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Saturday, November 21, 2009

'Make George Town innovation hub'

PENANG should make its historic downtown area in George Town a centre of innovation, said a World Bank economist.

By housing research institutes and post-graduate institutions in the area, World Bank economic adviser Dr Shahid Yusof yesterday said that the island state can lure foreign students to its shores.

"As Penang repositions herself, intellectual hotspots in the downtown area can make Penang an attractive place, especially to students from overseas," he said during a talk at the Wawasan Open University in Penang.

The lecture is part of a series of regular talks in Penang organised by Khazanah Nasional Bhd.
George Town's heritage enclave, which has been inscribed on Unesco's World Heritage List, is currently home to a pool of heritage-rich buildings, many of which would be suitable for learning institutions.

Apart from financial houses that have sited their premises in the historic buildings, education institutions like the British Council and George Town College are found in pre-war premises.

In his talk, Shahid, who is an expert on development issues, said that a big policy change is needed to re-energise industrialisation in countries where it has slowed, and to "nudge" it in directions with the brightest long-term prospects.

"The least controversial elements of industrial policy," he noted, "encompass building capacity in areas conducive to industrialisation.

"Capacity is especially critical in transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructure, technical and scientific skills and research," he said.

He said universities have to play a key role in producing quality talent. "There is also a need for these learning institutions to co-exist with some kind of research institutes or think-tank."

By Business Times (by Marina Emmanuel)

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