Friday 23 Feb 2024
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This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on December 25, 2023 - January 7, 2024

Malaysia’s start-up landscape is brimming with untapped potential, but industry insiders acknowledge the existence of gaps that must be addressed to foster the rise of thriving local champions.

In 2023, several start-ups made waves with their impactful contributions to the nation. These innovative ventures garnered attention and support from angel investors, private equity, venture capital firms and even retail investors through equity crowdfunding (ECF).

Keep an eye on these 24 standout tech start-ups (in no particular order)that we believe are poised to make significant strides in 2024.

 

1. Entomal Biotech

Industry: Agriculture

Service/Product: Waste management and agriculture

Funding: RM1.75 million through equity crowdfunding and RM1.1 million grant awarded

Valuation: RM20 million

Backing/Investors: Petronas FutureTech, Khazanah Impact Innovation Challenge, Selangor Information & Digital Economy Corporation (SIDEC), Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC), Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology & Innovation (MRANTI), BioEconomy Corporation, Malaysian Green Tech & Climate Change Corporation (MGTC), Agrobank, Impact Circle Malaysia

Website: entomal.com

Entomal focuses on biowaste treatment and insect protein production using the black soldier fly. The company aims to provide sustainable solutions for a world that is facing food security, poverty and climate change challenges.

It is building the first-ever mobile waste recycling solution in the country and promoting the benefits of insect farming, which produces a carbon footprint that is 211 times smaller than beef farming.

The company was crowned the wInner at Petronas Future Tech 3.0, Tech Planter Malaysia, Selangor Accelerator Programme 2022, Panasonic Deep Tech Challenge and Taiwan Tech Innovation Excellence Award. It also made to the Global Top 50 Deep Tech Startup in Slingshot 2023, making it the only Malaysian startup on the list. To date, Entomal secured a total of RM1.1 million grant from Khazanah Dana Impak Fund, Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC), BioEconomy Corporation and Think City. 

In January 2023, the company’s latest equity crowdfunding round in MyStartr hit the maximum target amount of RM1.75 million with investments from 76 investors.

 

 2. ePink Health

Industry: Medical and healthcare

Service/Product: Virtual healthcare application

Valuation: RM11.75 million

Backing/Investors: MRANTI Global Accelerator Programme (GAP) 2023, SEATech Ventures Corp, Yayasan Pahang

Website: epink.health

ePink Health is an on-demand omnichannel platform that provides telemedicine, e-pharmacy, home care and preventive care services such as health screenings, integrated wellness programmes and immunisation. It also provides personalised healthcare and services, such as medical second opinions and medication doorstep delivery.

ePink’s mobile application is currently in the final stage of pilot testing.

The company received support from the MRANTI GAP 2023 and the SEA Unicorn 2023 by SEATech Ventures Corp, emerging as finalists in both programmes. It also achieved recognition from the Pahang Innovative Startup Accelerator 2023 organised by Yayasan Pahang.

 

3. WeAssist

Industry: Medical and healthcare

Service/Product: Healthcare application

Website: www.weassist.asia

WeAssist connects healthcare professionals with healthcare facilities. The company developed Locum Apps, an application that connects hospitals and clinics in Malaysia to licensed medical staff for locum services. As at May 2023, Locum Apps had seen RM7.04 million worth of transactions, completed 27,527 jobs and booked 259,001 locum hours.

WeAssist was among the top five winners of The National Tech Association of Malaysia’s SEADragon 2022, which was held at the World Congress on Innovation and Technology 2022.

 

4. Circafeed

Industry: Agriculture

Service/Product: Biotechnology (livestock feed production application)

Funding: RM1.5 million

Valuation: RM6 million to RM10 million

Backing/Investors: MRANTI GAP 2023

Website: circafeed.com

Circafeed aims to produce large-scale, high-yielding sustainable feedstock plantations for animal feed, renewable energy and industrial products. It is working with Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Tapah and the Perak Malay Chamber of Commerce to develop and operate a large-scale napier plantation in UiTM Tapah for sustainable livestock feed production in line with the government’s goal to improve the nation’s food security.

For its seed round in early 2023, the company raised RM1.5 million from a Malaysian family office. Circafeed is currently expanding its local presence and preparing for export. It s in the midst of finalising its Series A funding as it has received offers from family offices in Singapore and Dubai as well as a Malaysian government-linked company.

 

5. Mobiva

Industry: Data science (augmented analytics and data discovery)

Service/Product: Real-time data dashboard application

Funding: Self-funded/bootstrapped

Backing/Investors: MRANTI GAP 2023

Website: mobiva.net

Mobiva leverages the power of its artificial intelligence (AI) dashboard to gain real-time insights on and visualisations of disaster data, enabling well-informed decision-making. This enables faster emergency response by sharing crowd-sourced data with first responders and rescue agencies, mapping hazards and vulnerabilities. Decision-makers with critical information are able to ensure aid is quickly delivered to those who need it most, including children.

Mobiva emerged as one of the finalists for MRANTI GAP 2023.

 

6. WyseTime Technologies Sdn Bhd

Industry: Software and web analytics

Service/Product: Video data analytics and reports tool

Backing/Investors: Growth Chargers Ventures and SAP 2023

Websites: www.wysetime.com

WyseTime uses video analytic technology to improve business efficiency by understanding online traction and receiving automated recommendations. Its business intelligence platform analyses all operations and departments with easy-to-use reports.

Wysetime’s factory intelligence solution enhances privacy and employee traffic management onsite. It also provides remote surveillance monitoring through mobile devices for real-time inspection.

Its AI and IoT-based epidemic prevention management system provides body temperature and mask wearing detection, paired with an instant alert notification system.

Wysetime was one of the 20 finalists in SAP 2023’s sixth cohort and is featured as one of Growth Charger’s Ventures start-ups.

 

7. Mediverse Health

Industry: Medical and healthcare

Service/Product: AI medical diagnostic tool

Funding: RM30-50 million

Valuation: NA

Backing/Investors: Self-funded

Website: mediverse.my

Mediverse provide tools to reduce the burden on overworked healthcare systems by harnessing the power of AI to improve patient care and accessibility.

Its AI Symptom Checker helps individuals diagnose their symptoms based on the information they provide. The tool uses AI and machine learning algorithms to analyse the symptoms and provide possible diagnoses and treatment options. Mediverse’s soon-to-be-launched AI Lab Synapse will decode health reports, understand health causes and unlock health insights.

Mediverse was a MRANTI GAP 2023 finalist.

 

8. Datanam Sdn Bhd

Industry: Agriculture

Service/Product: Grows fresh produce

Backing/Investors: Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Malaysia, Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology, Agro Bank, Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Bioeconomy Corporation, Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia

Website: www.datanam.com

Datanam uses precision vertical farming that combines the practices of local farms with the latest technologies to grow produce in a systematic way. It provides modular farms, from personal gardens to commercial greenhouses.

DATANAM-OS, an IoT-based system, optimises plant growth using data from its global partner farms to ensure resources are used effectively. It helps connect farmers, plans farming, reduces food waste and lets farmers create “satellite farms” to grow vegetables based on market demand.

DATANAM-FreshTrack, in partnership with a Malaysian agency, aims to ensure quality farm-to-fridge food with a blockchain framework.

 

9. HappyPreggie Technologies Sdn Bhd

Industry: Healthcare

Service/Product: Pregnancy and parenting childcare services

Funding: RM3.57 million

Backing/Investors: Cyberview Living Lab Accelerator (CLLA) programme 2023

Website: www.happypreggie.com

A Malaysian maternal and pregnancy care platform that provides parents with access to health and wellness professional services. The platform offers digital access to holistic care throughout the family-building journey, from family planning to pregnancy and parenting.

HappyPreggie connects users with its partner healthcare professionals and coaches for parenting hacks, confinement centres after giving birth, or even postpartum emotional support.

 

10. Acxyn

Industry: Web3

Service/Product: Web3 gaming development

Funding: RM750,000

Backing/Investors: Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)

Website: www.acxyn.xyz

Acxyn aims deliver web3 access to the way games are designed and valued by building a sustainable economic infrastructure. This also eases decentralised web adoption to unlock the true economic potential of games, where game producers will have complete ownership of their revenue streams and game communities.

Game developers get to enhance the visibility and value of their intellectual properties (IP) and, as a result, their investability.

Acxyn was one of the only web3 start-up that was awarded a RM750,000 MDEC grant as part of its collaboration to develop an IP tokenisation system.

 

11. ReSkills

Industry: Education

Service/Product: Online learning platform

Valuation: RM100 million

Backing/Investors: Selangor Accelerator Programme 2023, RZB Holdings, JSF Platinum Sdn Bhd, Datuk Dr Hamid Arshat and other investors

Website: reskills.com

A subscription-based online learning platform that allows users to access live learning courses, videos, talks, conferences and materials focusing on professional growth and business entrepreneurship.

In March, ReSkills collaborated with University of Malaya Centre of Innovation and Enterprise to give students access an array of industry experts, resources and training materials to help them succeed in the modern marketplace.

During its angel investment round, the company secured RM8 million.

 

12. carching

Industry: Automotive

Service/Product: Advertising application

Funding: RM140,000

Backing/Investors: roiquant Pre Seed Startup Competition 2023, Cradle’s MyStartup Pre-Accelerator Programme and MIH Consortium for Startups Accelerator, powered by Techstars (Sept 2022), angel investors

Website: www.carching.co

A solutions-based company that rewards users for turning cars into a branding platform. Drivers can choose the brand that the car will be wrapped in. The company creates car wrap designs, where the brand elements are seamlessly integrated into the anatomy of the cars.

According to news reports, carching is looking to raise RM500,000 in pre-seed funding and was part of Cradle’s MyStartup Pre-Accelerator Programme 2022 and MIH for Startups powered by Techstars 2022.

 

13. Dear Kyra (Dear Kyra Sdn Bhd)

Industry: Healthcare

Service/Product: Pharmaceutical, medical goods and healthcare platform

Valuation: RM2 million

Backing/Investors: Penang Startup Accelerator Programme 2022 and SAP 2023

Website: dearkyra.com

Dear Kyra’s telehealth platform facilitates connections between women and experienced healthcare professionals to provide discreet and convenient access to personalised healthcare services. The company also tackles topics that are considered taboo such as birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.

The start-up was one of the finalists for the Penang Startup Accelerator Programme 2022 and SAP 2023.

 

14. CoKeeps (CoKeeps Sdn Bhd)

Industry: Finance

Service/Product: Digital asset security solutions

Funding: RM150,000 (September 2022) with Cradle Fund, raised an undisclosed amount from angel investors and venture capital in 2023

Backing/Investors: Cradle Fund, CIP Spark Grant

Website : www.cokeeps.com

CoKeeps Sdn Bhd acts as a safe box for digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, their exchanges and hedge funds. The start-up’s solution, a third-party custodial service, protects private keys used to access digital assets via its core proprietary technology — CoKeeps Wallet, an institutional-grade digital asset management tool utilising decentralised security and multi-party computation methodology.

CoKeeps was given approval as the first digital asset custodian by the Securities Commission Malaysia.

 

15. Beebag

Industry: Waste management and disposal

Service/Product: Rewards application with reusable shopping bags

Funding: RM100,000

Backing/Investors: CLLA, Cradle Fund’s CIP Spark Grant

Website: www.beebag.co

Beebag helps users earn rewards on everyday purchases that come with a reusable shopping bag. Cradle’s CLLA programme supports start-ups by tracking the development of solutions and products before commercialising them in the market. Resources by CLLA are valued at over US$21,500 (RM100,000) for each company and this includes a rent-free workspace, resources, business advisory and hands-on mentoring to help equip start-ups with viable business models and market access opportunities.

The grant will be used to develop Beebag’s app, adding new features and improving the user experience.

 

16. FatHopes

Industry: Waste management and disposal

Service/Product: Collecting and repurposing used cooking oil

Backing/Investors: Alipay-NUS Enterprise Social Innovation Challenge 2019

Website: www.fathopesenergy.com

Focuses on collecting and purifying used cooking oil from houses and fast-food chains to be processed and exported to European countries, where it is used as a component to produce renewable diesel.

Recently, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with Dubai-based Lootah Biofuels LLC to supply sustainable aviation fuel to airlines flying out of Dubai International Airport.

In 2019, FatHopes was one of the regional finalists in the Alipay-National University Singapore (NUS) Enterprise Social Innovation Challenge and received a cash prize of US$7,392 to support its innovative waste management solutions.

 

17. Maeko

Industry: Waste management and disposal

Service/Product: Compost machines 

Funding: RM633,251

Valuation (pre-money in 2020): RM6,563,598

Backing/Investors: PlatCOM Ventures, Cradle Fund, Ata Plus

Website: www.maeko.com.my

Provides a food waste management solution to make food waste composting a closed-loop solution, as part of efforts to achieve zero food waste and environmental sustainability.

MunchBOT, its latest solution, was developed for home use to turn everyday food waste into reusable bio-organic compost and promote responsible food waste management.

In 2017, PlatCOM Ventures awarded Maeko a RM1.2 million matching grant as part of the former’s High Impact Programme 2 for the research and development of a home portable composting machine. In the same year, Cradle Fund awarded a grant of RM500,000 as part of its CIP 500 commercialisation fund programme to further stimulate the market.

In 2020, Maeko raised RM633,251 from 26 investors through the ECF platform Ata Plus.

 

18. AGTC Genomics

Industry: Biotechnology

Service/Product: Genome sequencing for disease detection, diagnosis and treatment

Backing/Investors: NA

Website: agtcgenomics.com

AGTC Genomics integrates advanced technologies in next-generation sequencing (NGS), microarrays and big data analytics platforms to offer in-depth genomics data analysis. These tests are useful in finding genetic variants that assist in understanding, diagnosing and treating human disease.

The company partnered with Universiti Malaya (UM) via the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Office (Research & Innovation) to focus on a research for advancing NGS approaches in medical science research, capacity building and biomarker development for colorectal cancer prevention. AGTC Genomics will work with the experts from UM’s Faculty of Medicine to develop new inventions for the underlying causes of genetic diseases and other medical conditions.

 

19. Qarbotech

Industry: Agriculture

Service/Product: biotechnology that increases crop yields by up to 60%

Funding: US$700,000 in seed funding and grants

Valuation: Undisclosed

Backing/Investors: 500 Global, Temasek Foundation, Khazanah Nasional

Website: www.qarbotech.com

Qarbotech’s patented photosynthesis enhancement nanotechnology is an on-plant or in-soil solution that increases crop yields by up to 60%. The company’s formulation contains biocompatible organic compounds with properties similar to chlorophyll, making it a game-changer for farmers around the world.

Its latest funding round was led by 500 Global, and includes innovation grants from the Temasek Foundation for winning the Climate Impact Innovations Challenge 2023 and Khazanah Nasional’s Dana Impak for winning the Khazanah Impact Innovation Challenge 2023.

 

20. CS Leaflabs

Industry: Reproductive healthtech

Service/Product: AI-based reproductive health solution

Backing/Investors: MRANTI GAP 2023

Website: www.csleaflabs.com

CS Leaflabs developed Fertilemate, a mobile app using AI to provide comprehensive reproductive health support and guidance. The company collaborated with University Putra Malaysia on groundbreaking initiatives in the field of reproductive health to spearhead the development of Fertilemate and conduct a human clinical study for the product Feminira, tailored for polycystic ovarian syndrome.

It is unclear how much funding the company has received. It is, however, part of MRANTI’s GAP, which is dedicated to nurturing the entire lifecycle of a company, offering not only financial support but also mentorship, networking opportunities and strategic guidance.

 

21. Materials In Works

Industry: Waste management and disposal

Service/Product: Mixed paper waste management and upcycling

Funding: RM2.03 million

Valuation: RM7.72 million

Backing/Investors: Retail investors via PitchIn

Website: www.materialsinworks.com

Materials In Works reintroduces residual paper liners from the label packaging industry back into the value chain as recovered cellulose pulp.

This prevents paper liner residues from ending up in landfills and focuses on recovering the cellulose pulp as raw material that meets the needs of local paper manufacturers. Materials In Works has gained acknowledgement from the United Nations for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 12 (responsible production and consumption) and SDG 13 (climate action).

The company raised RM2.03 million from 30 retail investors to strengthen its business-to-customer (B2C) services, grow its footprint in the business-to-business (B2B) space and establish itself as Malaysia’s largest all-brand repair network.

 

22. Recommend Group

Industry: Consumer goods and services

Service/Product: On-demand app and website for home services

Funding: RM819,390

Valuation: RM44 million

Backing/Investors: Retail investors via PitchIn

Website: recommend.my

A Southeast Asian home and property services platform that provides on-demand home maintenance services, a marketplace for home improvement services and an interior design company that can furnish a home in as short a time as six weeks.

The company raised RM819,390 from 27 retail investors to strengthen its B2C services, grow its footprint in the B2B space and establish itself as Malaysia’s largest all-brand repair network. The campaign was successfully funded on Sept 20, 2023.

 

23. GK Aqua

Industry: Agriculture

Service/Product: Cultivation of mono-sex freshwater prawns and carbon-neutral food

Funding: RM4.6 million

Backing/Investors: PlatCOM Ventures, SME Corp, Cradle Fund

Website: www.gk-aqua.biz

Pioneers innovation in mono-sex freshwater prawns, offering advanced solutions for premium sustainable cultivation and marketing. Its biotech solution helps freshwater prawn farmers achieve three times higher yields using monosex production technology.

Sento Biotech Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of GK Aqua, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to tackle food security and waste management.

Sento Biotech has been spearheading efforts in sustainability and carbon-neutral food production through its work with plant-based insect meal, especially black soldier fly larvae, and the use of renewable resources like Sesbania. It provides a promising solution to the anticipated protein supply shortage and an unstable fish meal market.

Its CEO Giva Kuppusamy named the EY Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 Malaysia and has created more than 30 jobs for the disadvantaged through the inclusive Malaysian Udang Galah Aquapreneur (Muga) programme and public-private partnerships with the government. GK Aqua and Agrobank have signed an agreement for the anchor financing of the Muga programme, which will reduce the entry barrier for aspiring aquapreneurs.

It has raised a total of RM4.6 million from PlatCOM Ventures, SME Corp and Cradle Fund through grants that were used to solidify its biotechnology research and digitise its farms.

 

24. Global Cerah

Industry: Agriculture and waste management

Service/Product: Producing alternative protein sources from agricultural waste

Funding: RM532,000

Backing/Investors: roiquant Pre-Seed Startup Competition 2023, Khazanah Impact Innovation Challenge 2023, Sunway iLabs Super Accelerator Programme 2022, Yayasan Hasanah

Website: globalcerah.com

Provides a solution to integrate waste treatment and livestock feed processing under one production system. The company gathers waste from both farmers and restaurants and processes it through waste treatment machinery before transforming it into feed for livestock.

The whole process is consolidated under an automated system with advanced software and machinery. Through this, the company was also able to reduce the use of land as a waste dumping site by 30% and is looking to increase the rate consistently in the coming years.

The company was also one of the three winning start-ups at roiquant’s Pre-Seed Startup Competition 2023 to receive funding worth US$50,000 and an additional US$32,700 worth of cash and in-kind prizes.

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