One of the key takeaways from a VC Panel discussion at Echelon Malaysia in April was that lack of corporate involvement is a problem for Malaysia’s startup economy.

In an opening address today at the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC — a government programme designed to foster entrepreneurship), Y.B. Datuk Haji Ahmad Haji Maslan, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Trade and Industry acknowledged as much.

“The private sector should, and can, play a more active role in nurturing a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem. However, many companies still struggle to work effectively with startups, and the road to productive collaboration is rocky,” he said.

Today, to try to help fix the problem, MaGIC launched two programmes under the MaGIC Corporate Entrepreneurship Responsibility (CER) platform.

The programmes are called MaGIC CER Circle (a membership initiative) and MaGIC Activate (a platform for finding innovation challenges). They will be outlined in more detail below.

The Malaysian government wants the digital economy to contribute 20 per cent of total GDP by 2020. According to the South China Morning Post, that number currently stands at 16.8 per cent.

Ashran Dato’ Ghazi, the MaGIC Chief Executive Officer, called corporate innovation “essential to survival” and no longer an “ingredient to success”.

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With 65 per cent of Malaysians being employed by SMEs, entrepreneurship is crucial to the economy of Malaysia. The CER platform hopes to connect these SMEs with corporates and help the smaller businesses leverage the networks of the country’s large brands.

For corporates, MaGIC hopes these initiatives can help make corporates partners in disruption by adapting agility and an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’.

Let’s take a look at the two specific programmes.

MaGIC CER Circle

The MaGIV CER Circle is a membership platform for corporates to work with MaGIC (and, presumably, gain access to the agency’s startup-partners.

It wants to lower the barrier-to-entry for startups by “showcasing how others have approached similar partnerships.”

It also wants to tailor its help to a corporate’s specific innovation agenda.

So far, 22 companies have signed up for the membership — including AIA, CIMB, IBM, IJM, Media Prima, Allianz, UNICEF, Microsoft, Setia Haruman, Sunway Ventures, TM, Techstars and United Nations.

“We encourage corporates to leverage on CER to unlock a wealth of economic possibilities via collaboration with startups that were previously difficult to access and develop,” said Ghazi.

MaGIC Activate

This online platform is designed to help corporates who want to create innovation challenges and reach out to startups .

As it is a platform for corporates to find startups, obviously the opposite would be true. Startups can use MaGIC Activate to find corporate initiatives and apply.

The platform itself is called the Startup Corporate Open Innovation Challenge Platform and is in partnership with the Techstars Startup Program.

MaGIC says eight innovation challenges have already been posted and corporates will have access to over 3,000 startups through its community partnership network.

One of the cool challenges is via UNICEF, which is looking for an open-source technology that will help improve the lives of children with disabilities. UNICEF is actively looking to invest in the solution.

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Malaysia is a regional leader in Southeast Asia’s startup scene, and hopefully getting corporates on board will help entrepreneurs continue the positive momentum.

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