promote non-government participation; c) Develop a creative funding scheme and mechanism that does not rely on the national budget.
To support a conducive climate for litbangjirap, the Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN needs to develop a supporting policies, including: a) Synchronization of planning and budgeting; b) Coordination for preparing Work and Budget Plan (RKA) of Ministries/Agencies in litbangjirap of national development priority targets; c) Procedure for control and evaluation of litbangjirap implementation and STEM promotion; d) Jurisprudence: referring to Government Regulation No. 17/2017 regarding synchronization of planning and budgeting.
Directive of Minister of Research and Technology/Head of BRIN
In the warm discussion, the Minister responded to recommendation points with further directives as well as his vision regarding research ecosystem, BRIN and the Endowment Fund.
The structure of BRIN has been decided. Currently, the details for operationalizing the “holding” that has corporate roots to be included into the bureaucratic system is still being studied further and needs refinement. This is to improve the coordination mechanism between litbangjirap and R&D departments of ministries, agencies, and non-ministerial research institutions. From the funding aspect, Ministry of Research and Technology is working to attract the private sector to do research and development and further explore the mechanism for collaboration between the private sector and existing research institutions as well as ongoing collaboration with universities, because super tax deduction policy alone is deemed insufficient. Moreover, the word “innovation” in the acronym BRIN needs to be sounded—which means that innovation and research shall stand as equals. Therefore, innovation in Indonesia will be further improved and given the room to develop.
The Indonesian Government has budgeted around 990 billion rupiah in 2019 to establish the Endowmnet Fund. The proceeds from the fund will be disbursed annually for research activities in Indonesia. In response to that, the Minister stated that the Endowment Fund needs to be managed properly to address several needs. The first is to determine what type of activities shall be funded by the Fund. Is it only to continue existing activities or used for national flagship research?
The second need is to significantly increase the size of the Endowmen Fund. Considering research needs in Indonesia, we need more than the amount in the existing Endowment Fund. He said that there needs to be a study to discuss the Fund’s management scheme as well as possibilities to draw from philantropic funds. This would require a rather simple scheme, where the minister imagines the management to be led by a CEO, a program director, and one investment and financial director. Later on, the investment could be done in other institutions.
In the effort to improve research ecosystem and promote science and technology, KSI sees that there are five main elements that support the function of harmonization and synergy of litbangjirap in the promotion of science and technology. First, consistency and commitment of planning and budgeting at every stage of the science and technology promotion.
Second, integration and effectiveness of achieving the goals of science and technology advancement can be done through multi-actors and multi-stakholders.
Third, careful calculation of science and technology R&D planning and budgeting according to development needs. This is intended to support the goals of national development as well as for commercial purposes.
Fourth, to accommodate and facilitate litbangjirap activities and science and technology innovation, there needs to be preparations for formulating or ways to mobilize funds, institutional arrangements and collaboration.
Fifth, to increase the rate of success at every step of R&D development and science and technology innovation, there needs to be improvements in control and supervision. This starts with the planning-to-plan stage until implementation stage.
KSI will continue to support the knowledge sectot ecosystem in Indonesia to produce quality research for policymaking process in Indonesia. In the future, KSI will facilitate continuing discussions with ministries and agencies and relevant partners to support improvements in the research ecosystem through reformulation of an effective BRIN business process, sustainable research funding through research Endowment Fund as well as a research governance that provides incentives for improving the quality of research in Indonesia.