MDEC: Time for Malaysian Companies to Show Off To The World

“This year is going to be a year where the task for all of you is to brag,” encouraged Surina Shukri, Chief Executive Officer of Digital Economy Corporation (), at yesterday’s kick-off for the newly formed Global Growth Acceleration (GGA) division.

She was talking to representatives from Malaysia’s leading tech , including participants in MDEC’s Global Acceleration and Innovation Network (GAIN) programme. “This year going forward, we will be upping our agenda as far as internationalization is concerned.”

Surina explains that building a robust digital economy requires developing the right talent, having businesses that are digitally empowered and encouraging more digital investments. “I’m talking about everybody adopting digital, and people investing in digital.”

Despite having 65 companies in the GAIN programme generating US$1 billion (RM4.1 billion) worth of exports since 2015, the exposure of this success could still be better. “We’re competing for customers, we’re competing for investors and competing for media attention,” she reminded the audience. “Therefore it’s important to always be celebrating our success.”

Labelling Malaysia as “the heart of digital ASEAN”, Surina said that Asia as a whole is now recognised by the world as the most promising area of growth, and that Malaysia should not miss its opportunity with the interest generated. “We have the tailwind of that, (of) having conversations and investors asking more questions about Southeast Asia.”

In line with this need to raise awareness, Surina points to MDEC’s recent partnership with Startup Genome, to better assess and publicise the nation’s startup ecosystem.

“My view is that, Malaysia, KL, and all of all of Asia, it’s a very exciting place to be,” she enthused.

“There’s a lot of really great stuff happening,” she continued, “But we haven’t really spent the time to talk about it.”

Amplifying Malaysian companies worldwide

“We cannot be shy,” concurred Gopi Ganesalingam, MDEC VP Global Growth Acceleration (GGA). “We need to tell our story loud – very loud.”

Gopi said that there are recognised successes the country can do better showing off. “Last year we had three companies that were listed in Forbes Under A Billion,” he said. “Singapore had two.”

Gopi’s team is already scouring Malaysian digital hubs for exciting new startups. “These are amazing companies (and) we see some good products coming out of these hubs,” he said.

“We want to start amplifying this. We want to take these good companies, we want to show them to the bigger companies to see if they want to partner with them, or to invest in them or whether they want to grow them,” he said.

“Then we’ll have Malaysian headquartered companies coming out of Malaysia, going on their own, and going global in our programme.”

Surina also alluded the government’s clear policy in encouraging local companies to go digital, including the recent budget that allocated more than RM1 billion worth of incentives in the form of matching grants. “If our (brick & mortar) companies and if our consumers, they don’t know how to use digital… pun tak jalan juga lah!” she says using a colloquial Malay term that means, “things won’t move then”. Her point being that the budget incentives are to encourage Malaysian corporations to accelerate their digital adoption which in turn will open up business opportunities for Malaysian tech companies to assist them.

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