Malaysia and Sweden have come together to introduce the Digital Health Innovation Challenge. Launched 15 January 2021, the Innovation Challenge invites startups registered in Malaysia to identify solutions in solving healthcare challenges, especially related to non-communicable diseases (NCD).
The initiative is a collaboration between Team Sweden, comprising of the Embassy of Sweden, Business Sweden and AstraZeneca; and Malaysian partners Sunway iLabs, Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
The Innovation Challenge is aimed towards identifying solutions that can empower NCD patients and high-risk communities to proactively reduce the risk factors of these diseases by encouraging healthy living and increase accessibility, on top of introducing digital tools enabling self-care and monitoring.
Startups that are selected to participate will get access to incubation programmes, global innovation networks, mentorship and funding, as well as an opportunity to collaborate with the above partners to solve healthcare challenges in Malaysia.
“The Digital Health Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity for startups to explore solutions from multiple angles and to work with partners to exchange knowledge and scale-up across borders,” says Swedish Trade Commissioner to Malaysia Sara Hedin.
Adding to this, AstraZeneca Malaysia’s country president Dr Sanjeev Panchal says: “At AstraZeneca, empowering patients with innovative digital health care solutions and technologies is close to our hearts as we put patients at the centre of everything we do. We believe that digital health is a means of making our health systems even more patient-centric.
“For this reason, we engage in various partnerships to deliver next-generation health solutions. The Digital Health Innovation Challenge will certainly galvanise digital startups to develop new technologies and health care solutions that would meaningfully support our health system development and public health.”
Sunway Bhd chief innovation officer and Sunway Innovation Labs director Matt Van Leeuwen says that it is important that the public and private sectors come together to solve societal problems.
“I believe that this initiative is a great example on how we can accelerate market-driven healthcare innovations from talented entrepreneurs by leveraging corporate testbeds and international networks,” he notes.
MaGIC CEO Dzuleira Abu Bakar agrees. “We need collective participation and engagement from the government – by its policy and mobilisation of resources; the private sector, which carries with it a wealth of expertise and scale to make a difference; and finally, the startups that are built to create impact and resolve these challenges through technology and innovation,” she says.
“Startups should take the opportunity to showcase their advantageous capabilities which are agile by design, and pivot during crucial times,” she urges.
For MDEC, healthtech is one of the key areas that the agency is looking to grow within their tech ecosystem. CEO Surina Shukri says that this challenge plays “a crucial role” in highlighting the capabilities of Malaysian healthtech startups.
“It also empowers them to create technological impact within the health industry that the pandemic is accelerating. By supporting programs like the Digital Health Innovation Challenge, MDEC will further ramp up the development and improvement of Malaysia's healthtech ecosystem as part of the ongoing efforts to realise the vision of Malaysia 5.0 and establish Malaysia as the heart of digital ASEAN,” she concludes.
Applications for the Digital Health Innovation Challenge will be open from 15 January 2021 to 15 February 2021. Applicants must register with the Digital health Innovation Challenge Application Form and submit their proposal in accordance to the terms and conditions specified.