Benefits For M’sian Tech Startups Joining MOSTI’s New Programme

Startups have struggled this year, and many programs focused on business growth have adapted to address the specific challenges of startups during the pandemic.

Entirely new programs have also been launched, one of them recently being MOSTI’s National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS).

The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Center (MaGIC) acts as the lead secretariat, so we spoke to CEO Dzuleira Abu Bakar to learn more about the benefits of NTIS for startups.

1. Funding

Tech startups can apply for 4 types of funding programs offered by Malaysia Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) under NTIS:

  • Diagram 1: Single-site sandbox offering up to RM250,000 in full grant funding and a single-site sandbox solution,
  • Diagram 2: Multi-site sandbox with a maximum funding amount of RM500,000 in the form of a partial grant (70%) to fund multi-site sandbox solutions,
  • Diagram 3: Marketing program with maximum funding of RM 4 million in the form of a hybrid fund, grants and convertible promissory notes to finance the marketing of the sandbox solution,
  • Diagram 4: Matching funds with investors / companies, with a maximum allocation of RM15 million as matching funds with investors and companies.

2. Capacity building programs

The goal of NTIS is to accelerate the commercialization of local innovations, especially those that can solve the problems surrounding the pandemic.

“Since there are eligibility criteria, there are candidates who may not be able to continue until the gaps are filled,” Dzuleira told Vulcan Post.

“NTIS ensures that local innovations can advance and this is where those who are not eligible will be invited to participate in development programs to help and equip them to the level needed to be part of NTIS.”

Companies will also be able to test their products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms as part of the MaGIC delivery, with the sandbox providing them with a “safe space” to do so.

3. Access to markets and facilitation of purchases

In line with the aforementioned goal of NTIS, it is building an ecosystem to connect the public-private to startups / innovators.

“Call us a matchmaker, if you like. We connect / match government and business problem statements with solutions from tech innovators, ”Dzuleira said.

“Thus, the solutions identified, developed, tested and accelerated via NTIS really meet the needs of the market.”

Various actors in the public and private sector will also help sandbox solutions for their testing and market access.

Therefore, startups will not have to doubt the commercialization of their solutions.

4. Facilitation of the test bench and test environment

The latest innovations under NTIS are to be tested in a controlled environment, but Dzuleira said the test bed and test environment facilitation is not in a fixed location.

Each sector targeted by NTIS has its own specific requirements, so it would be difficult to have a fixed location.

Future development of approved technologies to other potential locations may also be limited by the presence of a test site.

Depending on the companies’ product, the test will take place at an appropriate facility provided by NTIS partners from the public and private sectors.

This removes barriers for startups who want to test their technology with few restrictions.

5. Facilitation / review of regulations and laws

An example of existing regulations and laws affecting startup innovations can be seen in the drone industry.

Drone companies in Malaysia face challenges such as:

  • Require strict certification and permits for drones,
  • Long processing times for permit approvals,
  • Limited guidelines for a BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) flight,
  • Weight limitations,
  • Multiple approvals required by various regulatory bodies and authorities.

Dzuleira explained how the NTIS then offered more freedom in this context.

Through NTIS, they will assist drone-powered solutions companies by working with regulators such as Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia (CAAM) to facilitate and streamline permit applications.

This is especially true in situations where the operation of the drone presents a lower risk, such as in the case of agricultural applications.

These drones typically fly at lower altitudes and in remote areas.

“In addition to the agricultural sector, we are also seeing a positive impact of the application of drones in logistics and health,” said Dzuleira.

“With better case studies and adaptive regulations that drive innovation, we are confident that NTIS will help Malaysia achieve its goal of becoming a pioneer in dronetech technology.”

6. Multi-industry adoption

Multi-industry adoption refers to a technology solution that can be applied to various industries.

Taking as an example some NTIS pilot projects, DF Automation has produced robots for healthcare food delivery service and payload delivery for various industries.

Aerodyne’s drone solutions have been applied to agricultural pesticide spraying and medical care delivery service.

Both technological applications theoretically help increase productivity and minimize human error.

With drones, the expertise of farmers will shift from hard work to strategic farm management, and the use of robotics in healthcare allows healthcare workers to focus on critical tasks while providing excellent care service.

Startups who join NTIS will also be able to explore the use of their solutions in several sectors.

NTIS request

Applications have been open since July 15, 2020 and currently, MaGIC has already received up to 1,200 applications and has processed around 200.

To apply you must be a Malaysian individual, Malaysian company or Malaysian majority foreign company and have a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6.

TRL 6, or Alpha Testing, is the point where you have a prototype system that can be demonstrated in an operational environment.

Requests are processed in batches and typically require 31 days to process.

Even if your startup is not yet eligible, you will be advised to join other development programs first to prepare for a new application, as Dzuleira explained earlier.

And if you are wondering if you would need to pay anything to apply for NTIS, the answer is no.

  • You can learn more about NTIS and apply for it here.
  • You can read more of what we wrote about MaGIC here.

Featured Image Credit: YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI)

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Jothi Venkat

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