Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur

MEMBERS:
Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation

Our startup ecosystem is the personification of the Malaysia Boleh spirit – a local slogan that epitomises courage, grit, and tenacity – and uniquely positions Malaysia as the heart of digital ASEAN.

Surina Shukri
CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation
Top 15 Asian Ecosystem: Funding
Top 30 Global Emerging Ecosystem: Performance
Top 20 Asian Ecosystem: Performance

Highlights

With the ASEAN region boasting a population of more than 650 million, Malaysia offers startups not just access to a market of nearly three times the size of the U.S. but also the talent and support needed to grow. Malaysia's lead agency in digital transformation, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), is spearheading efforts in connecting Malaysian founders with ecosystem stakeholders ranging from accelerators and coworking spaces to investors, mentors, and corporate customers; they offer end-to-end support at every stage of their companies’ growth. MDEC not only helps connect companies to investors, but its Founders Grindstone program also trains entrepreneurs in key fundraising skills such as preparing a pitch deck and investor relations. In 2020, MDEC introduced six different avenues for fundraising, thanks to which Malaysian startups have raised a total of $126 million as of August 2021. For eight years running Malaysia has been benchmarked #1 in the world by the Global Islamic Economy Indicator, with its vibrant Islamic Fintech ecosystem contributing greatly to its impressive performance. Working in collaboration with regulators, government agencies, and financial institutions, MDEC continues to build on the Islamic Digital Economy Ecosystem to position Malaysia as the Islamic Finance Hub 2.0. Malaysian startups have had a good start to 2021 in terms of fundraising. Notable funding news this year includes used car sales platform Carsome’s US$200 million round in September, which made the company Malaysia’s first unicorn, and ADA which raised a US$60 million corporate round in May.

Ecosystem by the numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
$165 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$431 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
$16.1 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$10.5 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND
$151 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$494 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND
$1.1 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$2.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY
$17 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$42.1 k

Sub-sector Strengths

Gaming

Kuala Lumpur is a budding regional gaming hub, and several global companies, including PlayStation Studios, recently opened offices in the city. Malaysian gamers spent $786 million on video games in 2020, while Malaysian game developers brought in $1.77 million from exports in 2018. Malaysia hosts LEVEL UP KL, the largest conference for game developers in Southeast Asia. MDEC announced US$2.25 million in grants in April 2021, mainly to the digital creative content industry which has created over 10,000 jobs.

Fintech

Malaysia was ranked 34 out of 134 countries in readiness to transition to a digitized economy by the Network Readiness Index 2020, . As of April 2019, there were close to 233 Fintechs in Malaysia. Islamic financing plays a large role in the sector, encompassing 37% of the banking system as of 2020. Ewallet firm TNG Digital raised fresh funding in July 2021 at a valuation of US$700 million. Kuala Lumpur also hosts the Malaysia Security Commission’s SCxSC Fintech Conference.

Reasons to move your startup to Kuala Lumpur

Educated Workforce

With nearly 40% of Malaysia’s population under the age of 25, the Kuala Lumpur region has a strong pipeline of skilled young talent. Over 330,000 students are enrolled in more than 240 institutions of higher learning. This talent pool is diverse, and multilingual. Most Malaysians speak English fluently.

Supportive Business Environment

The Malaysian government introduced a Fund of Funds totaling US$481 million to encourage foreign investors and VCs to invest in regional startups. MDEC's MTEP visa offers a 1-year pass for new entrepreneurs and a 5-year pass for established entrepreneurs. MDEC also received grant allocations of US$26.3m to spur content, product and market development for tech startups.

Startup Community

Startup Genome
Members

Startup Genome
Partners

1337
500 Startups
Captii Ventures
Endeavor
Found8
MBAN
MaGIC GAP
Malaysia Digital Hub
Petronas CVC
Proficeo
RHL Ventures
Redbeat Ventures
Selangor Accelerator Programme by SITEC
Startup Mamak
Sunway iLabs Incubator & Accelerator
UNCDF
Unicroach
Worq

Get connected

Are you interested in diving deeper into this ecosystem? Drop us a message. Our Ambassadors and Partners can plug you in.