BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Two local varsities have inked a deal with Panasonic Corporation — one of Japan’s leading electronics company — to explore new possibilities in developing tech-oriented products for Bruneian startups.

A signing ceremony was held at the Embassy of Japan yesterday where statements of intent (SOI) were signed between Panasonic Corporation and Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) as well as Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB).

Japanese Ambassador to Brunei Motohiko Kato said that Panasonic Corporation has decided to make its intellectual property rights available for countries in Southeast Asia including Brunei and Singapore.

He hoped that the two varsities would look into the intellectual properties owned by Panasonic that can be used to develop product prototypes, particularly those that could create to new enterprises or startups.

The idea is to leverage on advanced Japanese technology to help universities create new and competitive products.

“The model to support startups by providing both intellectual property and technical support is beneficial to both parties,” said the Assistant Vice-Chancellor of UBD during the event.

Pg Dr Mohammad Iskandar Pg Hj Petra added that the university has been in discussions with the Japanese External Trade Organizations (JETRO) since September, in which Panasonic was one of the companies that has been identified as “perfect match” for collaboration.

“Panasonic Corporation is a major supplier to the intellectual property market with over 180,000 granted patents and 690,000 patent applicants.

“At UBD, we have quite a number of patents filed, and we are always reviewing these patents, to match them with potential collaborators or industries.¬†From this collaboration [with Panasonic] what we can expect is to find synergy between patents owned by UBD with patents owned by Panasonic to close the gap between research and product development.”

Considered a pilot project, one of the goals of the collaboration is to create a conducive environment for innovation, one that can encourage “technopreneurship”, as a means for the country to diversify from oil and gas.

Assistant Vice-Chancellor of UTB, Hj Ady Syarmin Hj Md Taib, said that the university is very keen on collaborating with the Japanese electronics company, particularly with the knowledge and technology transfer to UTB as it aims to produce more technopreneurs.

He added that with signing of the SOI with Panasonic, the local varsities are now in the position to engage the Japanese company with more dialogue and discussion, to explore what the university academics are capable of producing with the available intellectual properties.

Panasonic and the universities will commence the project immediately, in hopes to find the best scheme for collaboration. It is intended to boost the competitiveness as well as empowering local startups.