MaGIC: Partnership and trust - not funding and location - key to innovation supercluster

  • Innovation supercluster must be about creating genuine partnerships.
  • Innovation supercluster "designed to draw people - not force people - to be part"


MaGIC: Partnership and trust - not funding and location - key to innovation supercluster


MALAYSIAN Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) chief executive officer Ashran Ghazi said that they are trying to "hack" a new approach to an innovation supercluster.

First announced during the Global Entrepreneurship Community 2017, innovation superclusters are intended to accelerate innovation in Malaysia by connecting new ideas to capital and markets.

Ashran explained that it's not enough to just have a big budget cantered on a particular geographic locality, which may be the impression given by other similar initiatives. Instead it must be about creating genuine partnerships.

"Otherwise it will just be a very nice macro theoretical perspective," he explains "but it may be a mismatch."

A diverse set of partners

Ashraf was speaking today after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Accenture, Think City and Mimos Bhd to join MaGIC’s Corporate Entrepreneurship Responsibility (CER) network.

"If you look at it, the four of us, we are coming from different industry perspectives," observed Mimos chief executive officer Ahmad Rizan Ibrahim. "However we come together to be part of this supercluster."

Ashran explained the effort was to create a landscape that is diverse. "It's got to be a matrix that makes sense to the entrepreneur, to the community, to the business folks that we are dealing with also."

This is intended to help speed up innovation. As an example, Accenture country managing director Azwan Baharuddin said that the presence of regulators would help lower the cost of development and approvals can be obtained much faster.

"You can actually put regulation far ahead of time and then you can then prepare the market for acceptance," he said.

To date, the initiative has about 40 members. Although Ashran recognises that getting more members will speed up initiatives, he is also wary of overcrowding. "The minute you bring too many people on board, it (goes to) slow mode."

An example: Creating synergy with digital nomads

ThinkCity programme manager Duncan Cave, an organisation revitalising urban development in Georgetown and parts of KL is enthusiastic about the opportunities afforded by the innovation supercluster.

"The great thing about working with MaGIC is that they have ideas that we wouldn't come up with," he pointed out.

One example is the effort to repopulate central KL (around the Masjid Jamek area) whose activity has been affected by people going to live and work in KLCC and Putrajaya.

Cave hopes that together with MaGIC they can create co-working spaces in the city to attract creative types not only from Malaysia but any others from the rest of the world that may be passing through.

"Digital nomads to come in and bring new ideas," noted Duncan. "The synergies between them and local Malaysians should be great."

Ashran agreed, saying that digital nomads catalysed new thinking processes. "That will then be able to yield better economic impact," he responded optimistically.

A culture of partnership and trust

At the end of the day, Ashran hopes to inculcate a culture of partnership between members of the innovation supercluster. 

"It's designed to be inclusive," he said. "It's designed to draw people - not force people - to be part of the supercluster."

Ultimately, he sees that supercluster will be a platform to address challenges between the players, while improving trust.

"Through deeper relationships then you can achieve the larger goal," he concluded.

For the moment, there is still a sense of learning by doing. Ashran intends for plans with actionable items to be produced by the end of the first quarter.

"Internally within MaGIC we have an aspiration of a billion ringgit of economic impact within the next two three years," explained Ashran. These are somewhat modest short-term goals for a greater ambition.

"We can create innovation superclusters that are well-positioned to drive growth and seize opportunity 10, 20, even 30 years from now.”


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