Nurturing local creative talents in Sabah

BusinessToday speaks to Geoffrey Sinn, founder of Studio ACE Production on nurturing local creatives talents in the digital creative content industry in Sabah. The company believes that underserved talents should be given opportunities to unlock their potential and shine in the global stage. 

1. Can you share more on the Sustainable Creative Talent Incubation Program and some of its milestones?  

It started as an internal training program for our team or artists and animators with goals of growing them into leaders. But later the program expanded into the current incubation program when I realised It is significant to have more animation companies in Sabah to enable the ecosystem.  

The objective of the incubation program is to prepare creative talents to be self-sustainable in the industry as an entrepreneur. Especially in Sabah where there are almost no animation jobs available, they will need to be resourceful and vigilant to survive. 

2. What were some of the milestones achieved by the Programme?  

We reached our first goal when one of the team members won IPCC grant from MDEC in 2019, then followed by another team member whose webcomic has garnered over 40k subscribers online, and our latest milestone is two of our team members established their own company after winning RM50,000 grant from DC3 contest organised by MDEC in 2020. 

3. What are the areas of focus for the Programme?  

The programme mainly strengthens the foundation of the talents’ skill sets and provides entrepreneurship, digital marketing, pitching and presentation, social media management, business 101 and other relevant trainings. 

4. Can you share more on the two startups that the Studio have managed to groom and are there other startups under the grooming of the Studio?  

Orchard Creative Production is the latest “graduate” of the program. The 2 person startup won RM50,000 grant from DC3, a contest organised by MDEC for IP creations. They are currently working their first video game under MDEC’s support.  

Rosdi Bin Othman was a young talented digital artist. He worked on a webcomic titled Fist Wielder has garnered more than 40k subscribers online. Unfortunately, Rosdi passed away in a house fire last year. The webcomic project is currently being produced by other team members.  

We are currently grooming another two more startups that are still in ideation stage. 

5. Why should potential investors and collaborators look into Studio Ace Productions? What are some of  your highlights that you can offer to them?  

Sabah is full of stories and interesting elements that can be made into animation and other creative content. Other countries like Korea, Japan, China and even Indonesia is capitalising their culture and heritage to create content such as dramas and animation.  

These countries are also leveraging on their content to boost tourism, export of local brands and products. I don’t see why we can’t do that, especially Sabah is heavily relying on tourism. If we are able to work hand in hand with the Sabah government agencies and related industries, it will bring exponential growth to all sectors in long term.  

6. Why is the work that you do important and how can it benefit the startup ecosystem in Sabah in the long-term?  

The startup scene in Sabah is very new. Many businesses are still relying on conventional/traditional approach to tackle the market share. Creative startups like ourselves are more tech savvy and ride on the digital trends, we are enabled to access global market via digital platforms  and our businesses are not constrained by locations.  

We hope what we are doing will inspire more startups in Sabah to look beyond boundaries and be more dynamic. 

7. How can private players and government sectors help players like yourself and the ecosystem as well?  

There will be synergy if the government, private sectors and the creative industry work together. Tomb Raider brought billions to Cambodia’s tourism, same with New Zealand from Lord Of The Rings.  

And there are many more great examples of multiplying effects of cross sectors collaboration success from around the world. It will not only benefit the creative industry, it will benefit everyone. 


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