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MSC Central Incubator To Nurture Hi-Tech SMEs

Multimedia Development Corp. Sdn. Bhd. (MDC) has launched the Multimedia Super Corridor's (MSC) Central Incubator at Cyberjaya.

The central incubator has been identified as the nucleus for the National Incubator Network that will link eight other centers which are already in operation. These centers include Technology Park Malaysia, UPM-MTDC Incubator and Kulim Hi-tech Park.

"The network will complement and mutually reinforce the incubator programs in Malaysia by developing centers of excellence," said the MDC executive chairman Tan Sri Dr Othman Yeop Abdullah. "It will also facilitate the sharing of resources and networking with other incubators in the international arena - specifically Australia, Canada, and Scotland."

The establishment of this incubator network is crucial to help generate the much needed pool of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to meet the demands of the MSC project when it rolls out nationwide in 2003.

In his speech during the launch, the Entrepreneurial Development Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, who is also the second Finance Minister, stated that incubator is one of the six major ingredients critical to the creation of sufficient technopreneurs. The other five elements are venture capital and financing, research and development, incentives, human resource development, and market access.

"Our goal is to increase the number of information technology and multimedia SMEs in Malaysia to 1,000 by the year of 2003," added Datuk Mustapa. Currently, MDC's record shows a total of 400 SMEs in the technology sector which is far smaller than the 7,000 in Silicon Valley with an annual growth rate of 500 to 600 SMEs.

"The degree to which we will be able to own emerging technology will determine our nation's economic strength," said Tan Sri's Dr. Othman.

The MSC Central Incubator, costing RM15 million (US$ 3.95 million), will allow its tenants to have access to the MSC's telecommunication infrastructure, research facilities, networking opportunities and venture capital funding. MSC Central Incubator will also support the tenants by providing seminars, training, and other advance services such as business plan development, accounting, and marketing.

The incubator is located within the Multimedia University with 62,500 square feet of space. With rental rates starting at RM1.50 (US$ 0.40) per square foot, the incubator center will also be a relatively cheap location for SMEs to operate.

Initially, the center is expected to be the home for about 65 companies with 10 of them already moved their equipment into the new premises. According to Tan Sri Dr. Othman, the incubator might be expanded if demand for space increased. Presently, companies are limited to a two-year tenancy period at the facility.

The main focus now is on the issues of how to bring together various resources to assist the growth of new and startup companies through the National Incubator Network.