TO BE part of Malaysia’s thriving tech and startup ecosystem, Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings are where most of the action is centred. However, up north from Kuala Lumpur, Penang is also on the move to becoming a more innovative and startup-friendly city.
As one of the Penang state government’s initiatives to propel the city as a tech entrepreneurship hub, the co-working space and collaborative hub @CAT Penang was launched in 2015.
Due to the presence of a strong manufacturing and electronic industry in the state, Penang has developed a strong talent base of hardware engineers over the years.
The programme director of @CAT Penang, Howie Chang says, “We have people who can build electronic chips. But we do need to build our software talent. Most of the software experts here are focussed on proprietary solutions for enterprises.”
Chang is also the founder of AyuhBina, a management consultancy based in Penang, appointed by the state government to lead and grow the startup ecosystem.
“After a rather fruitful career working in Viki and Redmart in Singapore, I made my way back for my family and to contribute to Penang with my experience and knowledge.”
Acknowledging a rift between the Penang and the Klang Valley ecosystem, he says, “The gap can be bridged if government activities are also brought to satellite cities.”
Seed funding for startups by the Penang government
Through @CAT Penang and investPenang, the state government introduced the Penang i4.0 Seed Fund on March 10 with an allocation of RM4 million (US$1 million). The fund offers up to RM250,000 (US$60,599) to startups with the criteria for selection being positive early traction with a minimum viable product, incorporation in Malaysia, company ownership of at least 51% Malaysians, operating less than five years and accumulated revenue not exceeding RM1 million (US$242,395).
The funding programme is divided into three batches of applicants this year with its latest batch announced on Aug 16 during the Penang i4.0 Seed Fund Recognition Day.
A total of 16 companies were awarded funding, with nine companies receiving RM50,000 (US$12,119) and the remainder seven receiving more than RM50,000.
Present at the ceremony was Chief Minister of Penang and the chairman of the Penang i4.0 Seed Fund steering committee, Chow Kon Yeow, who remarked, “I hope that this funding will catalyse their growth providing greater dynamics to scalability of business and they will be able to reach their target customers better.”
The 16 companies that received funding were Active60, Drop, EasyIoT, Edudios, Ekebun, Food Market Hub, Fulkrum Digital, Penang Foodie, Happy Icon Sdn Bhd, LeadinHealth, Loduz, Marchbig, Telebort, Wahdah, Waterbay and Wondernica Technologies.
Applications for the third and final batch begins Sept 24. Interested tech startups can apply here.
Digital News Asia
Photo credit: Digital News Asia