Supporting the four pillars
Yasmin emphasised that all of MDEC's initiatives were in support of four important pillars that it wishes to uphold: driving investments; building local tech champions; catalysing digital innovation ecosystems; and digital inclusivity. During the interview, she touched on how each pillar was bolstered during the previous year.
"We are always about driving tech-related investments into the country using our MSC set of incentives. I can say that last year was very, very pleasing for us, both in terms of numbers, as well in terms of new investments in tech companies coming into Malaysia," she said, adding that the types of investments were in some key focus areas and towards cutting-edge technology that MDEC was were targeting. "Areas like data analytics, areas like 3D printing - these are not the traditional types of investments that we have seen. We are looking at more different types of higher-end type investments coming into the country, and that is very, very good."
Yasmin also added that the growth in domestic investments was very encouraging. "At the global level, foreign investments were affected by the global economic situation; the global investment climate is not as positive, not as strong as the years before. But thankfully for us, we were able to compensate that with a very strong growth from domestic investors, from the DDI [domestic direct investment]."
She said that the environment of strong investments bodes well for the next pillar, which is creating local champions. "The strength of a country's digital economy cannot be as significant and as sustained if we don't have global industries. By this, I mean local industry players who can become local champions who are also global icons."
Yasmin mentioned that Malaysia's population of 30 million meant that for local companies to become tech icons in the digital economy, they would need people who were able to go beyond the shores of Malaysia.
"They've got to be global players - which is why our programme called GAIN (Global Acceleration and Innovation Network) was established. Last year was effectively the first full year of GAIN, and this programme is where we would identify local tech companies who have got the desire and the potential to become global icons.," she said. "This covers people who are already in the global playing field - but we want to see how to take them to the next level, to see how we can make them into bigger companies." She gave several examples of local companies that have made succeeded overseas, whether in terms of innovation (iGene's cutting-edge solutions around digital autopsies), growth (iflix) or in terms of new contracts (Forest Interactive Sdn Bhd, Kannal Solutions, and IX Telecom).