M'sia shows off new IT center

Latest move is part of the country's plans to establish itself as a technology hub.

Malaysia is organizing a preview of its new IT center in the state of Johor, in a bid to lure IT companies to establish operations in the country.

Scheduled for Wednesday by Malaysia's Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC), the preview is to give local and global companies an opportunity to assess the feasibility of setting up operations at the new MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) Cyberport Johor.

The MSC is a Malaysian government initiative established in 1996 to position the country as an ICT hub. The MSC now hosts more than 1,300 multinationals and Malaysian companies focused on multimedia and communications products, services as well as research and development (R&D).

MSC Cyberport Johor joins the ranks of similar centers already set up in other parts of Malaysia. These include Cyberjaya in Putrajaya near Kuala Lumpur, as well as the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, and the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in the northern states of Penang and Kedah, respectively.

According to a statement last week, MSC Cyberport Johor will offer a "cost-effective location for companies involved in shared services and outsourcing, logistics, Internet-based business, software development and hardware design".

MSC Cyberport Johor tenants will benefit from one-stop access to relevant government agencies and local authorities. They can also apply for funding and R&D grants from the Malaysian government.

According to Malaysia's Business Times, the MSC Cyberport Johor is slated to open today, starting with 26 local and international companies in the hood. The companies are expected to invest some RM39 million (US$10.6 million) in total start-up capital.

By 2008, the MSC hopes to attract about 200 companies to invest some RM400 million (US$109 million) in Cyberport Johor, Business Times reported.

To cement its position as an ICT hub, Malaysia will also be hosting the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in 2008.

Malaysia hopes the WCIT will help brand the MSC "as a fast developing, attractive, liberal and advanced global ICT hub to relevant and potential clients, investors, businesses and foreign governments", according to the MDC.