PSDC’s Innovation Conference is Back

By Ooi Tze Xiong

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Dr. Khoh Soo Beng, the Co-founder & Director of PMO Innovations, is one of the co-organisers and speakers of the Innovation Conference.

INNOVATION HAS BECOME an even more highly prized commodity since Industrial Revolution 4.0. As the premier skills development institute in Penang, Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) has organised multiple events to unlock the state’s potential for technological innovations.

In 2019, PSDC held its inaugural Innovation Conference, bringing together 150 delegates from both the public and private sectors, as well as academia. Themed “Realising Tomorrow’s Dreams, Today”, the event featured 15 industry leaders showcasing innovations in a continuously evolving corporate landscape. Among the speakers was Tan Eng Tong, who has since assumed office as PSDC’s current CEO.

After a three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, PSDC’s Innovation Conference is finally back. This second iteration, held in conjunction with Penang’s Golden Jubilee of industrialisation, shifts gears towards cultivating innovation among local industries as well as improving environmental sustainability, among other things. This year’s theme is “T.H.I.N.K. 4 SUSTAINABILITY” – T.H.I.N.K. stands for a Transformative, High-technology, Innovative, Nifty and Knowledgeable workforce. The conference also brings together industry leaders to commonly forge sustainable innovation management and skills.

Speakers at the Innovation Conference.

“A lot of new innovations don’t take into account environmental sustainability. But now more than ever, we need to move beyond the 50 years of industrialisation. An agile, transformative workforce has become even more crucial," said Dr. Khoh Soo Beng of PMO Innovations, one of the co-organisers of the Innovation Conference. “Our industries should move away from innovating just for innovation’s sake and embrace more sustainable and environmentally friendly approaches."

Keeping Pace with Regional Competition

A keynote speaker in the upcoming conference, Dr. Khoh has an illustrious background in various disciplines, such as engineering, 6-Sigma and quality management standards. With decades of experience under his belt, he thinks that Penang, and by extension, Malaysia, has a long way to go where innovation is concerned.

“Penang may have grown from strength to strength over five decades, but some enterprises remain stuck at the bottom end of the value chain. The reason? We are still largely the end users of technology. We import technology from suppliers overseas and then innovate,” he said.

This dependency on imported technology, he added, suppresses Malaysia’s capacity for innovation. “Malaysian industries are exposed to patent issues and other whims of the original creators. Similarly, our varsities are unable to move up the ladder, innovation-wise. Copy pasting technology also leads to complacency as it is easier to import technology than create something ourselves.”

Compounding matters is the lack of know-how in managing innovations. “Many will talk about innovation as though it is the byword for every successful business. But what about the nitty-gritty details? I once asked a forum whether they are looking for a solution to a problem, or if they are a solution looking for a problem. On top of that, to innovate, resources are crucial, whether it’s funding or brainpower.”

The upcoming Innovation Conference aims to bridge the gap between Malaysia and the rest of the world in innovation, as well as bring into focus the importance of innovation management. “There are several forums on innovation in Penang itself, held by both the public and private sectors. What sets us apart is the local and foreign expertise we are bringing to the table, each with years of corporate experience. We hope to impart the best practices worldwide and inspire local enterprises to create and move up the value chain.”


The conference will feature Dr. Khoh and 15 other notable speakers who are slated to share their experiences and findings on September 27 and 28:

27 September

28 September

The registration fee for this two-day event is RM1,200, with special offers being available for small and medium enterprises (50% discount) and groups of three or more (RM700 discount per person). For further information, please visit

Ooi Tze Xiong

a Xaverian, currently works at a multinational firm at Bayan Lepas. After years of sojourning in cities across Malaysia and Singapore, he eventually decided to call Penang home.