The global economy will shift from the stage of factor and efficiency driven economy to innovation driven economy. It coherently moves forward with knowledge-intensive activities that are contributed as an accelerated pace of technical and scientific advance. The key components of the innovation driven economies are in greater reliance on intellectual capabilities and at the same time are green industry oriented. In the near future, the industry grows with eco-friendly product and production aspect that are approached by biotechnology, tropical studies, educational innovation, and food security.
In general, In Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, an annual assessment report of the factors driving productivity and prosperity in 144 countries, Indonesia dropped three places to 37 from 34 in comparison to the previous report. Switzerland, Singapore and the United States retained the top three spots in the rankings with Germany and the Netherlands, rounding up the top 5 most competitive economies. Among emerging and developing Asian economies, Malaysia scored at the highest of 18, or better than Indonesia.
Three aspects to be improved in creasing the Global Competitiveness of Indonesia, namely, innovation and also higher education and training. These two aspects can only be done by improving the quality of higher education. Innovation shows that the quality of higher education is still very low. Research produced by universities has not been able to produce competitive products and innovative ways to support industry-based research and development.
Kalimantan supports the largest expanse of tropical rainforest in the Indomalayan realm, of 18.6 % of Indonesia forest coverage. It is the main center for the distribution of genera of Malesian flora and Indomalayan fauna. In the aquatic zone, tropical wetland ecosystems, including mangroves and peat lands, provide a broad array of ecosystem services. These ecosystems are often highly productive and harbor a unique assemblage of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. Biodiversity and utilization of non-timber forest product potency in East Kalimantan are among the main agenda of research that catch international collaboration. Climate change is tightly related to sustainable agriculture, reducing deforestation, and protecting forest, peat lands, and mangroves from ecological disasters. Moreover, East Kalimantan is situated in the vicinity of Makassar Strait which is known as the main path of Indonesian Through Flow (ITF) and connecting water mass from Pacific Ocean to Indian Ocean. This area also famous with ALKI II (the 2nd route among the three international north-south sea routes passing through the Indonesian Archipelago).
With regard to the specific medicinal potency of tropical region, commercial utilization of tropical origin products can be the starting point of overall tropical area conservation. Mutual relations among communities that utilize the tropical area, the national economy, and the tropical area itself can be better established. This challenges Mulawarman University to deepen and preserve the local knowledge, thus producing innovation and better understanding on the interest of people in the region.
Leading sector of the center of excellence for tropical studies in Mulawarman University is currently supported by human resources, i.e. 55 Professors (6%) and 221 Doctors (24%). Mulawarman University is equipped with 25,000 Ha educational and research forest, botanical garden of Samarinda, and field research facility for tropical agriculture. Mulawarman University realizes that the current facilities and human resources are not adequate to play greater role in the context of tropical studies. Therefore, Mulawarman University aims to improve the curricula and to increase the number of researchers and lecturers with S3 qualification by the end of this project through various breakthrough. It is equally important for Mulawarman University to build integrative multi-discipline research and supporting infrastructure to lay better foundation of basic and advanced science in the region.
The framework of Mulawarman University as a “Center of Excellence for Tropical Studies” as a part of the 4 in 1 initiative. This initiative is projected to excel in Teaching and Learning, Research and Innovation, and Staff Development as soft programs and Campus Infrastructure as hard program. With the assistance of this IDB program, the 4 in 1 initiative has two umbrella programs of research consortium and curricula development. The outcomes of this initiative are increase of competent graduates, publication, increase the quality of teaching-learning, excellent services, increased student body, increased academic atmosphere, IPR, prototypes, increased research collaboration, and increased employability. In short, the 4 in 1 consortium will have positive impact on developing nation competitiveness by providing competent graduates, collaboration in research, academic reputation, and excellent services and management.