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Malaysia Design Innovation Centre has linked up with Instituo Europeo di Design (IED) of Milan, Italy, to bring together the best of the East and West in design and innovation. In the pipeline are similar collaborations with design centres in Germany, the UK and France.

These smart partnerships with international design centres in Europe are in line with MDI’s position as a regional creative hub to promote brand building and innovation and to build a Malaysian presence there.

MDI president Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing said these significant collaborations would boost industry as well as benefit the students of Limkokwing University College of Creative Technology, of which he is also president. Limkokwing is the training, research and content creation arm of MDI and a market leader in creative education now building a strong global presence.

At MDI, various components in the areas of research, exhibition and showcasing are available under one roof to provide a platform for Limkokwing students to interface with industry’s creative professionals. Through MDI, which brings industry into the campus, Limkokwing students learn the ways of industry even while they study.

“These significant collaborations between MDI and top notch designers would boost industry and benefit our students. They would be the platforms to connect with innovative thinkers and designers in Europe,” said Tan Sri Lim.

“Artistry is only one aspect of design. Designers are thinkers. They communicate a message through their designs. They understand the audience, they know their customers, they understand the demographics of audience, they know how people would respond. It’s a business process. Design is good for business. It creates characteristics for a product or service, but before you can do that, you have to understand design. It’s about adding value to a product or service,” he noted.

Among the benefits Limkokwing students stand to gain from the MDI-IED tie-up is they can display their designs at IED and the Italians showcase theirs at MDI and in the process learn from one another.

On the rationale behind MDI, Tan Sri Lim said: “Global competition is such we have to design and brand our own products and services so the world would come to know about the brands we have. We must build our reputation as a quality country capable of producing high quality goods.

“Our manufacturers must think about reaching the global market, starting perhaps with the 500 million people in Asean and three billion in Asia. They must look at building their products for the next 10 to 20 years by practising creative thinking in business. They must put resources into R&D. MDI, which provides the space and support in terms of equipment, facilities and support staff, is where they could hatch future plans to advance their business ideas.”

He said Malaysians should take the cue from the world’s most innovative nations such as the European countries, which may be small in population but own the world’s biggest brands, and from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, which are also among the most innovative nations.

“To succeed in the long term, we have to become an innovative nation. We must be able to appreciate the importance of creativity and innovation in determining a country’s competitiveness.”

Other strategic collaborations complementing MDI’s initiatives are with reputable universities overseas such as Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology. Its Dean of Design Prof Helmut Lueckenhausen believes Tan Sri Lim is on the right track.

“He has always been clear about what he wants to do here - producing a new generation of graduates well equipped for the global environment. MDI is the platform to carry out work in developing research. Through it, more high level engagement with industry will be realised.”

Prof Lueckenhausen is also excited about the fact that MDI is part of a whole network of future planning on design. “The location in Cyberjaya with its futuristic essence is impressive. It’s like saying ‘we must do new things, there must be new understanding’. What makes it even more exciting is that the government is central to all this. MDI will enable Malaysia to bridge with other cultures, other markets, and realise its goals as a hub.”