Prime Minister Hun Sen on March 26 called for all stakeholders to step up collaboration and allocate more funds and resources for science, technology and innovation (STI) towards bringing and keeping the workforce up-to-speed with tech developments.

The premier was speaking at the opening ceremony for the March 26-28 “1st Cambodia-International Science, Technology & Innovation Expo” held at the Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Centre and organised by the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation.

The event also marked the launch of the inaugural edition of the planned-to-be-annual National STI Day, which the ministry bills as a sort of support for government policies and roadmaps linked to the Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework 2021-2035, towards bringing the Kingdom into the upper-middle income and high-income groups by 2030 and 2050.

Hun Sen reflected on the dramatic expansion seen in recent years of the Cambodian ecosystem for business-related tech training, which he said now encompasses local seed investors, private equity and investment funds, business training support centres, start-ups and co-working spaces.

Some institutions of higher learning have introduced specialised training programmes for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, opened direct liaison offices with businesses, and set up new business and start-up centres, thereby improving the nation’s innovation landscape, he said.

“The Royal Government gives high priority to the development of human capital in [STEM], by encouraging the next generation to choose STEM, improving the standard of education and training at all levels, implementing strategies to attract and retain outstanding individuals, strengthening research and development, and establishing a national research fund for [STI].

“I encourage higher education institutions to further increase the number of support centres that offer courses for new businesses and start-ups.

“I also highly encourage national and international investors to [lend a hand] to entrepreneurs and businessmen by acting as seed investors and setting up private equity and venture capital funds,” Hun Sen added.

Industry minister Cham Prasidh affirmed that his ministry is committed to working with other government agencies and institutions to encourage “highly effective” development in the STEM domain, as one of its “primary missions”, and remarked that positive tech development will significantly bolster economic growth in the Kingdom.

“The pertinent ministries and institutions, as well as the National Council of Science, Technology and Innovation [NCSTI], are working together to overcome challenges,” he assured, sharing that his ministry is currently preparing a draft technology transfer law and a number of related sub-decrees.

Speaking to The Post on March 26, Cambodia Digital Tech Association (CDTA) president Chhin Ken opined that the country’s technical training ecosystem is performing rather well.

He commented that the private sector has made substantial contributions, through direct training in the workplace, courses at educational institutions, and overseas programmes.

With more funding from the government and private sector, technological progress in Cambodia will “move more quickly in line with the general trend” of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, he argued.

Although the Kingdom’s technological prowess may be “marginally inferior” to that of other regional countries, the local community is currently making an effort to catch up, Ken claimed.