THE local technology fraternity is proving that the Covid-19 pandemic is no barrier for them to be innovative.
While exhibitions and conferences are stll banned these days, the online space is buzzing more than ever with activities.
Five startups from the Cyberview Living Lab Accelerator (CLLA) programme 13th Cohort recently took to the Internet to showcase what they have been up to in the past year.
The programme focuses on enabling tech startups to be among the pioneers to work towards providing products and services and transform Cyberjaya into a smart city.
During the virtual Demo Day, in collaboration with Finnext Capital, the startups were given the opportunity to showcase their products and services to a wide online audience, including investors, venture capitalists, corporate partners, government agencies, entrepreneurs and members of the media.
This cohort is made up of startups focusing on artificial intelligence (AI), financial technology (fintech), robotics and retail technology.
The fast five
The five startups - ERTH, VITA, Red Angpow, Engage and Moovby — gave innovative demonstrations showcasing, respectively, an AI-powered electronic waste-recycling platform, an AI health app which provides early warning for future risk of chronic disease, an online map-based solution that conducts real estate due diligence and feasibility studies within minutes, an AI-driven customer retention solution and a peer-topeer car-sharing platform.
"The five startups are at the tipping point of commercialisation. Through the programme, they leveraged on a launchpad to test and pilot their offerings within the smart city of Cyberjaya," said Cyberview's managing director, Najib Ibrahim.
"Given the current Covid-19 pandemic, we made the decision to host our Demo Day virtually this year, and we are pleased with the strong turnout. As this event has proven, it is always important that businesses and startups today remain hungry, agile and resilient in order to adapt to unexpected changes," he said.
In previous years, the Demo Day was usually held at the Cyberview office in Cyberjaya.
"Despite the MCO (Movement Control Order), we are always finding ways to keep the accelerator programme running so that our startups can take the next step," said Cyberview's head of technology Hub Development Division, Siti Shafinaz Mohd Salim.
Altogether, since the inception of the CLLA programme, Cyberview has nurtured 75 startups.
Commenting on the challenges faced by the startups, Siti Shafinaz said just like any other business, startups need to find new ways to conduct their operations.
This includes expanding their business scope, even exploring outside of their industry.
"If they are flexible, there are actually many opportunities for them to pivot during these trying times. It's an opportunity to reinvent themselves.
"A behavioural shift in consumer spending habits, for instance, has forced businesses to quickly move towards digitalisation in order to survive and stay relevant.
"Technology now plays a big role. Areas that have immense room for growth include artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things
(IoT), robotics, smart healthcare and cybersecurity," she said.
Besides the relief packages offered by the government, she added, startups must keep a close eye on their cashflow and expenditure.
"Even as restrictions are being lifted in stages, startups must remain cautious. It may be a challenge for them to adjust and adapt, but operating a business is always a learning curve," said Siti Shafinaz.
While funding is critical, it is equally if not more important for the startups to look into expanding and exploring opportunities that have great potential, she added.
She gave an example of TheLorry (an alumni of CLLA) which has expanded its transportation services for house/office relocation to include grocery delivery now.
"Startups must plan for the long run. It is uncertain if we will ever go back to the 'old normal' as there is still no vaccine for
Covid-19," she said.
Startups under the current CLLA cohort have taken steps to ensure business sustainability.
"There needs to be a strategy to face challenges during this pandemic.
"In fact, this topic was explored at our first virtual Cyberview Tech Talk in April this year. In attendance were business director of Finnext Capital, Aizat Rahim and co-founder and managing director of TheLorry, Nadhir Ashafiq.
"One of the key takeaways was that local startups should continue finding new opportunities even during uncertain times.
Demand evolves, presenting new territories such as online shopping, food delivery, e-learning and virtual collaboration for them to consider," she said.
Startups which have yet to embrace technology should do so," she emphasised.
* The application for Cohort 14 is close today by midnight.
Source: New Straits Times