MRANTI aims to foster growth of high-tech industries in Malaysia with its Global Accelerator Programme
By Henry Chang Jie Shen August 7, 2023
- Foster growth of high-tech industries that align with high-income ambitions
- Alumni urge cohort to take opportunity to build personal relationships with coaches
Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) officially launched its Global Accelerator Programme (GAP) 2023, gathering 20 companies from Malaysia, Turkey, and Russia with the current cohort focused on three verticals - medical & healthcare, agriculture, and drone tech.
MRANTI’s aim is to foster the growth of high-tech industries that align with Malaysia’s economic plan to position itself as a high-income economy with the more ambitious target of growing into an emerging trillion-dollar economy by 2036.
“Our mission is to transform ideas into impact, and we are not only focusing on just the return on investment (ROI), but also return on ideas; because we have a lot of great innovators, great ideas in the innovation ecosystem, but somehow a lot of them actually fail to reach the market or be commercialized. We want to change that,” said Safuan Zairi, Chief Ecosystem Development Officer of MRANTI.
“MRANTI looks into a big cycle or a quadruple helix partnership, because this is not just one party that will feed everybody, it has to come from a full ecosystem that supports the companies coming from the agency, ministry, civil society, etc,” said Syazwani Ismail, Head of Enterprise Development of MRANTI.
As such, the GAP program is geared to fostering collaborations and partnerships between the 20 companies by promoting the inclusivity of entrepreneurship.
A GAP alumni panel was also held, moderated by Muna Irsalina from Cyberview, where two founders who were part of GAP 2022 shared their experiences in the program; Saravanan Chetiar, CEO and consultant in Drone Solution of VStream Revolution Sdn Bhd, and New Jinn An, CEO and Co-founder of Hexa IoT Sdn Bhd.
[Ed: Para updated with additional information.]
GAP facilitated a lot of collaborations for Saravanan. “I got a chance to talk on BFM radio about drone insurance thanks to GAP, which created good traction for me,” he said.
As for Jinn An, “GAP offered a lot of opportunities to showcase our technologies. For example, MRANTI helped bring us to a number of international exhibitions that would otherwise cost between US$2,195-US$3,290 (RM10,000-RM15,000) to join.”
Saranavan (pic) added that the benefit was not just going for international exhibitions, but local ones held beyond the Klang Valley (where most Malaysian startups are clustered). In his case attending an exhibition in Sabah in East Malaysia. “Being a partner, MRANTI understood that they have to bring us to the other regions and expose us and our technology to other players.”
Despite joining GAP, the journey was no less easy for the duo as both were trying to introduce new solutions to the market.
“During early stages, when we were doing something new, especially in technology, we had to create a lot of awareness of the advantages of adopting it which was a big challenge, along with regulations because whenever you want to do something, you have to comply with regulations,” Saravanan said.
For Saravanan, who started in 2016, the first question he used to get was always, ‘what are drones?’. “The awareness of drones at that time was very limited to people who did aerial inspections or photographers.”
His solution was expensive too. “The first quotation I gave a client who wanted to use drones to replace some security guards cost almost RM600,000, and the first demo I did cost me RM7,000 for a half-a-day period,” he added.
For Jinn An (pic), a quote that really hit home for him during his GAP experience was the question that went to the heart of his IoT solution. “Is our solution a vitamin or a painkiller?”
In developing solutions for customers, Jinn An acknowledged that as a software company the biggest challenge he faced was on understanding the customers actual problems. “What do we actually understand about our customer needs? Are we really solving their problems or giving them temporary relief (the painkiller) that is just a service.”
This inability to recognise and thus build a solution that hits at the root cause of a client’s problem was an eye opener for Jinn An, who said he relies on MRANTI’s network - post GAP - to help him understand different verticals of clients he may be serving.
The duo wrapped up with some advice to the current cohort.
“Don’t doubt your dream, validate it,” Saravanan urged.
“When you join GAP, appreciate the experience; leverage it. Don't be shy in asking questions and sharing your ideas,” Jinn An said. “Back then in my cohort initially, I was shy in asking questions in fear of being laughed at, until half way through the program I realized that I should not be.”
He pointed out that, “There are people with different backgrounds and experiences, and especially professional coaches from MRANTI, so don't be afraid of making so-called ‘mistakes’. Once I did ask, people guided me and brought me more opportunities because they understood what I’m doing,” he added.
Reinforcing Jinn An’s point about the coaches, Saravanan said, “The coaches are people who have built successful businesses as professional managers, as leaders and founders, so they know how to guide you. Take that opportunity to build personal relationships with them. To ask them questions in private that you don't want to ask in front of everyone during your session. And leverage on the support team you are assigned as well.”
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