The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), today, launched the fourth instalment of its flagship programme, the Global Accelerator Programme (GAP) Cohort 4. GAP is a mid-to-late startup growth programme offering startups with upskilling opportunities, access to mentorship and route-to-partners, and a chance to expand their business regionally.
There are expectedly several changes to the programme this year. For one, this will now feature 40 startups (Cohort 3 had 30 participating startups, while Cohort 2 had 27). Secondly, as previously reported, the programme will now be entirely virtual.
More importantly, however, GAP Cohort 4 is focused on helping startups face the new normal created by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This is reflected in the programme’s theme: “Innovation, Transformation and Resilience” – three aspects that are needed for startups to continue thriving and surviving in a Covid-19 world.
MaGIC chief executive officer Dzuleira Abu Bakar states that the pandemic has highlighted the urgency to strengthen Malaysia’s social and economic fundamentals, which can be accelerated through innovation.
“Innovation will play a significant role in Malaysia’s economic recovery and we want the startup ecosystem to have the right tools to navigate this new normal,” she says.
“MaGIC believes that startups are the creative engine that will drive out-of-the-box solutions to the country’s challenges, so it’s crucial that programmes like GAP continue to help them pilot their vision and strategies to make their mark in Malaysia, the region, and the world.”
During the movement control order (MCO) period, MaGIC carried surveys which found that only 2.9% of startups were confident of surviving beyond 12 months under prevailing conditions, while 31% foresee a continued decline in sales.
Besides that, 20% of startups foresee financial stability challenges, while 17% predict slow economic conditions. A majority 63% of respondents indicated a need for financial aid.
“It's a very clear message here; we need to change and adapt,” says Dzuleira. “But if history teaches us well, it is that at every tipping point of natural disasters and catastrophes, the agile will prevail. And MaGIC aims to ease the effort of startups to rise and survive.”
Adapting to change
This led MaGIC to update GAP’s curriculum to focus on themes surrounding business resilience, agility and sustainability, with an emphasis on coaching and mentoring. Dzuleira says that this is to ensure startups are able to survive the current economic climate or any other crisis as they gear up for a SEA expansion.
“While learning from our own observations of the impact caused by the pandemic, we’ve refined GAP Cohort 4’s content to address the potential future challenges and risks, at the same time, leveraging existing and opportunistic trends,” she elaborates.
“We have extensively revised the GAP curriculum to virtually cater to the startups going through hardships impacted by COVID-19 and we focus on specific leanings such as being able to be more adaptive and sustainable during times of crises.”
The programme has been enhanced to not just focus on building internal business resilience, but also on how GAP can help participants build a network within the venture capital space, and better position themselves to secure seed funding or other forms of investor commitments.
“We believe it is not just about adding more capital into the market but putting focus and emphasis to ensure entrepreneurs truly get access to investments. This is currently a missing link within Malaysia’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and one we are actively working to help bridge,” she further explains.
GAP Cohort 4 participants will have access to the pre-recorded sessions 24/7, with trainers being “within a message away.”
The three-month programme will kick off with the first curriculum pillar of “Investments”, which centres on sustainability, growth, adaptability and recovery. The second pillar, “Business Acumen”, will delve into essential business elements of each startup. Pillar three will be on the “Communication” aspect of the curriculum, focusing on presentation and skills.
This all then culminates into a Demo Day set to run on 1 December 2020, where participants will pitch to regional investors. The pitch will be live-streamed across MaGIC’s social media platforms with various stakeholders.
This year’s programme will also see a new initiative: GAP Investment Partners, which consists of equity crowdfunding platforms, angel investors and venture capital firms.
“This new initiative allows our GAP Cohort 04 participants to explore funding opportunities with Investment Partners where the ticket size ranges between US$3,260 to US$724,183 (RM15,000 to RM3,000,000) per deal and to leverage on Investment Partners’ network for market access,” Dzuleira explains.
[RM1 = US$0.24]
On top of that, a total of 20 GAP Investment partners will have exclusive insights to 40 startups for potential investment throughout and after the programme. “Thus, creating opportunities to create an impact in developing high-quality startups across the world,” Dzuleira notes.
Beyond that, GAP Cohort 4 participants also gain access to over US$500,000 worth of benefits, including distinguished mentors and extensive corporate support from renowned partners such as Amazon Web Services, Macrokiosk, and Stripe.
Over a three-year period, MaGIC’s GAP has accelerated a total of 108 startups, raising RM116 million and generating close to RM222 million in total revenue.