M'sian technopreneurs offered funding advice

Technopreneur Association of Malaysia and Cradle Fund will give local tech innovators advice on how to enhance business ideas and qualify for investment funds.

KUALA LUMPUR--Cradle Fund and the Technopreneur Association of Malaysia (TeAM) have inked an agreement to provide innovators advice on getting funding for their companies.

Under the terms of agreement, the two partners will establish various programs where the TeAM will help budding technopreneurs to modify and enhance their ideas or business models, so that they may qualify for Cradle Fund's investment program, known as CIP.

Established under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance, CIP was formed in 2003 and is managed by Cradle Fund. The investment program is one of Malaysia's development and pre-seed funding initiatives aimed at assisting technopreneurs in their quest to transform their technology ideas into commercially viable ventures.

Speaking to reporters at the signing ceremony Wednesday, Cradle Fund's chairman Sallehuddin Othman said it realizes that aside from increasing the volume of applications it receives, the quality of ideas submitted must also be improved.

Sallehuddin said: "The collaboration with the TeAM inculcates the spirit of networking, especially amongst the younger technopreneurs who may not have had much experience within the business and technology industry."

According to Renuka Sena, deputy president of the TeAM, the first program--called Idea Reflow Program--will see the Association assisting applicants in modifying and enhancing their ideas for the purpose of obtaining the CIP grant.

The second initiative, called Idea Refinement and Monitoring Program, is designed to focus on successful CIP applicants. The TeAM will provide guidance, recommendations and suggestions to improve business ideas during the disbursement and monitoring phase of the CIP grant.

Cradle Fund and the TeAM will also provide technopreneur development tips, strategy and business model advisory, branding and marketing, as well as intellectual property advice, Renuka added.

"All these services, usually chargeable by the hour by consultants, will be provided free of charge," she said.

Cradle Fund CEO Nazrin Hassan said the organization is not suggesting that business ideas it received were of inferior quality. Rather, local technopreneurs have ideas that, most of the time, "are merely not well thought through".

Nazrin noted that the approval rate for the CIP grant is about 25 percent.

"Our aim, therefore, is to help these young technopreneurs finetune and tweak their business models and ideas," he explained. "This will increase the overall quality of their ideas and the chances they have in making it commercially viable."

Nazrin added that, to date, five potential candidates are in the pipeline to receive guidance from TeAM officials.

Since its inception, CIP has disbursed a total of 15.7 million ringgit (US$4.8 million) to some 270 entrepreneurs and commercialized about 42 percent of completed ideas it funded.

Edwin Yapp is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia.