ADSA participants at the ASEAN Data Analytics eXchange (ADAX)

Malaysia is building the data startup network in ASEAN through an accelerator program that provides network and training to push the growth of big data across the region. Source: ADSA

How Malaysia is boosting the Asean data startup scene

DATA driven startups in Asean are getting a boost from Malaysia, with the help of the Asean Data Startup Accelerator (ADSA).

It is a six-month accelerator programme founded by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) in partnership with the Open Data Institute (ODI).

The programme helps Asean-based data startups build their network, business and data skills. This is part of MDEC’s initiative to stimulate the growth of big data across the region.

Data technology is, in a nutshell, technology that takes advantage of data to create insights or functions to help improve business. Things like big data, analytics, data mining, artificial intelligence, IoT management, etc. all fall under data technology.

Most businesses would rely on data, whether to gain insights or to create a record log. Data, as seen through the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal, provides businesses with useful, although sometimes overly intrusive, information.

In this case, it’s not personal information that is being exploited. Instead, publicly available information is being used to build services that serve those very people. For example, using government data on traffic and weather can help predict traffic conditions and road safety.

“A lot has been invested in Malaysia and the Asean region in opening data at a government level, but not many startups are utilizing the data made available. We believe that this platform will be a great launch pad to promote data literacy and also nurture relevant skills on big data analytics and artificial intelligence that are crucial to local and regional digital economy growth,” MDEC Chief Operating Officer Ng Wan Peng said.

Malaysia is especially attractive for Asean countries to develop their technology. Strategically located in the region, the country has a predominantly English-speaking business landscape.

Government-backed organizations such as the MDEC have been vocal in the big data scene. This has been a major driver for  MDEC itself has also been pushing for initiatives to increase the data literacy in the country. Along with that, the country’s high level of digital adoption and internet penetration have driven many innovations in the country.

“Malaysia, and more generally Asean is a fertile ground for data-enabled innovation, and we are delighted to contribute to the strong data literacy, growing tech community, and entrepreneurial mindset in the region. The idea that data could enable innovation if it were more widely shared is a new concept, and we are delighted that startups on the programme are taking steps to place BDA at the heart of their business,” ODI Head of Startups Orsola de Marco said.

Through ADSA, participants get access to a global network of mentors and previous ODI startups, along with a variety of training programmes. The startups also get hands-on support with business development.

The first 19 startups in the region have recently graduated from ADSA. Several startups have since attracted the attention of large institutions including Allianz Malaysia, Axiata Business Services, and Nanotechnology & Catalysis Research Centre, University of Malaya.