News story

Overseas mission: UK firms take ideas to Malaysia and Singapore

Ten UK firms with an expertise in connected cities visited South East Asia to pitch their ideas to businesses, investors and government.

The delegation was warmly welcomed by both the Malaysian and Singaporean hosts, reinforcing the close government to government ties with the UK.

Some of the most exciting British businesses developing technologies to improve the way we live and work in cities went to Malaysia and Singapore on a Mission organised by Innovate UK and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

The successful joint mission, the first of its kind to the region by British companies, saw businesses showcasing their technologies, including:

  • smart street lighting
  • seamless ticketing
  • intelligent building management
  • intelligent mapping systems
  • intelligent security systems

The UK companies met with:

  • government representatives
  • investors
  • potential customers
  • collaborators

The aim was to form business partnerships in the rapidly developing Connected Cities sector, ultimately helping Malaysia and Singapore achieve their exciting connected cities ambitions.

Eleanor Wright of Aralia Systems
Eleanor Wright of Aralia Systems speaking to a potential investor in Cyberjaya, Malaysia

The 10 companies took part in the Connected Cities Trade Mission between 14 and 18 March and have already reported how successful they felt the mission was, and have potential deals in the pipeline.

Representatives from intelligent building management company, Block Dox said:

We had positive conversations with potential customers and investors

Eleanor Wright, from security monitoring company, Aralia Systems said:

Great connections formed, great insight into the market

Dean Gifford, from Preliminal, described the mission as:

Incredibly useful and very comprehensive tour through introduction of entirely relevant contacts. A great partner and fact finding mission all round

The full list of businesses on the mission were:

Highlights of the mission

Forest City Development in Johor
Delegates of the Connected Cities Mission on a tour of the Forest City Development in Johor, Malaysia

The mission gave the companies unprecedented access to people and facilities across Malaysia and Singapore, which would not have been possible without the support of both the UK, Singaporean and Malaysian governments. Delegates:

UK companies who are interested in growing their business through exports should sign up to the UK Government’s Exporting is GREAT campaign which aims to show UK companies the demand for their products and services overseas.

The Exporting is GREAT website contains thousands of:

  • live export opportunities
  • a downloadable export guide,
  • a range of partner services from insurance and logistics to finance.

Once companies know of the opportunities out there for them, trade missions such as Connected Cities play an important part in their export journey: placing them on the ground and talking to the right people.

South East Asia a global leader in smart cities

Dr Viraj Perera
Dr Viraj Perera, chief executive of PlaTCOM Ventures, an organisation that supports the commercialisation of innovative ideas in Malaysia, talks about the role of innovation and commercialisation in the development of smart cities.

South East Asia is at the forefront of global work on connected cities and is potentially a huge market for UK firms.

For example, all of the developed land in Cyberjaya, Malaysia is connected with fibre-optic cables making this smart city a ready made proof of concept point for all new technology and innovations to be tried and tested.

With the launch of the region’s first IPV6 1Gbps broadband in Cyberjaya recently, the infrastructure is now more robust, creating a connected community in Cyberjaya and realising its potential as a Smart City and Living Lab under Malaysia’s MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) initiative.

The custodian of MSC Malaysia, located in Cyberjaya, is the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). MDEC markets MSC Malaysia globally, shapes MSC Malaysia-specific laws, policies and practices by advising the Malaysian government as well as setting the standards for MSC Malaysia`s information infrastructure and urban development. Since its incorporation in 1996, MDEC has turned out to be a true success story for Malaysia.

When asked, MDEC CEO Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood said that:

MSC Malaysia’s performance and growth is testament to the progress Malaysia is making in executing the country’s digital economy strategy.

Despite current global economic challenges, MDEC recorded significant growth in investments and export sales from MSC Malaysia companies in 2015.

Dato’ Yasmin said:

For the year, MDEC registered a growth of 56 per cent in Approved Investments and Foreign Direct Investments in 2015. Total investments inflow from MSC Malaysia companies reached RM19.8 billion last year; and MDEC recorded its highest increase in new investments since its establishment 20 years ago.

Multipass UK Ltd discussing its business model during an investor panel discussion
Multipass UK Ltd discussing its business model during an investor panel discussion, British High Commission in Singapore

Niraj Saraf, lead technologist for urban living at Innovate UK, said:

These companies’ innovations are key to addressing the challenges that large cities face. These challenges include growing populations, increased demand for energy and the integration of technology into citizens’ everyday lives.

We believe these companies have huge growth potential and could become a vital part of the global connected cities industry in the near future.

Faris Yahaya, Managing Director of Cyberview Sdn Bhd said:

The MSC Malaysia has created more than 160,000 high-income job opportunities, with nearly 40,000 of these knowledge workers based in Cyberjaya thus making it a city with the largest concentration of a tech community anywhere in Malaysia. Cyberjaya also houses more than 800 technology companies with revenue contribution in excess of RM9 billion in 2015. Furthermore, 38 MNCs have already relocated their regional and global centres in Cyberjaya. This bodes well for the city as we continue to transform Cyberjaya into a global technology hub.

Meanwhile, the Cyberjaya Smart City initiative focuses on the mass adoption of smart applications and intelligent technologies to improve urban living and lifestyle, promote greater sustainability for the city and encourage overall growth of economic activities. In particular, under Malaysia’s National Internet of Things (IoT) Strategic Roadmap, Cyberjaya has been chosen by the government to be the testbed for IoT. The country’s expectation is that the implementation of IoT would contribute RM9.5 billion to the country’s Gross National Income by 2020, and RM42.5 billion by 2025.

In recognition of the rapidly developing links between UK and Malaysian companies and the determination of the respective governments to continue to develop the already strong relationship between the two nations, a Memorandum Of Understanding, reaffirming the jointly held trade ambitions between the countries, was signed between UKTI and IRDA (the Iskandar Regional Development Authority) and the governments’ joint commitment to further Smart Cities development in Iskandar, the booming economic development corridor in Johor, Malaysia.

Newton Fund

Malaysia is a priority partner country for Innovate UK. Through our joint Newton-Ungku Omar Coordination Fund, Innovate UK, RCUK and Malaysia Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) came together to fund and deliver a new type of programme, called Research and Innovation Bridges. We opened this funding competition in June 2015, jointly investing up to £14.4 million in collaborative research and development projects to stimulate innovation in response to Malaysia’s urbanisation challenges.

The competition has been popular, with approximately 70 applications and all partners hope to fund some exciting collaborations between UK and Malaysian businesses and research organisations, proposing novel solutions to help Malaysia achieve its ambitious Smart City aspirations.