Sarawak Government is in the process of setting up a proposed Digital Village to cater to hi-tech industries of the state. Expected to be operational by early 2020, Digital Village project is part of the state’s RM1bil allocation to fund its digital infrastructure and digital economy initiatives. So, what do you need to know about this project and what’s expected to happen? Read on and find out more!
1) What’s Digital Village?
In the Sarawak Digital Economy Strategy 2018-2022, under “Digital Innovation & Entrepreneurship”, it was stated in Action 38 that a Digital Village will be established to facilitate technology transfer and commercialisation and accelerate the maturity of startups through global accelerator partnership.
Initiatives at Digital Village will include “Launch Sarawak” (Action 39) – a programme to provide a transformative pathway to support innovation, intellectual property creation and spin-offs, as well as scale-up programmes and Open Lab.
The Sarawak Government through the SMA will also setup “Digital Landing Pads” (Action 40) overseas to promote Sarawak as a destination for high tech innovation and entrepreneurship like Silicon Valley or Shanghai, also to encourage both domestic and foreign investments.
2) Why Digital Village Exists?
The main objective of Digital Village is to provide provide growth opportunities for early-stage startups and to build strong startup community across Sarawak. Through its establishment, the Sarawak Government wants to inculcate a culture of innovation, to increase the number of successful technopreneurs including spin-offs and start-ups; and to achieve continuous technology transfer and commercialisation.
3) Why Startups Should Care?
Digital Village will further expand the impact of the established startups by imbuing them with cutting-edge technology, latest research, and up-to-date digital skills. For instance, overseas experts will be invited to give talks and guide them to come up with mobile applications that are beneficial for Sarawak. They can also go to Digital Village at a discounted price and work out whatever products they want to develop there.
As such, Digital Village will play a significant role in establishing and developing localized knowledge in Sarawak, and put Sarawakian technopreneurs and startups on the world map. Together with partners within the digital ecosystem, this initiative will create success stories that will be the pride of the state and the nation.
4) What Would Startups Gain From This Project?
Digital Village will be the custodian of the Sarawak startup ecosystem, within which it works with all its partners and investors to help the startups grow and also invest in them.
For entrepreneurship education, Digital Village has Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) from the federal level, and from state ministries, i.e. Ministry of Industrial and Entreprenur Development (MIED) and Ministry of International Trade & eCommerce (MITeC) and it has got its finance in Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Bumiputera Sarawak (TEGAS), STEM Playground, Sarawak Centre of Performance Excellence (SCOPE) and iCube Innovation.
On the other hand, Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) will run programs such as ‘Startup Weekend’ and ‘Hack Weekend’ whereby they will try to get the idea out and fine tune it so that it can become a business. Once the idea is out, and there is a prototype which can be commercialised, SMA can help these individuals or businesses go even further with R&D, by looking into the markets they can enter.
They partner the startups with industries—where the support comes in—which will help promote and provide them a platform so that they can network with global players and scale overseas. All in all, it’s a step-by-step approach to building the startup ecosystem in whole of Sarawak and driving the state’s digital economy.
5) Who’s In Charge Of Digital Village?
Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Bumiputera Sarawak (TEGAS) has been given the mandate to implement the RM27-million project. It is also tasked to operate the village, and would be guided by Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) in terms of set-up, facilities and the latest digital technology. Both parties will be working closely together to ensure timely delivery and success of Digital Village.