MDEC teams up with Alibaba Cloud for digital hub

By MARK RAO

Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) has partnered with Alibaba Cloud to establish a digital hub in Malaysia, a co-working space that would position the country as a regional hub for startup companies.

MDEC growth ecosystem development VP Norhizam Abdul Kadir said the new platform would also complement the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) by extending the bill of guarantees under the digital corridor to co-working spaces that have been government-certified as digital hubs.

He said the new hub will also offer tax break incentives and other facilities that would allow startups access to the relevant ecosystem in a less capital-intensive approach.

“Instead of getting startups to come to cyber-centres and cyber-cities, we have introduced a policy to extend the benefits afforded to MSC companies to companies in digital hubs.

“To date, we have certified four of these co-working spaces or digital hubs, namely APW, The Co, Common Ground and WORQ,” Norhizam told the media yesterday.

He said by having Alibaba Cloud in the initiative, Malaysia can also convince startup players that the country can be the regional hub for South-East Asia.

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, will also launch a data centre in the country by the end of this year, which will be the first global public cloud platform in Malaysia.

Its head of Asean, Australia and New Zealand operations Raymond Ma said the country demonstrates high speed of digital transformation, coupled with an ecosystem that encourages innovation.

“We also have good partners like MDEC and, most importantly, earlier this year our group established an electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) with the Malaysian government.

“The Malaysian data centre is to support local requirements and the eWTP agreement — in the future, when we expand, we can also use the country as a base to cover the Asean region,” Ma told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.

He added that every industry has reasons to adopt cloud technology, with industry regulation, high demand for big data analytics and more enterprises looking to leverage on the technology.

Meanwhile, Norhizam said Malaysia is attractive as a regional hub for both local and international startups due to its central location and lower cost of doing business.

“Out of the 10 Asean countries, Malaysia retains the lowest cost of doing business, supported by a business- friendly government.

“The Asean market is also growing, with a population of 625 million people and US$243 trillion (RM1,042.47 trillion) in gross domestic product, and 65% of the population is under 35 years of age and digital natives,” he said.

He said Malaysian and Asean markets also have many unresolved problems, presenting an ideal test-bed for startups and entrepreneurs to introduce services or products to address these needs.

However, he said Malaysia’s infrastructure has to grow to meet demand, with bandwidth in the country needing to improve in line with the growth of innovation.

“We also have to encourage a lot more risk capital, especially from corporations to help grow this ecosystem and startup culture,” he concluded.

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