In May this year, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) launched the Innovation Exchange (MIX) programme which aims to connect corporations partners with startups to accelerate adoption of local innovation for greater value creation.
The ongoing initiative is the latest effort among many to accelerate corporate innovation under which MDEC has engaged with over 85 corporate partners and has uncovered over 77 problem statements, creating nearly 1,300 opportunities for relevant tech companies, signing five memorandums of understanding as well as achieving 13 business deals.
“At MDEC, we recognise that there needs to be a bridge between corporates and startups to unlock solutions and solve current problems faced within variety of industries, which is a 2-prong strategy, solving the problems for the corporates via digital solutions and market access into corporates for startups,” says Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President, Tech Ecosystems and Globalisations at MDEC.
Finding the right partner
According to Gopi, the MIX programme connects some of the most remarkable local startups and tech companies that are within MDEC’s network. These startups will work closely with MDEC and tech companies to develop and apply new innovations, allowing them to boost productivity and efficiency across all business operations.
Through the programme, MDEC will help participating corporations to identify crucial problem statements and pain points within their respective organisations. Following which the agency will advise on the right solutions required for their digital transformation.
Additionally, MDEC will also connect the participants to a pool of over 800 tech startups and scale-ups that can provide solutions or proofs of concept (POCs). The agency will do this by curating a list of relevant solution providers based on the corporation’s problem statements.
Within the MIX programme, the agency will co-create programmes with accelerators, venture builders, and VC communities to unearth and highlight the best technology solutions for potential collaborations.
“We also help participants with the hiring of digitally savvy talents through initiatives such as MyDigitalWorkforce Work in Tech (MYWiT) and the Premier Digital Tech Institutions (PDTI). MDEC will also assist them in the upskilling of existing staff,” Gopi tells BusinessToday.
To date, MDEC has nurtured successful partnerships between large corporations and to name a few would be the likes of HSBC, Hong Leong Bank, Alliance Bank, UOA Group and many more that have successfully partnered with the local tech startups for collaborations.
Areas of Focus
Under the MIX programme, there are seven economic sectors – namely telecommunications, manufacturing & engineering, transport, finance, services, property & agriculture and FMCG that have benefitted.
“This programme sets up the public perception of engaged corporations as a game changer pushing for advancement toward the industry, whilst contributing to the success of the Malaysian startups ecosystem bearing the potential to become a market leader in their respective industry from solutions adopted from startups,” Gopi says.
He also highlights that the programme is exploring opportunities in other sectors such as education and healthcare.
In Line With IR4.0
Gopi says the MIX programme seeks to empower equitable and sustainable digital transformation to support Malaysia’s drive to harness Fourth Industrial Revolution innovations in line with Malaysia 5.0, by bringing innovative ideas and solutions to enrich the industry.
“MDEC will continue to push digital adoption with prominence on 4IR technologies in the areas of skills, interconnectivity, governance and innovation. We are in tune with the needs of businesses and we are confident that we have the necessary partners in place who can further add value and help drive education, development and adoption of 4IR technologies across the board,” he adds.
One of the key initiatives launched by MDEC in 2020, DataKITA, aims to raise the availability, accessibility and usability of data in Malaysia’s society and economy. This will be achieved via four key pillars; knowledge, infrastructure, talent and action.
DataKITA aims to help businesses jumpstart their data transformation journey through a structured approach – leveraging data literacy, data analytics, governance, data sharing and artificial intelligence (AI).
And while the programme has been met with welcoming response, it is not without challenges. One of the challenges is in reaching out to the corporations in terms of creating awareness on digital transformation and how they can kick start their digitalisation journey.
For this MDEC, together with their partners, has launched a series of design thinking workshops and leadership forums to highlight the importance of digital transformation as well as uncovering the pain points that the corporates are facing throughout their value chain that can be resolved through digital means.
Another challenge in its way is the readiness of the corporate to adopt digitalisation. Gopi says this is partly due to the existing talents within the organisation that may not be tech savvy.
“To this, at MDEC and through its Talent divisions, we help to bridge the gap between tech talents in the market and the corporates as well as initiating various upskilling programmes to equip the existing employees with the right tools to lead the change,” he shares.
“We have been working closely with startups in several verticals with the help of Malaysian Accelerators and the startups in Malaysia Digital Hubs which potentially will bring value to the corporates in Malaysia,” Gopi says.