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Tech firms urge govt to bolster startup ecosystem

Most startups in Malaysia do not have adequate expertise in legal or financial matters, says Malaysian Technology Development Corporation CEO Hazani Hassan. (MTDC web pic)

PETALING JAYA: Tech companies have urged the government to look into strengthening the startup ecosystem in the upcoming 2024 budget in order to produce more “unicorns” and stimulate the national economy.

According to Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) CEO Hazani Hassan, the move should not only involve funding assistance but must be implemented holistically to help the companies survive.

“It is not just about funding but it must also focus on the development of the ecosystem, incubation, the drivers and attracting more talent.

“Most of the problems faced by tech companies is that they have the talents, but it is still not enough. Therefore, we need to produce more tech-savvy talent for the industry,” he said.

Secondly, he said tech companies need to have the right advisors.

“Most startups in Malaysia are technically skilled but when it comes to legal or financial matters, they do not have the expertise.

“They know that they have the products and the market. Apart from that, they want to know how the government and its agencies will provide the services to the whole ecosystem,” he told Bernama recently.

Hazani also proposed that the government should focus on the “sandbox” programme to assist emerging technology in getting the required validation to penetrate the market.

A sandbox programme is a programme that tests products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms in a live environment.

“The sandbox programme will become very important because in order for us to bring technology into the market we need to do verification (in terms of technology and market validation), and regulatory.

“Once we have more startups, people in the startup industry can bring in more technology, just like in Silicon Valley,” he said, adding that his wish is to see more startups, and potentially unicorns, in Malaysia.

Besides this, he said other areas that deserve the government’s attention include food technology and the semiconductor industries.

Meanwhile, a local drone tech company, Meraque Group said the upcoming Budget 2024 should focus on providing certain allocations for research and development (R&D) in terms of soft loans or grants for aspiring innovators and startups.

Meraque CEO Razalee Ismail said this is due to the nature of R&D, which involves time and cost that could affect the viability of new emerging technologies.

“We need an allocation for R&D to build more technologies as currently the country relies on imports from China and other countries,” he said.

Bateriku (M) Sdn Bhd, an on-site car battery delivery and installation service provider, hoped that the government could help by reducing the cost of imports due to fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.

Its CEO Azarol Faizi said most local companies had to spend heavily on forex costs, thus preventing them from offering lower prices for their products.

“I hope the government can help to reduce our operating costs and other costs to make it easier for us to provide goods that are really at Rahmah prices,” he said.

The 2024 budget will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 13, 2023.