- MDEC wants to raise the visibility of local success stories
- Aims to attract foreign talent and companies into the country
THERE is little doubt that Southeast Asia is the fastest growing internet economy in the world. By that definition, the region is a very exciting space for any company to be in and local companies should definitely get in on the action.
Speaking at Wild Digital 2018 in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) vice president of enterprise development Gopi Ganesalingam says that it is imperative for global companies to emerge from Malaysia.
He asked whether Malaysia needed local tech champions in the first place. Gopi feels that success breeds success as bigger companies generate more revenue and this, in turn, attracts talent into the ecosystem.
He makes the case that Malaysia is very attractive in the region as the cost of doing business is merely one-third compared to its neighbours, hence allowing companies to break even much faster.
“With ready access to talent, money and a friendly government, there are plenty of reasons why companies should consider re-domiciling their headquarters to Malaysia,” he said.
However, Gopi observed that many Malaysian companies lack branding and visibility. The region just isn’t recognising them, even though they are doing great jobs and may actually be leaders in Asean. MDEC’s challenge has been to unearth these diamonds in the rough and bring them out in the open.
According to him, MDEC has taken a two-pronged approach towards raising the prominence of local startups and scale-ups. This is done through programmes and platforms like the Global Acceleration and Innovation Network (GAIN) that seek to catalyse the expansion of local technology SMEs to be global players by looking at market access, leadership and scale-up capital.
But because startups and scale-ups have different needs, MDEC has looked at other ways to help startups and one of them is Titan, a platform for startups to upload a video of their pitch to a platform that can easily be accessed by potential investors, funders and accelerators.
Mentorship also represents a significant part of MDEC’s efforts to cultivate better entrepreneurs. They have sent mentors to Silicon Valley to learn best practices with some coming back changed and ready to share lessons learnt with young entrepreneurs.
“Mentorship is critical because mentors can help them leapfrog over past mistakes and cut their readiness to market by half,” said Gopi.
It is not just about building local champions to take on the region but also about attracting the best companies from around the world to set up shop in Malaysia.
To that end, MDEC has looked at establishing Digital Hubs that offer startups facilities to grow their business in Malaysia and globally. This includes access to high-speed broadband, funding and a workforce-ready ecosystem.
Complimenting these are initiatives like the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Programme (MTEP) that looks to attract talented entrepreneurs to come to check out the local ecosystem.
According to MDEC, last year they received over 200 applications and have issued 50 passes already. The pass grants interested entrepreneurs a one- or five-year stay in the country to hopefully set up their company here.
Incidentally, MDEC collaborated with Catcha Group to organise the one-day Wild Venture Tech Conference that took place alongside Wild Digital 2018 where there were presentations to educate corporates and investors on the latest government regulations and tax incentives while encouraging them to invest in tech/ digital companies.
Gopi added that the initiative serves as an opportunity for traditionally non-tech focused corporations to expand and put their stake in the digital economy.
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