In a one-day seminar hosted by Rafale International and SME Corporation Malaysia, Malaysian small medium enterprises (SMEs) learned about the numerous business and human capital development opportunities available. More than 120 attendees from the aerospace and mechanical industries in particular, came together to explore opportunities to be part of the Rafale network of excellence, arising from the long-term Scientific, Rafale International is a Joint-venture of companies comprising aerospace leaders Dassault Aviation, Thales and Snecma (Safran Group), which is proposing the Rafale multirole fighter aircraft to the Royal Malaysian Air Force in the frame of the MiG 29 replacement project. Welcoming Malaysian SMEs at the seminar, Daniel Fremont, Program Director, Rafale Malaysia said, “Rafale International’s partners have been in Malaysia for many years, developing successful cooperation and businesses in the Defence and Aerospace sectors. Consistent with the Malaysian Government’s ETP and strategies, Rafale’s Scientific, Industrial and Commercial Cooperation Programme will invest amongst others, into human capital development in high value industries to help propel Malaysia towards a high-income nation. Through our offset programme, we hope to participate in Malaysia’s capacity to address new markets and business opportunities through the development of trade-ready workforce with high added value technologies.” Partnership under the Programme is extended beyond large local companies, to include small and medium enterprises (SMEs). At the seminar, SME participants learn about Rafale International’s cooperation perspectives and how they can become a partner in Rafale’s network of excellence, via participation in various aeronautical applications and other crossbreed fields. The three companies are a powerhouse of technological developments in a wide variety of fields, extending beyond the aerospace sector and Rafale is hoping to share expertise with Malaysian companies in particular in the areas of high added value technologies. Sectors such as education, R&D, production and services are expected to be immediate primary beneficiaries. “In fact, Rafale is already investing into education via collaborative partnership with Universities. We are pleased to have already signed MoUs with Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and UniKL. Other universities have been identified to join our Rafale network of excellence,” added Fremont. Y. Bhg. Datuk Ir. (Dr.) Mohamed Al Amin Hj. Abdul Majid, Chairman of SME Corp. Malaysia in his speech earlier mentioned, “Today’s collaborative effort is in line with one of the six focus areas in the SME Masterplan, which is to ensure that the areas of critical constraints are being addressed, namely market access, to achieve the strategic goals of the SME Masterplan.” The Rafale for Malaysia Business Opportunities seminar gave attendees a good insight into the innovative concept of the Rafale through presentations on the multirole fighter aircraft’s operational capacities, logistics support and implementation. Attendees were also briefed on Rafale’s cooperation perspectives with Malaysia. At the seminar, companies in Malaysia with established working relationships with French companies, such as Strand Aerospace Malaysia, Celestica, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty and Dassault Systemes also shared about the partnership between both countries and their experiences. In 2012, Strand Aerospace Malaysia the lead company in the Economic Transformation Programme initiative to grow Malaysia’s Engineering Services industry signed a resourcing agreement with SNECMA (Safran group) and AKKA Technologies at one of the world’s premier airshows in United Kingdom. Naguib Mohd Nor, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Strand Aerospace Malaysia said, “As an established aerospace engineering company specialising in design and analysis of aircraft structures, we look forward to working with foreign partners such as Safran Group to push the boundary of our team’s skills and technical capabilities even further. We are focused on nurturing human capital with the sole purpose of developing Malaysian graduate engineers who can capture a bigger market share of high-paying jobs for Malaysians.” Naguib leads a 100% Malaysian team, responsible for performing structural analysis on primary aircraft structures. Meanwhile, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty’s Director of Industrial Strategy, Herve Blanc said, “Quality and efficiency in the context of aerospace industry implies providing the highest standards in engineering. We are able to meet these requirements through diligent focus on the development and nurturing of Malaysian graduates into industry-ready engineers. This is particularly important in view of our recent investment to build a RM500 million plant in Senawang.” Messier-Bugatti-Dowty is the world leader in aircraft landing and braking systems, and is a partner to 33 leading commercial, military, business and regional airframers. Celestica’s operation in Kulim, Malaysia provides innovative supply chain solutions including system integration, assembly, test, new product introduction, and engineering services to leading customers in the Aerospace and Defense markets. Rafale International will host similar events in other parts of Malaysia to reach out to more local SMEs in the quest to find more Malaysian partners to be part of the Rafale network of excellence. For more information, please visit www.rafalemalaysia.com.