9 January 2024, George Town – Today marks a significant milestone for Penang’s technology startup ecosystem as it receives the “Outstanding Ecosystem among Medium-Sized Population Cities in Southeast Asia 2023” award from StartupBlink, a leading startup ecosystem map and research center based in Zürich, Switzerland. “As the 2nd highest-ranked city in Malaysia and 8th in Southeast Asia, George Town exemplifies excellence and innovation. Additionally, it leads among Southeast Asian cities within its population tier, solidifying its position as a vibrant hub for entrepreneurs.” says Eli David, CEO at StartupBlink. Mr. Mahmod Shamsi, the Head of Business Development at StartupBlink, highlighted an increased momentum of startup activities within Penang, notably in 2023, that underscores forward-thinking initiatives supporting startups during the early stages of business development. This has also been reflected in the upward trend of Penang’s global ranking by 12 positions and is currently ranked 8th in the region.
“This award serves as a testament to the Penang State Government’s commitment to nurture a vibrant startup ecosystem as a key driver of sustained economic growth. As our startups develop new technologies and solutions to address contemporary challenges, we seek to foster a state that attracts investment and promotes the expansion of high-tech industries in Penang,” stated YB Zairil Khir Johari, the Penang State EXCO for Infrastructure, Transport and Digital.
Penang has set an ambitious goal of fostering 500 technology startups by 2030. As of 2023, the state has successfully cultivated 150 startups, spanning diverse technology verticals including e-commerce, hardtech, deeptech, edtech, agritech and fintech. To fortify the resilience and sustainability of Penang startups, Digital Penang has launched market development and access programs in collaboration with strategic partners in Indonesia.
Qualified startups also received support through market access grants and participation in various investor engagement activities conducted throughout 2023. The establishment of the Penang Chapter of Malaysian Business Angels Network enhanced opportunities for early-stage startups to connect with angel investors. Noteworthy initiatives such as the Penang Digital Creative Week and Digital Penang Hardtech Accelerator programs in 2023 contributed to the cultivation of a differentiated ecosystem within the state. These programs provided substantial support to technology entrepreneurs operating in the creative tech, hardtech and deeptech sectors.
In his acceptance speech for the award, Ts. Ng Kwang Ming, the CEO of Digital Penang, emphasised the significance of partnerships in contributing to the vibrant technology startup ecosystem. He extended his gratitude to their partners, which included mentors, investors and government agencies, for elevating Penang and Malaysia on the global stage.
Concluding his remarks, Ts. Ng Kwang Ming, on behalf of Digital Penang, expressed the organisation’s anticipation for further collaborations and shared milestone in the state throughout 2024 and beyond. The organisation also welcomes aspiring startup founders and technology entrepreneurs n Penang to apply and participate in their 2024 programmes.