Innovation company PlaTCOM to be self-sustainable by 2020
By Goh Thean Eu April 30, 2014
- Similar initiatives in UK and US took 8-10 years to be self-sustainable
- Also working with MTDC, Cradle, MBAN, MaGIC and others on funding
NEWLY-established PlaTCOM Ventures Sdn Bhd, a collaboration between Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) and SME Corp Malaysia, has set a very aggressive goal: To be a self-sustainable organisation within six to eight years.
The company, which was officially launched last week, is a wholly-owned unit of AIM. It is a public-private initiative, where the platform is owned by the Malaysian Government and the company is managed by a team from the private sector.
PlaTCOM executive director Dr Viraj Perera (pic) said that similar models in Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States have taken eight to 10 years to become self-sustainable.
“But, we are more ambitious than that; we are more aggressive than that. So I’m looking at a period of six to eight years,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) when asked when PlaTCOM would be self-sustainable.
PlaTCOM, whose model was designed by AIM, SME Corp and the World Bank, is touted to incorporate best practices from successful models such as ISIS Innovation of University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
During the initial stage, it plans to offer its services for free. These include helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) source for intellectual property (IP) from various platforms, including local universities; and also helping universities promote their 'strong IPs' at the national level.
According to Perera, one of the ways PlaTCOM intends to achieve its 2020 goal is to be more proactive in matching IPs with business needs. This means, it will look at its IP database and identify how a particular IP can help a particular segment of business.
For example: if there is an IP that can help water pumps be more energy-efficient, PlaTCOM will 'market' the IP by approaching water pump manufacturers.
“Even if these companies may not be looking for it, we will still approach them as we believe the IP can help them improve their business. We are taking more of an active approach," he said.
Perera believes that it is vital for PlaTCOM to be proactive and aggressive, especially during its initial stage when awareness of its services and offerings is still low.
“If you don’t actively market it, create awareness on what’s on the table, how would companies know there’s a solution available out there?
“And that’s why we are taking more of a market-driven approach; this means, go to the companies and identify what they need,” he said.
Perera said that PlaTCOM will also help SMEs commercialise their IPs.
“I think it’s a crime if you let these good innovations die before [they see] the light of day.” he said.
For now, Perera’s plan is to identify 10-15 companies with “really powerful IPs” that have the most potential to be commercialised. It will then help these SMEs get the necessary funding, and identify the right market for their IPs.
Such an initiative is important as smaller SMEs, which have limited cashflow and resources, always find it hard to strike a balance between commercialising their IP and managing their existing business.
“Many SMEs just don’t have the resources to acquire new IPs, develop a new product or improve existing products. That’s an area we believe we can help them,” said Perera.
When it comes providing the necessary funds for SMEs to commercialise their IPs, PlaTCOM will be working with various parties, Perera said.
“We will be working across the innovation landscape with entities involved in commercialising IP. These include the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation; the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation; Ministry of Finance agency Cradle Fund; the Malaysian Business Angels Network; the Malaysian Global Innovation Centre (MaGIC). and others,” he added.