MDEC’s VP Of GGA Talks About GAIN Programme Changes & Challenges

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) launched the Global Acceleration & Innovation Network (GAIN) programme in 2015 to support the expansion of Malaysian and Malaysia based technology companies.

Recently, MDEC held its Global Growth Acceleration (GGA) Kick-off 2020 where over a hundred local and
regional entrepreneurs and digital ecosystem partners gathered to learn about how the new GGA division spearheading GAIN could assist them.

Vulcan Post had the opportunity to speak to Gopi Ganesalingam, VP of GGA, MDEC, to learn more about the changes the GAIN programme has gone through over the past 4 years and how GGA will further benefit the programme as well as its participants.

The Biggest Change To Date

“When the GAIN programme was initiated in 2015, we realised that a lot of our local tech companies were not strong in branding—this became one of our main priorities to fix,” Gopi shared.

The focus was really on technology scaleups, and over the last 4 years, the GAIN team solidified their visibility and amplification strategies, helping many companies venture into regional markets, raise funds, engage in mergers and acquisitions, and attract mentors to come onboard to assist.

“Now that some of these tech companies have grown stronger, from RM100 million to RM1 billion in annual revenue, they are able to take on bigger markets beyond ASEAN like Europe, Australia, and the US, and become mentors to startups and younger entrepreneurs,” Gopi said.

Incidentally, MDEC also had a division called Startup Ecosystem Development (SED) that was tasked
to help startups grow.

Then it occurred to the team that it was only logical for their scaleups and startups to work
together, Gopi said.

“Hence a new division was created called GGA that has been mandated to fuel high potential Malaysian
headquartered tech companies of all growth stages to skyrocket on the global stage.”

Embracing prolific tech startups to leverage on the tried and tested growth-intervention strategies
that they’ve been deploying for tech scaleups this is the biggest change to the GAIN programme so far.

What Do They Look For?

On their website, the GAIN selection guidelines are listed as:

  • Strong financials,
  • Global aspirations,
  • Forward-looking leadership and management team,
  • Scalable/innovative technology products and
    solutions,
  • Majority Malaysian owned and/or Malaysian based.
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Wanting a little more elaboration on what matters to the team, we asked and Gopi replied, “Apart from
having a scalable business model and strong corporate aspirations, there is also an ‘entrepreneurial’ factor that we take into account before onboarding companies into the GAIN programme.”

According to him, they spend a considerable amount of time understanding a company and ascertaining
the track record of its founders before they place their bets (confidence) on bringing them onboard.

“We’ve done really well with popular tech businesses like e-commerce, fintech, etc.,” Gopi commented, “And we’d love to see more IR4.0 companies coming onboard, ones that are in the business of machine learning, RPA (robotics process automation), and data platform businesses that help smart manufacturing.”

More Financial Support

For now, MDEC’s priority with GGA is to stay ahead of the curve as the economy and tech companies continue to evolve, and bring together all players of the ecosystem to benefit the growth and expansion of startups and scaleups.

But there are challenges to be faced, the biggest of which has been “talking to funding institutions”,
Gopi shared.

“We know there is money in the system but personally, I’m not happy with the number of deals that
are coming through.”

So, we need to do two things: We need to get more money invested into Malaysian tech companies, and we need to get foreign venture capitalist money to support us as well.

Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President of Global Growth Acceleration, MDEC.

At the same time, MDEC is actively identifying good GAIN companies that have extraordinary success
stories.

Gopi gave the example of Aerodyne Group, which was only in 2 markets some 4 years ago.

“Today, they have a presence in 25 markets and are the third-largest drone-as-a-service provider globally.
They also recently raised US$30 million in Series B funding.”

“We are also proud to have 3 local tech companies making it in the 2019 Forbes Asia’s 200 Best Under A Billion list that is mostly dominated by firms from China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia,” Gopi added.

The 3 companies are Elsoft Research, Pentamaster and ViTrox, and together they have a combined market value of nearly RM5.53 billion and a net income worth of about RM259.6 million.

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