Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur

MEMBERS:
Cradle Fund

“Malaysia views startups as a pivotal force in driving local innovation and technological advancement. Cradle, as the focal point for the nation’s startup ecosystem development, seeks to combine the resources and experiences of all ecosystem stakeholders and aims to place Malaysia among the top global startup ecosystems by 2030.”

Norman Matthieu Vanhaecke
CEO, Cradle Fund
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Highlights

Kuala Lumpur, is well on its way to rebuilding a reputation that once positioned it as a pioneering startup city in the region. New policies, such as the Malaysia Startup Ecosystem Roadmap (SUPER) 2021–2030, fuels the aspiring startup ecosystem to put the city at the forefront as a hub to nurture a new generation of startups.

In 2023, the Malaysian government allocated a budget of $317 million, which was significantly increased to $700 million in 2024, aimed to nurture and elevate the startup ecosystem in the country. As a significant step to streamline support services, the government is developing the MYStartup portal, serving as the Single Window for Malaysia's startups to foster collaboration and develop a comprehensive one-stop platform for the ecosystem.

Additionally, the ecosystem is expanding, propelled by ministries and the public along with increasing involvement of private entities to foster high-quality tech startups. Local startups receive support through grants, venture debt, and investments from entities including Cradle Fund, MAVCAP, and Khazanah. Venture capitalists, angel investors, equity crowd funders, and accelerators such as Gobi Partners, 500 Global, and pitchIN offer funding and support within the ecosystem.

As part of its aspiration to cement its place in the Top 20 Global Startup Ecosystem Report ranking, Malaysia was selected to lead the ASEAN Startup Initiative (ASI) in 2023. This initiative will act as a hub for regional activities, steering Malaysia’s trajectory toward regional expansion and boost its presence into other top global startup ecosystems to increase connectivity and market access opportunities.




Ecosystem by the Numbers

ECOSYSTEM VALUE
(H2 2021 - 2023)
$47 bn
GLOBAL AVG. $29.4 bn
TOTAL EARLY–STAGE FUNDING
(H2 2021 - 2023)
$255 m
GLOBAL AVG. $655 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE GROWTH
(H2 2021 - H2 2023 VS H2 2019 - H2 2021)
1%
1% 1 2 46% 46 100 0
GLOBAL AVG. 46%
NUMBER OF UNICORNS
(H2 2021 - 2023)
1
GLOBAL AVG. 3
MEDIAN SEED ROUND (H2 2021 - 2023)
$360 k
GLOBAL AVG. $985 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND (H2 2021 – 2023)
$2.8 m
GLOBAL AVG. $7.5 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY (2023)
$18.4 k
GLOBAL AVG. $47 k
EARLY-STAGE FUNDING GROWTH (2020 - 21 VS. 2022 - 23)
7
Scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest)
TOTAL VC FUNDING (2019 - 2023)
$2.7 bn
GLOBAL AVG. $4.6 bn
TIME TO EXIT (2019 - 2023)
8.3 years
GLOBAL AVG. 10 years
EXIT AMOUNT (2019 - 2023)
$41 bn
GLOBAL AVG. $8.9 bn
EXIT COUNT (#)
(2019 - 2023)
54
GLOBAL AVG. 80
9
8
12
15
10
2019
2020
2021
2022
2023

Sub-Sector Strengths

Fintech

In the vibrant landscape of 2023, Kuala Lumpur’s Fintech arena thrived, with notable players such as Policy Street, Soft Space, and Beldex taking center stage. In June 2023, Policy Street secured $15.3 million, while Soft Space raised $31.5 million in an April 2023 Series B, and Beldex garnered $25 million in a February 2023 Series A. PayHalal, specializing in internet payment gateways and e-wallet issuance, secured $4.5 million in seed funding in 2023.

AI, Big Data & Analytics

AI, Big Data, and Analytics persist as burgeoning technologies in Malaysia, attracting global leaders such as Microsoft and AWS to invest in the country's digitization initiatives. Microsoft has committed to a $1 billion data center over the next five years, while AWS, with its earlier pledge of $5.38 billion, aims to establish a new AWS Region in Malaysia by 2037. Noteworthy startups like Ejen2u, Respond.IO, and Urbanmetry have secured funding in this dynamic space, highlighting its substantial potential.

Sustainability & Environment

Sustainability took center stage in 2023, resonating in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Corporate giants Petronas and Khazanah Nasional Berhad led impactful initiatives with a strong focus on sustainability. Initiatives such as Petronas FutureTech 3.0 and Dana Impak encouraged startups to demonstrate innovative and measurable impacts. Noteworthy startups like Progressture Solar, BoomGrow, Qarbotech, Entomal, and Materials In Work, which contribute to the sustainability and environment sector, secured seed funding in 2023.

Reasons to Move Your Startup to Kuala Lumpur

Educated Talent

Malaysia is actively developing its tech workforce through specialized programs targeting school students and graduates of higher educational and vocational institutions. One such initiative is the Digital Maker Programme, which has fostered digital creation skills to over 2.4 million students since its inception in 2016. Additionally, Malaysia is streamlining special visa processes to attract and retain foreign tech talent, with over 130 entrepreneurs benefiting from the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Programme (MTEP).

Ease of Doing Business

Malaysia ranked #12 globally in the World Bank’s final Ease of Doing Business Report (2019), and #2 in the ASEAN region. Launched in September 2023, the New Industrial Master Plan (NIMP 2030) under the Madani economic framework marks a strategic pivot towards enhancing the ease of doing business in Malaysia. In line with NIMP 2030, in November 2023, Google and the Malaysian Government announced a strategic alliance to bolster the country's digital competitiveness, with Google providing no-cost training to upskill 300,000 individuals by 2026.

Startup Assistance

Through government initiatives including the Cradle Fund, which streamlines startup processes; MY-Unicorn programme, which supports high-value startups through mentorship; and the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS), facilitating innovation with regulatory flexibility, Kuala Lumpur is rapidly advancing as a startup friendly city. The Technology Commercialisation Accelerator will also play a crucial role as an innovation hub, speeding up the commercialisation of R&D.

Selected Startup Organizations

Startup Genome Members

Key Ecosystem Players

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