Malaysia Tech Week 2019 kicks off with a fanfare of diversity and innovation
“MALAYSIA, as you know, is a diverse nation comprising multiple races, religions and cultures. We celebrate that diversity; it is our strength and we are proud of it. Innovation thrives when there is diversity and openness,” said Communications and Multimedia Malaysia Minister Gobind Singh Deo.
The minister was speaking at the launch of Malaysia Tech Week (MTW) 2019, the inaugural city-wide festival covering the breadth of the digital economy ranging from artificial intelligence to the Islamic Digital Economy.
Diversity can certainly be found here. At its June 18 launch, the event saw a gathering of over 1,000 top local corporations, ecosystem partners, investors, regulators, tech startups and international delegations.
Conceptualised by MDEC and supported by industry partners, the festival will feature innovation showcases, pitching platforms, business-matching opportunities and offer access to Malaysia’s tech ecosystem.
“Malaysia is charging forward and upward in the technology and digital space, and MTW19 is a clear indication of how far we have come and can still advance. I hope MTW19 will enable deep networking, wide connectivity and lasting partnerships amongst all digital and technology players. This industry needs your passion, innovation and investments to grow and evolve,” Gobind said.
MDEC chief executive officer Surina Shukri added: “MTW19 is a first-of-its-kind event where the local and international tech communities not only get to immerse themselves in everything digital but also experience what Malaysia has to offer.”
Capitalising on the right track
In his speech, Gobind said that since the inception of the Multimedia Super Corridor in 1996, Malaysia has gone “Seriously Digital”. From 1997-2018, MSC’s Cumulative Total Investment has reached US$79 billion (RM330 billion), with export sales worth US$39.74 billion (RM166 billion). More importantly, he added, the MSC has created a total of over 180,000 jobs.
Malaysia has also awarded over 4,000 companies with MSC Malaysia Status, which gives them access to incentives, rights and privileges.
Seventy-four percent of these companies are Malaysian-owned, while 26% of them are foreign-owned, including 180 MNCs.
“These numbers clearly show that Malaysia is a country with a mature digital economy and is a preferred choice for ICT and digital companies from all over the world,” he said.
Beyond the numbers, Gobind said that Malaysia’s multicultural and multilingual background made it a country that has a low language barrier. At the same time, the government has implemented initiatives to ensure Malaysians remain competitive and meet industry standards.
These initiatives have produced global validation. Gobind said that statistics from industry sources state that approved foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first quarter of 2019 surged by 73.4% to US$5.6 billion (RM23.3 billion) from US$4.05 billion (RM16.9 billion) a year ago.
Malaysia is also ranked second when it comes to ease of doing business within Asean, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2018. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018 also ranked Malaysia second in global competitiveness among Asean countries.
Gobind also said that the government believes in a more consultative approach when it comes to collectively harnessing the strength and energy of the digital start-up ecosystem. He emphasised the Malaysia Innovation Policy Council (MIPC) that was formed earlier this year to act as a platform for the private sector to propose digital tech initiatives.
The MIPC is chaired by MDEC with participation from industry experts and other government agencies that include MaGIC, Cradle and Futurise.
“I hope you will use this council to suggest ways that we can streamline processes, improve access to markets and funding, and revise regulations to ensure that the government is able to cater to the fast-changing needs of the technology ecosystem,” he said.
“In conclusion, I hope MTW19 will build networks and lasting partnerships among all digital and technology players. This industry needs your passion, innovation and investments to grow and evolve.”
During the launch, it was announced, that as an aim to accelerate Malaysia’s digital economy, a new sub-category under Professional Visit Pass (PVP) for Digital Freelancers has been presented to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
This offering is meant to attract more high-skilled talents in emerging technology such as AI, blockchain and cyber-security by allowing them to work with Malaysian technology companies for three to 12 months.
MDEC will be facilitating the Digital Freelancers and working together with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration Department.
This initiative is supported by MDEC’s industry partners Jobbatical, an Estonian-based recruitment platform that helps software engineers, creatives and marketeers find jobs around the world; as well as NEM, a foundation that aims to provide blockchain technology platforms to enhance enterprises.
Other local and regional partners of MTW19 include Maxis, IBM Malaysia, U Mobile and Razer Inc. Notable, Razer Fintech – the financial technology arm of Razer Inc – is the official e-wallet for MTW19 festival.
As part of the event, Razer Fintech has a giveaway of a Razer Edition 2019 Proton Iriz. One lucky Razer Pay user in Malaysia will be able to win a special Proton Iriz that is decaled in Razer’s green and black aesthetic. Each transaction made with Razer Pay will count towards one entry. The giveaway campaign ends on June 30, 2019.
“Malaysia is our hub for building out our fintech innovation across the region and alongside this, we will continue to invest in and nurture next-generation technology leaders of Malaysia,” said Razer Inc chief strategy officer Li Meng Lee.
There’s no doubt of diversity in the MTW19. One can surely hope to find more innovation in the days to come.