Malaysia’s top investment destination aims to build a robust digital ecosystem by 2025 that will empower businesses, nurture local talent and attract technology leaders from the world over.
Selangor has been Malaysia’s top investment destination for three years running, having received RM18.4 billion (S$5.9 billion) in foreign and domestic investment in the manufacturing sector in 2020 alone.
While its strong manufacturing sector has contributed greatly to this achievement, Selangor is looking to bolster its digital economy in its vision for the future. This is in line with the Smart Selangor Vision 2025, which names four domains – smart government, smart economy, smart community and smart digital infrastructure – as being key to the creation of a thriving digital ecosystem, set to be complete in four years’ time.
“At its core, Smart Selangor is an initiative by the state to empower its people, businesses and the public sector by optimising digital technologies towards delivering the Smart State objectives,” explained Mr Hasan Azhari Idris, chief executive officer of Invest Selangor, the government agency providing advisory services as well as start-up and expansion assistance to investors in the state.
INVESTING IN A DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM
Selangor’s commitment to its digital vision of the future is evident in the slew of initiatives, funding allocations and investments it has made in recent years. Selangor’s 2021 state budget included the allocation of RM369 million – nearly one-third of the state’s development fund – for digital infrastructure initiatives and programmes.
Said Mr Hasan: “One of the programmes is the establishment of the Selangor Innovation Fund, to which RM100 million has been allocated to spur the growth of start-ups in the state through venture capital investments. Another RM5 million was earmarked for the SME Digitalisation Matching Grant, a dedicated initiative to encourage more micro and small businesses in the state to adopt digitalisation in their operations.”
Selangor’s digital efforts are supported by the federal government’s Digital Investment Office (DIO), a fully digital collaboration platform aimed at streamlining the coordination and facilitation of all domestic and foreign digital investment in Malaysia.
Selangor recently unveiled the Selangor Gigabit Network, the Smart Selangor Hybrid Data Centre and local cloud computing initiatives. These, along with factors like dark fibre provision, state-wide high-speed Internet access, power supply redundancy and globally competitive telecommunications tariffs, are helping to make Selangor an attractive destination, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to tap on its high-performing digital infrastructure.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape industries, the Selangor government has helped to onboard scores of traditional retailers onto e-commerce portals like Lazada and Shopee, via its popular E-Bazaar campaign last year and this year. Between April and June, it provided the SME Digitalisation Matching Grant to almost 300 SMEs. The government intends to hold its regional trade and investment summit – the Selangor International Business Summit – in a hybrid mode this year, giving companies the opportunity to engage in valuable networking and collaborative discussions aimed at re-energising their businesses after close to two years of pandemic-related restrictions.
The state’s array of investments is paying off. According to Mr Hasan, Selangor is seeing growing demand for digital investment opportunities in areas such as data centres, cloud computing, cybersecurity and other related business services.
CYBERJAYA, THE HEART OF MALAYSIA’S DIGITAL ASPIRATION
With affordable land costs and an educated, tech-savvy workforce of about 3.6 million people, Selangor has always been a state that businesses have gravitated to. It is also home to Cyberjaya, Malaysia’s centre of innovation and digital transformation that is focused on three technological clusters: Smart mobility, smart healthcare and digital creative.
As a mature tech district, Cyberjaya has played host to numerous international companies and start-ups. Since 2019, Aerodyne, an internationally leading innovative drone solutions company, has made Cyberjaya its home base. As the company expanded, it required a more extensive and supportive infrastructure for drone testing and research and development. Cyberjaya’s existing tech ecosystem, which houses high numbers of drone and robotics companies, allows Aerodyne to engage in strategic industry collaborations in order to catalyse its rapid growth in the aerial mobility space.
Last year, Cyberjaya became home to the Asia Pacific hub of Hematogenix, a cancer research diagnostics firm. Despite the movement restrictions caused by COVID-19, Hematogenix was assisted in its expatriate and immigration issues by tech hub developer Cyberview, Cyberjaya’s landowner. Hematogenix’s choice proved to be the right one, as Cyberjaya’s robust data centre infrastructure allows for the effective processing of large amounts of research data while its proximity to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport ensures efficient sample logistics for the United States-based firm.
Said Mr Hasan: “With its excellent infrastructure to support growth across all areas, attractive incentives, ready and multilingual talent pool as well as a supportive and involved community, Selangor is an attractive proposition for both established regional and global tech businesses and promising start-ups alike to call home.”