The Sarawak government today officially launched the 27th World Congress on Innovation and Technology and the 6th International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak, otherwise collectively known as WCIT|IDECS 2023, two international technology events held concurrently and targeted at business leaders, senior corporate figures, government representatives, policymakers, civil society, and industry experts.

Today’s opening ceremony of the three-day event at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCKK), Sarawak, Malaysia, saw the convening of more than 10,000 attendees from 46 countries around the world, with the convergence of the events serving as a platform for attendees to discuss, exchange knowledge, share insights, and establish a real, definite pathway forward in driving an innovation, technology and sustainability-centric business ecosystem and community, especially in the face of rapidly evolving 21st century challenges.

Present at the official launch of WCIT|IDECS 2023 was Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg, Premier of Sarawak.

Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg, the Premier of Sarawak said, “Sarawak is at the critical juncture of our next phase of growth, and technology and innovation are key drivers to push forward our vision to accelerate economic growth, social inclusivity, and environmental sustainability.

“To drive Sarawak’s growth, we have put in place policies and facilitate public and private collaborative efforts to drive digital transformation across the facets of our economy. One of the key priority areas for Sarawak is to fast-track the development of our digital infrastructure; after all, connectivity is key for growth, especially for us to remain on track on our digitalised economy aspirations.

“Ultimately, it is the people and communities that we want to benefit, and through our digitalisation efforts, we hope that this will trickle down to the Sarawakian communities that we serve, to build and create a thriving, vibrant digital and date-driven ecosystem for the future.”

In conjunction with WCIT|IDECS 2023, the Sarawak government has also launched the Sarawak Digital Economy Blueprint, with the vision to transform Sarawak from conventional resource-based to an environmentally sustainable technology-driven economy and society.

Under the Blueprint, digital acceleration is a key enabler to strengthen Sarawak’s economic competitiveness, create job opportunities and new generations of digital industries, as well as develop a vibrant tech sector – with the ultimate goal of developing an inclusive digital society and achieving high-income developed status for Sarawak by 2030.

Themed “Fulfilling the Promise of the Digital Age: Innovation and Technology Driving Economic Prosperity, Social Inclusivity & Environmental Sustainability” and “Advancing Digital Economy for Sustainable Development” respectively, WCIT|IDECS 2023 featured global leading and prominent thought leaders, corporate leaders, and award-winning innovators who shared topics around artificial intelligence (AI), sustainability, 5G, autonomous, diversity & inclusivity, smart cities, global ICT policy, and space tech, and more specifically, how they can influence companies and communities that we know today.

Dr Sean Seah, chairman of World Innovation, Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) said, “We are thrilled to see the 27th World Congress on Innovation and Technology (WCIT) 2023 take place in Kuching, a city brimming with potential and charm.

“This choice reflects our ongoing mission to spotlight emerging innovation and tech hubs across the world. With the continual rapid advancement in technology, such gatherings are pivotal in fostering collaboration and ensuring we remain at the forefront of innovation.”

Host association PIKOM chairman Ong Chin Seong said, “Congratulations to Sarawak for successfully organising a world-class technology and innovation event. PIKOM is proud to be associated with the event and has galvanised our 1,000 members and its regional affiliates around the region to, directly and indirectly, support the event.

“Apart from the content, the networking and potential business opportunities are what drive PIKOM to arrange delegates and exhibitors to attend WCIT almost every year. PIKOM had the honour of organising WCIT 2022 in Penang and for this year, we support WCIT|IDECS 2023 as the Host Association.

“We would like to thank WITSA for giving Malaysia the opportunity to host WCIT for 2 consecutive years and SDEC for a great job in putting together an event of this stature.”

As a pre-event in the lead-up to WCIT|IDECS 2023, the Sarawak Government has also hosted the inaugural She-Tech Asia Forum 2023 (the ‘Forum’) on 3 October 2023. The forum focused on women’s representation in the technology industry, addressing the gender imbalance conversation in technology as well as the challenges faced by women in the industry.

The forum also served as a networking opportunity to connect like-minded women leaders and professionals in technology, to encourage collective growth and development.

Dato Sri Hajah Fatimah Abdullah, Minister of Women, Early Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Sarawak said, “The inaugural launch of the She-Tech Asia Forum is a powerful statement of intent, reflecting the Sarawak state government’s fervent belief that for true progress to be claimed, there first needs to be a foundation built upon gender equality and women empowerment.

“We recognise a strong need to continue investing in skill enhancement and educational opportunities for women, in order to directly bridge the gender gap in the technology sector. Today, we also announced the Pledge and Bellina Roadmap, drawn upon perspectives crowdsourced from the diverse audience and participants of the Forum, which will form the backbone and set the tone for us to move the needle for the women agenda, especially in Sarawak.”

Amongst some of the most engaging presentations and key conversations during this prestigious event include:

  • ‘The AI Powered Organisation’ by Mike Walsh, Futurist, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tomorrow and author of three best-selling books;
  • Avatar and the Future Society’ by Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, leading Japanese roboticist and professor at Osaka University, and ATR intelligent robotics and communication laboratories;
  • Changing the World with Code’ by Emma Yang, Founder of Timeless, three-time Carnegie Hall performer, MIT solver, and TEDx Speaker;
  • She Mogul’ by Tiffany Pham, Founder and CEO of Mogul, TV personality on TLC and History Channel, and WSJ best-selling author of ‘You are a Mogul and Girl Mogul’;
  • Robotics, AI and the Future of Healthcare’ by Grace the Robot, the world’s foremost nursing assistant robot designed for elderly care and support, and developed by Awakening Health; and
  • From Efficiency to Empowerment: How AI is Reshaping the World of Work’, a CEO Forum which saw a robust discussion between panellists Catherine Lian, Managing Director of IBM Malaysia, Simon Sun Luyuan, CEO of Huawei Malaysia, Simon Bush, CEO of Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), and Azizah Ali, COO of Microsoft Malaysia, and moderated by Philipp Kristian of Trust the Power of Digital Humanity.

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