Penang has no shortage of young, motivated, and visionary entrepreneurs. Piktochart and Exabyte are 2 local startups that are hugely successful. That said, without a proper ecosystem which cultivates and supports local startups, many talented individuals might not have the resources to realise their ideas.
In 2018, the Penang state government established the Penang i4.0 Seed Fund with an allocation of USD 1 million. The Penang i4.0 Seed Fund is a special seed programme, executed through InvestPenang, to provide funding for qualified early-stage technology startups to enhance the growth of Penang’s tech ecosystem. The eventual goal of the programme is to establish the state as the Silicon Valley of the East.
Since its inception, 27 high potential companies involved in a wide range of business activities from smart cognitive system based on AI technology to commercial vehicle fleet control system, and farming system technology have received funding from the state to catalyse their growth. Funds can also be utilised to provide greater dynamics to scale their businesses and enable them to reach their targeted customers in a more efficient way.
Apart from financial support, the state government also provides guidance in the form of mentorship, capacity-building programmes, and potential linkage opportunities to the recipients of the seed fund through an initiative called G27.
Earlier in 2019, two LeapSprint programmes were also launched to stimulate startup activities and ensure that the recipients remain successful and competitive in their businesses. The LeapSprint Startup Founders Programme was a 10-day curriculum designed specifically to expose individuals who are passionate about their business potential to the fundamental insights and tools that can be used to increase the odds of their success. Meanwhile, the LeapSprint Startup Mentoring Programme is a 6-months programme designed for the i4.0 Seed Fund recipients which includes a monthly talk series by notable technology and business mentors, covering fundraising, finance, sales and negotiation, scaling up and team building.
“We always believe that the rightful adoption of technology is capable of generating positive impacts towards the society; and start-ups are one of the vanguards in such,” said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
“We are pleased to be able to play a part and help spur innovations with this grant, materialising Penang2030 vision of upgrading the economy, empowering the people, and enhancing quality of life.”