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India ASEAN Startup Summit – Malaysia-India Series (Part 1)

In the first part of our exclusive series, we feature Datin Malliga Subramaniam, a pivotal leader in the ASEAN entrepreneurial landscape. As the Founder of DEWI Wealth Accelerator and Co-Founder & President of the Malaysia World Chamber of Commerce, Datin Malliga offers profound insights into the India ASEAN Startup Summit 2023. This interview explores the Summit's critical role in advancing the ASEAN startup ecosystem, underscoring its strategies, challenges, and growth opportunities for startups and investors. Her expert perspective sheds light on how the Summit is shaping regional entrepreneurship and innovation.


Edward: Introduction to the Summit – Could you tell us about the India ASEAN Startup Summit and its objectives in fostering the startup ecosystem in the ASEAN region?

Malliga: The India ASEAN Startup Summit 2023, in short IASS, is a historic Summit – a collaborative event between Malaysia and India, attracting delegations and stakeholders from Malaysia, India, and the ASEAN region. The Summit is taking place on the 12th and 13th of December 2023 at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre in Malaysia.

The purpose of IASS is to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, and stakeholders in the startup ecosystem from Malaysia, India, and ASEAN countries. It aims to facilitate networking, sharing of best practices, and showcasing new startup ideas, innovations, and trends across the region. We believe that this event will create a platform for startups to connect with investors and potential partners, foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, and contribute to the growth of the startup ecosystem in the Malaysia and ASEAN region.

Edward: Benefits for Startups and Investors – What unique opportunities does this Summit offer to startups and investors, and how does it facilitate their growth and collaboration?

Malliga: Malaysia’s journey to becoming a dynamic startup ecosystem starts with a visionary plan led by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The ‘Single Window’ initiative, central to this plan, is a groundbreaking concept poised to simplify and enrich the startup experience. The Summit aims to leverage this National Plan to create a unified platform that makes it easier for emerging entrepreneurs to deal with government procedures, access valuable resources, and speed up their business ventures.

Malaysia is considered one of the most business-friendly countries in ASEAN, boasting a highly developed infrastructure that offers a supportive ecosystem for businesses. This creates a winning environment for startups to thrive. It is no secret that starting a company is hard work. The two-day Summit will highlight the challenges that entrepreneurs face in the startup world, particularly when it comes to attracting funding for scaling up, attracting trusted collaboration partners, developing go-to-market strategies, and accessing networks of industry experts.

Edward: Malaysia's Role in ASEAN's Startup Ecosystem – As Malaysia aims to position itself as a leading startup hub in the ASEAN region, how does the Summit contribute to this vision, especially in the face of competition from established hubs like Singapore?

Malliga: The government, through its various agencies such as Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad (MAVCAP), Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Penjana Kapital, and Cradle/Mystartup has long supported Malaysia’s startup ecosystem. While these agencies have been instrumental in developing the ecosystem in Malaysia through various funds, grants, accelerators, and incubators, there is still a vital role that the private sector can play in further enhancing it. One of the most obvious and key drivers in developing the startup ecosystem is funding. In the Malaysia Startup Ecosystem Roadmap 2021-2030 (SUPER), the lack of private sector-driven funding is identified as one of the current challenges.

The Summit aims to highlight the current strategies and opportunities offered by various stakeholders in the Malaysian startup space, such as MOSTI (Malaysian Ministry of Science & Technology) and MDEC. Additionally, IASS will bring together business leaders and government agencies from both India and Malaysia in an effort to streamline and enhance the implementation of some of the strategies of the organizations mentioned above. Not only will the Summit serve as an excellent networking opportunity at the highest levels, but it will also seek to address the challenge of the lack of private investor funding in this space.

Edward: Government Support – In what ways is the Malaysian government supporting the growth of the startup ecosystem, and what can startups expect in terms of policy and infrastructural support?

Malliga: MOSTI (Malaysian Ministry of Science & Technology) has committed to fully support the progress and development of startups at every stage. This effort includes uplifting the startup ecosystem, providing incentives for private and public investors, and supporting startups to overcome the challenges and barriers in Malaysia’s quest to become a leading and successful global startup ecosystem. Malaysia has been making significant strides in public sector digitalisation, laying a robust foundation for the future. Initiatives like MyPay, an online payment system, and MySejahtera, a COVID-19 contact-tracing app, showcase the government's commitment to enhancing efficiency while creating opportunities for tech and innovative startups.

The Prime Minister’s recent meeting with the National Digital Economy Council to expedite the implementation of a national digital identity (IDN) system is another promising step. Such a system can streamline government services, improve security, and pave the way for more innovative technological solutions

Edward: Thank you Malliga for your insights. As we wrap up this first part of our interview, stay tuned for our next segment, where we'll discuss the growing India-Malaysia collaboration in the startup sector, exploring their economic engagement, startup dynamics, and opportunities emerging from the India ASEAN Startup Summit.

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