Malaysia, India sign new nanotechnology deal to disrupt diverse sectors

nanotechnology Malaysia India
Scientific microscope in a nanotechnology laboratory. Image by Wladimir.B | Bigstockphoto

A new tripartite agreement involving Indian and Malaysian startups aims to boost nanotechnology commercialisation into key sectors such as clean energy, textiles, urban farming, healthcare and social enterprise.

The Malaysian agency NanoMalaysia Berhad (NMB) recently signed a memorandum of agreement with Silicon Valley-funded technology incubator 10000StartupsIndia, and Malaysia-based eCommerce and social enterprise firm Foodie Box Group to accelerate nanotechnology adoption among more than 1,000 India-based startups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro SMEs.

Essentially, NMB will develop business models aligned to various solutions from Malaysia’s nanotechnology startups and SMEs that are deemed to be relevant to India’s technology and incubation ecosystem.

Indian startups, SMEs, and micro SMEs will be shortlisted based on their market access to sought-after technologies, competencies to upscale the tech, and sufficient funding and willingness to partner with Malaysian entities.

Some of the deeper aspects driving this latest move touch on India’s startup ecosystem, positive disruption, intellectual property rights (IPR), and technology transfer, and growth hacking, explained the parties involved in the agreement.

Disrupting diverse sectors

According to Indian government data, the country has the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world and expects year on year growth of 12-15%

During 2020, India experienced significant growth in the number of startup hubs especially when compared to 2015. In the last five years, the number of startups in every sector has seen a rise of 40 – 45%.

Statista confirms the country’s startup sector’s ability to attract big investors. India’s initial draw as a software-intensive hub has now spread across multiple industry sectors and services, fuelled especially by the eCommerce pandemic-driven boom recently.

Malaysia, too, has seen encouraging signs of growth in its SME and startups landscape – especially in nanotechnology in the period from 2016 to 2020 with close to 100 early and growth-stage companies participating in NanoMalaysia’s commercialisation and certification program.

Disruption is a theme echoed by 10000StartupsIndia, a community platform incorporated in the US, explains CEO Leenesh Singh. It focuses on SMEs in manufacturing, services and homegrown businesses founded by women.

Leenesh Singh

“The use of nanotechnology and its potential in upscaling diverse sectors in India remains largely untapped. There is a huge demand for new technologies to disrupt the more traditional businesses, such as the textile industry – where application of nanotechnology can be used to develop new materials or innovate production methods.

With this partnership, we are confident that Indian start-ups, SMEs, and micro SMEs will be able to accelerate their growth and enhance their product to market offerings.”

Singh estimated that the initiative will contribute up to 1% to India’s gross domestic product.

Jimmy Lee

Incorporated in 2016 and headed by CEO Jimmy Lee, Foodie Box Group uses current and breakthrough technologies to disrupt food production, starting from water, energy and moving through packaging, distribution, and so forth.

Commenting on the agreement, Lee says: “This is a first step for us as we see more emerging markets opening up to facilitate technology transfers through international strategic business partnerships such as this one that will undoubtedly set the stage for reviving small and medium-sized enterprises by empowering them with new technology skills, both regionally and globally.“

Opening up tech transfers

In a recent interview with Disruptive Asia, Dr Rezal Khairi Ahmad stressed that steering hi-tech SMEs up the global value chain.

Dr Rezal Khairi Ahmad

This involves a particular focus on emerging markets where the disruptive adoption of frontier technologies has seen much impetus from the coronavirus health crisis during the past 12 months, he explained.

In that interview, he explained that Malaysia’s nanotechnology commercialisation program buoyed by partnerships with Malaysian companies has already delivered promising returns.

These include flexible RFID circuits based on graphene conductive inks; environmental sensors; a multiple-purpose advanced energy storage system for automotive and portable applications; an internet of nano things powered smart urban farming kit; a connected e-scooter for delivery services as well as hydrogen-powered drones and an autonomous system kit for vehicular applications.

Growth hacking

Welcoming this new agreement, Dr Rezal said India was one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and that this was a strong opportunity to value build their startups, SMEs and micro SMEs.

He commented to Disruptive.Asia that” “From the startup and SME’s perspective, we are enabling and expanding their overseas revenue opportunities. This has the potential to translate into new high-value jobs creation.”

“Since our tech is inherently disruptive, we hope for the positive impact in the shape of new supply chains.”

What further enthuses Dr Rezal is “the excitement and game-changing aspects: growth hacking our local nanotech startups and SMEs through international joint ventures, and licensing initiatives towards mass production and boosting market adoption.”

“It is also the fastest way for Malaysian companies to have an equity in companies and business activities abroad and expand our global technological footprint driven by clear outcomes,” he further added.

“This is one way that Malaysia can focus on becoming an innovation hub and exporting our technology – directly supporting our High-Tech Nation’s primary target.”

Dr Rezal concluded: “This is a first step for us as we see more emerging markets opening up to facilitate technology transfers through international strategic business partnerships such as this one that will undoubtedly set the stage for reviving SMEs by empowering them with new technology skills, both regionally and globally.“

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