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  • 19 Apr 2019 12:18 PM | Anonymous

    NS BlueScope Malaysia has completed the acquisition of YKGI Holdings' Berhad’s facility in Klang, Malaysia.

    The assets comprise a push-pull pickling line, cold rolling mill, continuous galvanizing line and a continuous colour coating line. NS BlueScope Malaysia an operating entity of NS BlueScope Coated Products, which is a 50/50 joint venture with Nippon Steel Corporation (NSC) and BlueScope Steel Australia (BSL) focusing on coated products business in Southeast Asia and the USA.

    NS BlueScope Coated Products believes that the acquisition has further strengthened its responsiveness to the needs of customers in the building and construction market. 

    The acquisition gives NS Bluescope Malaysia access to 'a cost-effective source of cold rolled substrate' and provides options to supply cold rolled feed to other operations in the ASEAN JV as well as future growth potential via additional coating and painting capacity.

    Source: Steel Times International 

  • 02 Apr 2019 11:02 AM | Anonymous
    • International delegation to visit WA food producers and processors
    • Opportunities to boost WA exports to South-East Asia and drive jobs in WA agriculture 

    Connecting Western Australian agrifood businesses with export opportunities to South-East Asia is the key focus of an international delegation visit this week.

    The McGowan Government, through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, is this week hosting a delegation of buyers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to visit export-ready food and beverage businesses across southern Western Australia.

    The South-West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Perth metropolitan regions will be the focus of the visit, showcasing premium products including fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood.

    The South-East Asian region is home to half of WA’s top 10 global markets for agriculture and food products. At $2.3 billion in 2016-17, it represented 27 per cent of WA’s food and agriculture exports.

    These countries are key markets for premium food products including milk, chilled beef, prawns, carrots, strawberries, wine, wheat and malt.

    The rapidly expanding Asian middle class and rising demand for high-value food products provides a real opportunity for Western Australia to boost trade to the region.

    As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:

    “South-East Asia is a region with growing demand for food and rich in opportunity for local food and beverage businesses to establish long-term export supply contracts.

    “WA’s proximity to the region and reputation for producing premium produce means we are perfectly placed to capture increasing demand for fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy, seafood, wine, grains and value-added, premium produce. 

    “Critically, we can supply counter-season products from the Northern Hemisphere – giving our producers a real competitive edge. 

    “This visit is a fantastic opportunity for the international buyers to meet with producers and processors, and experience firsthand some of WA’s best food offerings.

    “Increasing WA trade to South-East Asia will not only benefit local agrifood businesses but also boost job opportunities and economic growth in the regions.”

    Source: Mirage News

  • 22 Mar 2019 8:32 AM | Anonymous

    KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s digital exports can increase to RM222 billion to the economy by 2030 from the current RM31 billion in the absence of digital trade barriers.

    AlphaBeta Singapore engagement manager Dr Konstantine Matthies said works done by Malaysia on digital economy has been very encouraging, especially in the setting up of a right organisation managing the sector.

    He added that the country has been very active in integrating small and medium enterprises into the digital economy and encouraging digital adoption under the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation.

    “The other thing is really making sure not to rush into regulations that may have a detrimental effect on digital trade.

    Play
    “Often, it is not so much the type of regulations but rather around the certainty of regulations, making the policy very transparent,” he told reporters at the launch of a report titled Data Revolution: How Malaysia Can Capture The Digital Trade Opportunity at Home and Abroad yesterday.

    Matthies pointed out that haphazard formulation of policy in digital economy could be interpreted in many ways and it could send a signal of uncertainties to the investors.

    The report was launched jointly by the Hinrich Foundation, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, the Malaysia Australia Business Council and AlphaBeta, which estimates the current and potential future economic values of digital trade to the Malaysian economy.

    According to the report, digital trade enables Malaysian firms to reduce the cost of storing data, improves business practices, generates richer business insights and enters new markets, while facilitating more efficient management of global supply chains.

    It reveals that digital trade could have a huge impact on the country’s domestic economy, with some of then biggest beneficiaries coming from outside the digital sector.

    To maximise future returns from digital trade, digital trade barriers at home and abroad need to be reduced, added the report.

    It outlines actions in four main areas that can help achieve this, namely ensuring open cross-border data flows, formulating innovation-oriented approaches to copyright and intermediary liability regulations, minimising border frictions, and encouraging digital adoption.

    Source: Borneo Post Online

  • 19 Feb 2019 5:24 PM | Anonymous

    Australian summer fruits have high nutritional value and appeal to the health conscious consumer writes Meera Murugesan

    FOR healthy eaters, fruits are a must-have in the daily diet.

    Besides the wide variety of local produce, Australian summer fruits, which are easily available in supermarkets today are also a great addition to the grocery list.

    Summer fruits such as nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots are a perfect match for the diet-conscious consumer as they are natural superfoods that are low in calories and Glycemix Index (GI), helping to restore energy, satisfy cravings in a healthy way and keeping you feeling full for longer.

    They also provide significant dietary fibre, potassium and antioxidants that encourage healthy digestion.

    SEASONAL FRUIT

    With Taste Australia having kicked off its “Sweeter When Shared” 2019 summer fruits campaign, Malaysians can now enjoy Australia’s freshest seasonal produce, brought to our supermarkets including Village Grocer.

    Taste Australia is the horticulture industry of Australia’s national marketing campaign and aims to support and drive demand for premium fresh produce from Australia into major markets throughout the world including Malaysia.

    The unique microclimates in Australian summer fruit production regions which includes very long hot days and cooler nights, intensifies the sugar levels in fruit, making sweeter fruit for people to enjoy says Daniel Havas, senior trade commissioner for Austrade.

    Summer fruits are also called stone fruit because of their pit (seed). Around 100,000 tonnes of summer fruit is produced by 1,200 growers from October to April each year from four major and two secondary production regions across Australia.

    Farmers have generations of expertise, and also apply strict biosecurity and food safety measures to guarantee the tastiest and safest fruits.

    Havas says almost 19,000 tonnes of fruit is delivered to Malaysia from Australia every year.

    “Australia has a reputation for clean, green and high quality produce,” he adds.

    These fruits are also handpicked to guarantee the best quality for consumers.

    Australian summer fruits are all-rounders; versatile, nutrient rich and sweet yet healthy says Jessica Beard from Taste Australia.

    Adding an Aussie summer fruit to your diet will boost your immune system with plenty of vitamin A, C, and E, improve eyesight as they are a rich source of carotenoids, and strengthen bones and teeth from vitamin K she explains.

    “You can eat them fresh to savour their true and pure flavour or add them to sweet or savoury meals to create another layer of balanced sweetness.”

    For a healthy lifestyle, it’s recommended that one consume five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit daily and Beard suggests summer fruits for at least one serving.

    It’s also important to pick the best fruit and in general, one should avoid greenish fruits or those that are pale in colour as these will be unripe.

    And to get children interested in consuming these nutritional fruits, mums can buy different summer fruits and mix them up for a colourful, pleasing and surprising treat for kids.

    They can also try different recipes including grilled peaches for a savoury dish or dice fresh summer fruits to be mixed with yoghurt or added to drinks for kids.

    meera@mediaprima.com.my

    FRUITY GOODNESS

    PEACHES, nectarines, apricots and plums are in the same family as the rose, and are a close relative to almonds - all belonging to the Rosacea family.

    PEACHES

    Peaches provide excellent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that help decrease the development of inflammatory joint conditions.

    It also helps maintain healthy immune function, protects cells from free radical damage, supports healthy brain function and healthy skin, and helps to increase iron absorption.

    Peaches are naturally low in sodium and naturally saturated fat free

    Nutritional Profile

    One peach provides:

    2 per cent of the average person’s daily kilojoule needs.

    2.5g dietary fibre, which helps to lower cholesterol and keeps you feeling full for longer.

    260mg potassium, which is needed for a healthy nervous system and healthy muscle function.

    24 per cent of RDI (recommended daily intake) of Vitamin C which helps maintain a healthy immune system, protects cells from free radical damage, supports healthy brain function and healthy skin and helps increase iron absorption.

    11 per cent of RDI of niacin (Vitamin B3) which is important for a healthy nervous system, brain function, fighting fatigue and for healthy skin.

    Selection and Storage

    Select unwrinkled peaches which are free of blemishes and discolouration.

    You can tell whether a peach is ripe by gently pressing it around the stem. A ripe peach will dent a little when pressed.

    Store firm peaches at room temperature to allow it to continue ripening and develop a soft and juicy texture.

    If a crisp texture is preferred, refrigerate peaches to prolong shelf life.

    NECTARINES

    Nectarines provide a good source of potassium which regulates blood pressure and reduces the risk of a heart attack. Nectarines are naturally sodium free and saturated fat free and have a low Glycemic Index of 43, providing slow released energy to keep you feeling full for longer.

    Nutritional Profile

    One nectarine provides:

    2 per cent of the average person’s daily kilojoule needs.

    2.3g dietary fibre, which helps to lower cholesterol and keeps you feeling full for longer.

    266mg potassium, which is needed for a healthy nervous system and healthy muscle function.

    A good source of Vitamin C, which equals to 33 per cent of RDI.

    13 per cent of RDI of niacin (Vitamin B3).

    Selection and Storage

    Choose unwrinkled nectarines, free of blemishes and discoloration.

    You can tell if a nectarine is ripe by gently pressing it around the stem. Ripe nectarines dent a little when pressed.

    White dots on the fruit are called “sugar speckles” and indicate sweetness.

    Store firm nectarines at room temperature to allow them to continue ripening and develop a soft and juicy texture.

    If you prefer a crisp texture, refrigerate to prolong shelf life.

    PLUMS

    Plums are a low glycemic index fruit, which help to control blood sugar and also contain Vitamin K which is a key nutrient for healthy bones and teeth. Plums are naturally low in sodium and naturally saturated fat free and have a low Glycemic Index of 53.

    Nutritional Profile

    One plum provides:

    2 per cent of the average person’s daily kilojoule needs.

    19 per cent of RDI of Vitamin A.

    12 per cent of RDI of Vitamin C.

    Selection and Storage

    Select unwrinkled and smooth skinned plums which are free of blemishes and discolouration.

    A greyish sheen on the plum is called the “bloom” and indicates freshness.

    Plums do not develop further sweetness after picking.

    If you prefer a softer plum, store at room temperature.

    Refrigerate plums to prolog shelf life and maintain firmness.

    APRICOTS

    Apricots are a low kilojoule fruit and rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene which are beneficial for eye health. Apricots are naturally low in sodium and naturally saturated fat free and have a low Glycemic Index of 34.

    Nutritional Profile

    One apricot provides:

    1 per cent of the average person’s daily kilojoule needs.

    11 per cent of RDI of Vitamin C.

    Selection and Storage

    Choose unwrinkled apricots, free of blemishes and discolouration.

    You can tell if an apricot is ripe by gently pressing it around the stem. A ripe one dents a little when pressed.

    A sweet apricot is an indication of ripeness.

    Store apricots at room temperature or refrigerate to prolong shelf life.

    FARM TO TABLE

    PEACHES, apricots, plums and nectarines make a great addition to a sweet or savoury meal or simply as a delicious snack on its own. Add them to your child’s lunchbox or use them to make delicious meals and desserts.

    Source: New Straits Times


  • 19 Feb 2019 5:00 PM | Anonymous

    Qantas has been named as the airline offering the best on-board wines in first and business class overall.

    The Australian flag carrier scooped six accolades at the annual Cellars in the Sky Awards, which included the coveted title of best overall wine list for 2018.

    Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific was runner-up while third place was shared by Qatar Airways and All Nippon Airways. American Airlines claimed a 'highly commended' for its overall cellar and British Airways scooped the award for having the best business class wine list.

    Sajida Ismail, British Airways' Head of Inflight Product, said: 'We pride ourselves on providing our customers with high quality wines and champagnes, so we are delighted to have won the Gold medal for the Best Business Class Cellar.'

    The Cellars in the Sky Awards are organised by Business Traveller and 33 airlines entered their premium offering wines for testing.

    In December, four independent judges spent two days blind taste testing and scoring the wines at London's Grosvenor Hotel.

    They then decided on winners for 14 categories that included awards for reds, whites, sparkling wines and fortified wines.

    As well as scooping the award for best wine cellar, Qantas also took top spots in categories including best first class white, best first class sparkling, best first class cellar, best presented first class wine list and best business class fortified/dessert wine.

    Cathay Pacific won two awards for best first class sparkling (shared with Qantas and Air France), and best business class red.

    The best first class red category was won by Malaysia Airlines and best first class fortified/dessert wine went to All Nippon Airlines.

    The award for best business class sparkling wine was won by Qatar Airways.

    The best business class white category was won by JetBlue, a US low-cost airline.

    The Cellars in the Sky Awards is now in its 33rd year, having been running since 1985.

    Source: Daily Mail

  • 19 Feb 2019 11:57 AM | Anonymous

    MCLEAN, VA—DoubleTree by Hilton is set to expand its footprint around the world, with nearly half of its 200 planned hotels located in the Asia Pacific region. Fourteen new DoubleTree by Hilton properties are slated to open this year across China, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, adding to the close to 560 existing DoubleTree by Hilton properties currently in its global portfolio that spans across 45 countries.

    To accommodate the region’s thriving economic centers and growing tourism industries, DoubleTree by Hilton looks to provide an upscale solution to those in or traveling to the region.

    “As DoubleTree by Hilton celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019, we are eager to continue providing guests in the Asia Pacific region and around the world with our outstanding DoubleTree hospitality,” said Shawn McAteer, SVP and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton. “By opening hotels such as DoubleTree by Hilton Weerawila Rajawarna Resort, our first property in Sri Lanka, our brand continues to maintain its commitment to innovation and the gold standard for hospitality for guests around the world.”

    From exploring the vibrant cultural hub of Perth, Australia at DoubleTree by Hilton Perth – Northbridge, to experiencing the eclectic metropolis of Surabaya, Indonesia at DoubleTree by Hilton Surabaya, each DoubleTree property will provide both leisure and business travelers access to key cultural and business centers across the Asia Pacific.

    “Hilton is leading the hotel construction pipeline in China, with DoubleTree by Hilton being our second fastest-growing brand in the region with more than 100 planned projects and an aggregate of close to 27,000 rooms,” said Sean Wooden, VP of brand management, Asia Pacific, Hilton. “While we reached a tremendous milestone of 50 DoubleTree by Hilton properties in Asia Pacific in 2018, we look forward to continuing our upward trajectory of growth with 14 DoubleTree by Hilton properties opening this year. These properties further our mission to be the most hospitable company in the world as we demonstrate our commitment by being where our guests want to travel across the region.”

    The brand’s global growth continues with the expansion of DoubleTree by Hilton across the Asia Pacific, opening the following hotels in 2019:

    Australia

    DoubleTree by Hilton Perth – Northbridge: Launched in the heart of Perth in January 2019, this hotel is the first DoubleTree by Hilton in Western Australia and the first new-build DoubleTree by Hilton property in the country.

    China

    DoubleTree by Hilton Shanwei: The seafront hotel is the first Hilton and only international hotel in Shanwei.

    DoubleTree by Hilton Yangzhou: The property will offer views of the Yangzhou skyline from stylish guestrooms, provide close access to local shopping and offer an array of on-property dining outlets.

    DoubleTree by Hilton Suzhou Wujiang: Overlooking the Jinghang Canal, this newly-constructed hotel will open as the only international hotel in Suzhou Wujiang’s business development zone.

    DoubleTree by Hilton Foshan – Nanhai: Located in central Nanhai District, the hotel will have a modern interior design, special art lighting systems and host the largest ballroom in its market.

    DoubleTree by Hilton Quzhou: The hotel will debut as the first Hilton-branded property in Quzhou located within the administration center and new Central Business District of the city.

    DoubleTree by Hilton Shenzhen Nanshan Residence: Located near Qianhai Free Trade Zone and High Tech Park, the property will be the very first DoubleTree by Hilton Residence in China.

    DoubleTree by Hilton Shanghai Jing An: The hotel is located in downtown Shanghai, which sees a strong and mature demand for both business and leisure hotel accommodation.

    Indonesia

    DoubleTree by Hilton Surabaya: Located in Surabaya’s city center on historic Jalan Tunjungan Road, the property will have the city’s largest ballroom, a large exhibition floor, 16 meeting rooms and a 360-degree rooftop meeting room.

    Malaysia

    DoubleTree by Hilton Putrajaya Lakeside: A conversion hotel, it will be Hilton’s first hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia’s administrative capital, when it opens.

    New Zealand

    DoubleTree by Hilton Napier Hotel & Suites: Situated in the coastal city of Napier, the property will offer a modern Art Deco-inspired aesthetic.

    Sri Lanka

    DoubleTree by Hilton Weerawila Rajawarna Resort: As the first Hilton property in Weerawila, this contemporary resort will be near three of the top 10 most visited Wildlife National Park and Sanctuaries in the Sri Lanka.

    Thailand

    DoubleTree by Hilton Phuket Banthai Resort: Located in the heart of Patong, it is directly opposite the white sandy beach and turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea.

    DoubleTree by Hilton Bangkok Ploenchit: Conveniently located in the heart of vibrant Bangkok, this hotel has views over the city from its 251 guestrooms, including four suites.

    Source: Hotel Business


  • 18 Feb 2019 2:39 PM | Anonymous

    PETALING JAYA: Australian-listed Lendlease, which is participating in a RM9bil mixed integrated development at the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) project in Kuala Lumpur, is in talks with several developers to jointly develop other large-scale projects in the country.

    Lendlease Malaysia chairman Dinesh Nambiar said with financing for the TRX project now secured, the group could focus on other developments.

    “We’ve had a number of approaches from developers with sites which we are evaluating,” he said at a recent precinct launch and development financing signing ceremony.

    “The plan is for Lendlease to secure new projects which will be of scale and continue to grow the business in Malaysia.”

    Last Tuesday, joint-venture (JV) partners Lendlease and TRX City Sdn Bhd (TRXC) secured a RM2.15bil financing facility for The Exchange TRX.

    The financing facility was secured from the consortium of HSBC, Maybank, Standard Chartered and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. The Exchange TRX is a mixed integrated development and is a 60:40 JV between Lendlease and TRXC.

    The 17-acre development comprises residential, office, entertainment and leisure, a public park, hotel and retail components.

    Dinesh said Lendlease was attracted to the prime location of the development.

    “Lendlease has been investing in Malaysia since 2009. TRX, with its location, has been a terrific site for us to acquire and develop.

    “Now that we have secured financing and work is underway, we’re exploring other opportunities,” he said.

    Lendlease’s previous projects in Malaysia include Petronas Twin Towers, Platinum Park development and Bank Negara’s Sasana Kijang and Lanai Kijang buildings in Kuala Lumpur; Alamanda Shopping Centre in Putrajaya; Setia City Mall in Shah Alam; and Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios in Johor.

    Lendlease Asia chief executive officer Tony Lombardo said the group saw good growth opportunities in Malaysia.

    “This (TRX) is a project that Lendlease has been focusing on since 2013. We’ve had a strong interest in Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur is one of the key cities that we want to grow our platform. Our investment in TRX is one of the largest on our group’s balance sheet today.

    “We’re investing RM2.1bil over the project’s life and it’s great to have the backing of the banks. The government, meanwhile, is committing RM1.2bil.

    “We were attracted to it because of the connectivity. The infrastructure that’s gone in were some of the critical things, but the defining thing for us is the 10-acre park,” he said.

    Lombardo is optimistic that the retail component of The Exchange TRX will do well in spite of the current retail market glut.

    “When you look at Malaysia, there are some malls that are struggling. But retail’s changing. People come for the experience and our mall will offer the latest generation in products.”

    According to the Malaysian Shopping Malls Association’s (PPK Malaysia) recent Malaysia Shopping Mall Industry Survey 2018, there are currently 671 malls with a net lettable area ranging from a minimum of 50,000 sq ft to 2.2 million sq ft.

    The survey, which comprised 47 respondent malls, revealed that the average occupancy rate stood at 92%, with an average monthly gross rental rate of RM7.87 per sq ft.

    Retail Group Malaysia in its recent report said it expected a 4.5% growth in retail sales for 2019.

    The Exchange TRX’s retail component will be completed in 2021.

    TRXC is the master developer of TRX. Because TRXC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Finance Ministry, this means the government owns 40% of The Exchange TRX.

    The TRX project has come under heavy scrutiny due to its association with scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

    Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the willingness of the four financial institutions to provide financing facilities for the project demonstrated how far TRX had progressed since the new government came into power.

    “We are slowly, but surely, exorcising the ghosts of 1MDB, which has tainted Malaysia and allowed us, once again, to be touted as the destination for both business and investment,” he said.

    When the Pakatan Harapan government came into power in May last year, among the ongoing mega projects that came under scrutiny was the TRX. Not only was it linked to 1MDB, the ongoing property glut also raised concerns on whether the development was even viable.

    Given how the project was already quite advanced in its development stage and a lot of money had already been pumped in, the government chose not to scrap it.

    To date, seven plots of land in TRX totalling RM2.88bil have been sold. 1MDB acquired the TRX land from the federal government for RM302.38mil in 2010.

    With an estimated gross development value of RM40bil, the TRX development will have about 30 buildings located on 70 acres of prime land in Kuala Lumpur.

    The entire TRX project is slated for completion by 2024.

    Source: The Star


  • 12 Feb 2019 11:24 AM | Anonymous

    KUALA LUMPUR: Australian-listed Lendlease and TRX City Sdn Bhd (TRXC), which are co-developing the Lifestyle Quarter development at the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), have secured a RM2.15bil financing facility for a period of five years.

    The financing facility was secured from the consortium of HSBC, Maybank, Standard Chartered and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

    At a financing facility signing ceremony today, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the arrangement between the joint venture parties and the bank is a unique financing structure for such a complicated asset.

    The Lifestyle Quarter is a mixed integrated development and is a 60:40 joint venture between Lendlease and TRXC.

    The 17-acre development comprises residential, entertainment, leisure, public park, hotel and retail components.

    The Lifestyle Quarter is expected to be completed in 2020/2021.

    TRXC is the master developer of TRX.

    Because TRXC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Finance Ministry, this means the government owns 40% of The Lifestyle Quarter.

    With an estimated gross development value of RM40bil, the TRX development will have about 30 buildings located on 70 acres of prime land in Kuala Lumpur.

    The entire TRX project is slated for completion by 2024.

    Source: The Star


  • 06 Feb 2019 10:58 AM | Anonymous

    KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, with a score of 95 out of 100, ranked first in the Best Healthcare in the World category of the 2019 International Living Annual Global Retirement Index.

    According to the International Living website (https://internationalliving.com/countries-best-healthcare-world), among the top six countries that obtained the best ratings in the category of Best Healthcare in the World for this year, Malaysia ranked first with its world-class healthcare services and sophisticated infrastructure.

    It said that 13 hospitals in the country were accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI).

    Almost all doctors — the majority of them trained in the United Kingdom, the United States or Australia — were fluent in English, making communication easy.

    “There are both private and public hospitals for expatriates to choose from to suit one’s needs.

    “The private hospitals tend to be a bit more expensive but are more up to Western standards than the public hospitals.”

    But it said even at the private hospitals, the treatment was affordable for minor visits.

    “In Malaysia, you don’t need to make an appointment to see a specialist and you don’t need a referral from a general practitioner. It’s as simple as registering at a hospital of your choice and waiting in line to see your specialist of choice,” it said.

    “The prescriptions in Malaysia cost a fraction of what you pay at home. But it’s not just the cost that is attractive – it’s the service.

    “Pharmacists, similar to other medical staff in Malaysia, are well-trained and informed.

    “The Malaysians are friendly people, but it’s the genuine interest they take which impresses,” it said.

    Source: Free Malaysia Today

  • 01 Feb 2019 10:26 AM | Anonymous

    by Vincent Fong January 30, 2019

    Recently I had the pleasure of joining the ASEAN Tech Challenge which was organised by The Australian Trade and Investment Commission and the New South Wales Government.

    Held in Sydney the ASEAN Tech Challenge is a platform for Australian startups and scaleups to pitch solutions to ASEAN investors like Red Beat Ventures (Air Asia) , Kickstart Ventures (Ayala Corporation) and Petronas Venture Capital.

    While I was there, I took the opportunity to spend the week meeting some of the local players to get a sense of the fintech ecosystem in Australia.

    Touring the Sydney Startup Hub

    My first stop was the Sydney Startup Hub, spanning over 17,000 square feet and 11 floors — it’s strategically located in the heart of Sydney’s commercial business district.

    The Sydney Startup Hub is a NSW Government initiative led by Jobs for NSW, a NSW Government-backed agency established in August 2016 to support the growth of new jobs across this state.

    I learnt that the NSW Government will invest $35 million into Sydney Startup Hub over the next five years, which I found really interesting. While there are a number of global peers with startup hubs of a similar nature, none have government investment.

    The ground floor of the hub features an open layout with a cafe as its centerpiece. The space is open to public, anyone can pop-in and use the Wi-Fi for free.

    One could immediately sense the energy in the space once you walk in. When i was there several days of the week to meet-up with local players, the space was always filled with people hot-desking for several hours and having their meetings there.

    When we caught up with Joshua Flannery, Director, Sydney Startup Hub, he shared since its launch in February 2018, the Sydney Startup Hub initiative have since created over 980 jobs and raised over $AUD 80 Million.

    Interestingly, the Sydney Startup Hub consists several anchor residents that ranges from early stage incubators to corporate accelerators each with its own dedicated floor.

    The incubators include Stone & Chalk, Fishburners, Tank Stream Labs and The Studio. Whereas the corporate and government residents include some big names like Microsoft’s ScaleUp accelerator program, Caltex’s C-lab, Transport for NSW’s Future Transport Digital Accelerator and the Department of Finance.

    Joshua also explained that cost pressures brought by rapidly rising real estate prices has made it increasingly difficult for these incubators to support the startups, which will inevitably lead to the costs being passed to the startups. A scenario as such, would make it prohibitive for early stage startups to be part of the ecosystem.

    The hub provides subsidised rates for the incubators which in turn enables them to continue running programmes to boost the startup ecosystem.

    Beyond just economics, hosting these accelerators and incubators together is certainly a strategic move, as it helps to weave communities from various stages and verticals to mingle with each other to learn, grow and collaborate together.

    The hub could also provide benefits to Malaysian fintech companies eyeing the Australian market. David Albaiceta, who works for the NSW Government based in Kuala Lumpur as Director Trade and Investment, accompanied me during my visit to the Sydney Startup Hub.

    David mentioned that back in Kuala Lumpur local Malaysian fintechs had already expressed an interest in the Australian market and were looking at the Sydney Startup Hub as a potential landing pad.

    At the same time, I also realized that some of the Australian startups based at the Sydney Hub were also very interested on what the Malaysian and other ASEAN markets could offer. I could sense some synergies in both ways.

    Out of the 9 residents, two of them have a fintech skew to it namely; Stone & Chalk a well-known Australian fintech hub and Tank Stream Labs who won the best Best Co-working Space in Australia at the inaugural Fintech Awards.

    Being a fintech geek, I wouldn’t be doing myself a favour if I didn’t take a chance to tour the two spaces.

    Tank Stream Labs

    Started in 2012, Tank Stream Labs primarily works with growth stage startups and scale-ups. It is currently home to 150 tech companies, of which 30% are fintech startups.

    Yaron Rudman, COO Tank Stream Labs told Fintech News Malaysia that the dominant make up of fintech companies at its space is more of a reflection of Sydney’s startup landscape than it is a conscious effort from Tank Stream Labs.

    The space also features areas where residents can organically interact which includes a swanky coffee machine, a pool table as you would expect from a co-working space.

    Yaron told Fintech News Malaysia that despite having organised multiple events to have people interact with each other, sometimes the best ideas come from organic interactions that happen while waiting for their coffee or over a relaxing game of pool.

    Stone & Chalk

    My next stop was Stone & Chalk, who some have described as both the largest fintech hub and centre of gravity for fintech in Australia. Based in several locations, its Sydney Startup Hub arm is home 109 startups with over AUD$218 Million Raised, 26 large corporates.

    Beyond just being a space where fintech founders to plug in the laptops and work, Stone & Chalk also functions as conduit for their corporate partners to work with innovative fintech startups. The large corporate partners feature familiar names like KPMG, AIG, Australia Stock Exchange, and HSBC.

    Some of notable graduates include promising companies like Brighte, a fintech firm focuses on giving Australians access to sustainable removing the upfront cost of owning solar panels for end consumers.

    Another alumni that is worth mentioning is AgriDigital, which is a blockchain powered platform that is designed to manage supply chain from the farmers all the way to the consumers. To date it has transacted over $AUD 255 Million in value.

    Lessons For Malaysia ?

    There’s no shortage of co-working spaces in Malaysia, ranging from broadly focused to vertical specific ones. Names like WORQ, Common Ground, NEM Blockchain Center, Orbit and ADAX (ASEAN Data Analytics eXchange) are familiar names to those who are in the startup scene.

    Malaysian founders are spoiled for choice when it comes to co-working spaces and incubators, however much of these exists within their own vacuum. Fintech does not exist in isolation neither should it community, an initiative as such could help various startup communities to stop existing in isolation.

    Cross-pollination of these community can help founders better understand how their solution can fit outside of their own current market and could perhaps even spark brilliant ideas that weren’t previously thought of.

    There are already a few areas in which a concentration of co-working/incubator spaces exists, in Bangsar South there Orbit and ADAX which are both initiatives by MDEC, with the former being fintech focused and the latter data focused.

    Whereas Glo Damansara is home to both NEM Blockchain Centre and WORQ. There’s also plenty of unrented retail spaces in that mall which I’m sure if there’s a large enough scale, a substantial discount can be negotiated.

    Perhaps if the Startup and VC Commission previously mulled by Minister Gobind comes to fruition this could be one of the first initiatives to be considered?

    Source: Fintech Malaysia

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