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Malaysia consolidates two government tech agencies

Two government agencies under Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) will be restructured through a consolidation process that will create a new technology commercialisation agency. The move brings together Technology Park Malaysia (TPM) and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC). This new entity, approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, 21 April 2021, will act as a technology commercialisation accelerator, the ministry said in a statement.

TPM is the only 4th generation technology park in Malaysia with physical incubators and tech infrastructure, while MaGIC has played an important role in cultivating technology start-ups and innovation ecosystem with a wide range of interventions ranging from regulatory facilitation, market access support as well as capacity building, the ministry added.

“This initiative is aimed at equipping the country to be better positioned to tackle issues such as low commercialisation rates, low gross domestic expenditures on R&D (GERD), low R&D spend by the private sector, and overlapping of roles between government agencies,” the ministry said.

A joint task force comprising both TPM and MaGIC, headed by the newly appointed CEO of TPM, who recently relinquished her position at MaGIC, will be set up to oversee the establishment of the new agency.

The development came after Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said in his first year at the helm of MOSTI, he has reviewed areas of priority that required government interventions, starting with the commercialisation agenda. He had noted that the landscape for innovation is continuing to evolve at a furious pace for both tech start-ups and tech giants.

“We have done reasonably well in riding the wave of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and we want to speed up the rate of commercialising our technological and innovative solutions in our push to make Malaysia a high-tech nation,” he said.

In November 2020, another government agency, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), made headlines for the restructuring exercise it undertook to spur innovation and digitalisation in the country. MaGIC was rumoured to be disbanded back in 2018 after Malaysia’s general election on 9 May as the government looked to streamline its budget.

In 2019, the then government was also in the midst of reviewing and restructuring its venture capital agencies to avoid overlaps in financing schemes. The funds involved were Cradle Fund, Malaysia Venture Capital Management (MAVCAP), Malaysia Debt Venture (MDV), Kumpulan Modal Perdana (KMP) and Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC).

Spurring digitalisation in Malaysia

According to another article, a US-based American multinational technology company will invest US$1 billion over the next five years in Malaysia as part of a new partnership programme with government agencies and local companies, the nation’s Prime Minister said on 19 April 2021.

The announcement on what would be the U.S. tech giant’s biggest investment in Malaysia comes after the country in February gave conditional approvals for various global tech conglomerates and state telecoms firm Telekom Malaysia to build and manage hyper-scale data centres and provide cloud services. Investments from cloud service providers will total between RM12 billion and RM15 billion ($2.91 billion-$3.64 billion) over the next five years.

As part of the Bersama Malaysia initiative, the tech firm will establish its first “data centre region”, which consists of multiple data centres, in Malaysia to manage data from various countries, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told an event marking the launch of the programme. Under the programme, the tech company will also assist up to a million Malaysians in getting digital skills by the end of 2023.

The investment is timely as the country saw foreign direct investments (FDI) plunge by 68% last year, the biggest decline in Southeast Asia. Malaysia has presented itself as an investment destination with the Finance Minister recently saying it was looking at incentives to help attract more FDIs.

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