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All eyes on the game-changing Global Transformation Forum 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, 13 Mar 2017 - Come 22 March 2017, participants from all around the world will convene in Kuala Lumpur to attend the Global Transformation Forum 2017 -- an event that gathers some of the world's most influential speakers and leaders to share their experiences on how to drive transformation.

Although the Global Transformation Forum has become an annual event, this year's forum is special as participants and investors are expecting some major announcements to be made. 

For a start, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group cofounder Jack Ma - who was recently appointed as Malaysia's digital economy advisor - will be one of the key speakers. 

Other influential speakers include Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, billionaire Sir Richard Branson, F1 driver David Coulthard, entrepreneur and author Chris Gardner (who Will Smith portrayed in the movie 'In Pursuit of Happyness'), and many more.

Besides a strong line-up of speakers, this year's Global Transformation Forum will likely see Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launching the Malaysia Digital Hub. 
What is the Digital Hub?
The Malaysia Digital Hub, an initiative by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), is one of the country's latest efforts to further enhance its technology startup ecosystem. 

It is a co-working place where startups and scale-ups can coexist and develop the next breakthrough ideas. The government will also help these startups with growth opportunities by providing them with incentives, market access intervention, facilitation of foreign partners to help them realise their full potential.
To encourage more local and global startups to jump on-board, the government will also be offering entrepreneurs visa, coaching and mentoring, access to funding, as well as tax exemption.

Of course, the initiative also involves providing incentives to encourage investors and global tech companies to invest in these startups as well as to set up base in the country.

The Malaysia Digital Hub - which will be located in the Klang Valley - will connect to the bigger Vision Valley project that the government is developing.
The Malaysia Digital Hub, as well as the Vision Valley project, will synergise with the government's existing tech-related initiatives like Malaysia Super Corridor (MSC). The Digital Hub will also complement tech-township and smart city Cyberjaya.  

"Cyberjaya is there, but land continues to be lesser for new companies to venture and expand. We regard technology firms as the backbone of our digital economy agenda.

“We are paying greater attention to tech-related companies as we estimate that in years to come, digital economy will account for more than 20% of the country’s gross domestic product,” said Treasury Secretary-General Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah recently.

“We also need to be competitive and be on par with other countries.” 

RAM Ratings Services Sdn Bhd economist Kristina Fong agreed that the Malaysia Digital Hub's success will play a key role in the country's economy and future. 

"In the process of gearing towards a digital economy by 2020, the creation of the Malaysia Digital Hub is of great importance. first, the benefits of any sort of economic hub provide positive economies of scale which can include costs savings, enhanced productive efficiency, as well as positive technical spillover effects from knowledge sharing and strategic tie-ups.

"Above and beyond this, the success of the setting up this sort of activity hub would require good infrastructure, policy clarity as well as other factors that contribute to the ease of doing business. Besides that, the availability of labour and relevant skills, as well as family amenities such as schools and hospitals, would also be required for the success of the hub to take off. 

"Thus, it is clear that economic development is a key benefit of the establishment of a digital hub, not only from the direct effects but also the periphery activities needed to support it, thus creating economic multiplier effects," said Fong.

She further added that the development of the Malaysia Digital Hub will not only benefit technology companies solely but will also help to provide and grow the technical expertise for other industries in the manufacturing sector as well. It will also help these industries to move the value chain.

"From the OECD-WTO Trade in Value-added database and classification, most of Malaysia’s exports in high-tech products are derived from foreign-sourced inputs, thus more FDI in higher-tech activities could help to re-shape the global supply chain to Malaysia’s advantage," said Fong.
More spillover effects
Mercury Securities head of research Edmund Thum said that activities like the development of the Malaysia Digital Hub and growing the startup ecosystem will also help boost the adoption rate of technology by Malaysia's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

"While technology adoption has improved among the SMEs, there is still a huge room for further improvement. I believe that startups - which are also in some ways part of the SME community - will be able to help address some of the SMEs pain points with new solutions.

"Over the longer-term, I hope this can also help increase the technology adoption rate of SMEs, which in turn, can help grow the country's economy," said Thum.

While higher tech adoption by SME could boost productivity, expand their business abroad, and help nation's economy, Fong highlighted that the SMEs may not have the same opportunities to access new technologies and possibly even less knowledge and access to breaking into new markets. 

"Thus, the opportunity to be involved in an incubator-style hub with access to well-established multinational companies in the tech arena is an invaluable opportunity. 

"In any case, SMEs cannot be left behind in the global tech cycle as they form the majority of firm density in the country as well as a good bulk of the employment opportunities. Given the large ‘people’ emphasis that SMEs have, the human capital spillover effects will be the most beneficial in this sort of collaboration and hub environment," said Fong.

While the spillover effects can help boost the country's economy, Thum added that the Malaysia Digital Hub will fit well with the country's existing plans -- such as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project, High-Speed Rail project and Bandar Malaysia project. 

"To attract these entrepreneurs, tech investors and multinationals into Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley, these decision makers will look at various aspects before they join the Malaysia Digital Hub.

"So, the various ongoing projects like the MRT, High-Speed Rail, will definitely boost the attractiveness of the Malaysia Digital Hub," he said.

Source: InvestKL