Funding boost for Malaysia's mobile developers

Country's mobile app makers can receive funds and related support from new initiative between two government agencies and Nokia.

KUALA LUMPUR--Local mobile app developers have received a funding boost following Nokia's collaboration with two technology-based government agencies, which aims to provide support to the developer community and encourage digital content development.

Nokia announced the partnership with MSC Malaysia and Cradle Fund, at its OneConnectedWorld event here Tuesday.

The Nokia Mobile Content Developer initiative was introduced in conjunction with the recently announced MSC Malaysia Integrated Content Development (ICON) program, which provides training and support for Malaysians to develop online applications. The scheme provides conditional grants of up to 100,000 ringgit (US$28,592) for apps with commercialization potential, with the aim to encourage the development and distribution of innovative online content and services.

Nokia hopes to enhance local developer competencies in mobile development and support the development of their ideas, from conceptualization to commercialization to distribution.

"Mobile content development and Web RunTime (WRT) widgets are key drivers to the growth and evolution of mobile Internet," said Kenny Mathers, Asia-Pacific head of developer relations and marketing, Forum Nokia. "We anticipate rapid growth in this industry as consumers continue to look for their own customized personal mobile experience."

"By offering the largest business opportunity and robust technology, together with strategic players in the ecosystem such as MSC Malaysia, we aim to support developers in bringing their ideas and innovations to market," he said.

Training, support for development
Badlisham Ghazali, CEO of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), said: "The MSC Malaysia ICON program aims to create and enhance the value of local digital content, to make it more compelling for the users in the online environment. This collaboration [with Nokia]…will certainly spark the interest of our creative developers, especially among the youth, as well as get more people to use the digital media."

Under the program, developers can submit concepts for applications that utilize WRT technology and run on new Nokia Symbian smartphones, including devices that support Symbian Touch interface and homescreen widgets.

Grant applicants are required to submit their proposal and concept paper to the MDeC for review. If approved, applicants will receive their funds and be required to attend training organized by Forum Nokia and the MDeC, that is aimed at helping these applicants build advanced skills for widget development.

Nokia will provide accelerated development and go-to-market support to help successful applicants complete and deploy their mobile offerings through the company's mobile app marketplace Ovi Store.

The phone maker's collaboration with Cradle will ensure local mobile developers are "equipped with the resources and support...[to] raise their expertise and showcase their talent...on the global stage", said Mathers.

Under this collaboration, Cradle will offer funding of up to 150,000 ringgit (US$42,888) to aspiring local technopreneurs and mobile developers, for each technology idea selected for its strong commercialization potential. The initiative falls under the Cradle Investment Programme (CIP), a fund managed by Cradle under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance.

"While [Malaysian] technopreneurs have the skills and competency to compete globally, they often lack funding, business skills and exposure, to successfully see through their innovation from idea to market," said Nazrin Hassan, CEO of Cradle Fund, adding that the Nokia collaboration will help bridge this gap.

Under this scheme, Forum Nokia members can submit ideas for mobile content and applications, which will be screened for business viability. Upon approval, applicants will be funded by Cradle via the CIP. Once completed, these projects will then be commercialized through Ovi Store.

Nokia will also provide a support package that includes a one-year Forum Nokia PRO membership, handset loans, discounted device purchase program and early access to software development kits and tools.

After the mobile content and apps are fully developed and functional, Nokia will waive publishing fees and provide priority publishing to the Ovi Store, as well as expose the developer to other channels such as mobile operators and advertising networks, to monetize their products.

Lee Min Keong is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia.