- Published: 17 September 2021
- Home to over 140k innovators/creators forming the innovative grid powering nation
- Masterplan created with eye to ensure 3 tech clusters able to synergise with each other
- Turning Cyberjaya into an ecosystem is critical, there is strength in proximity
- Anticipated to generate over US$60.36 bil to GDP, create more than 87,000 jobs
Cyberjaya is a Malaysian city that has certainly changed in the 24 years of its existence. On the surface, the city which is in the state of Selangor, has indeed grown more bustling and popular. Regular visitors may be able to point out the growing number of malls and eateries, and for the non-tech enthusiast, the city’s 24-hour bookstore and lovely parks are good reasons to drop in.
The most important changes, however, are less obvious to the eyes. Cyberjaya is now home to more than 140,000 innovators and creators, part of about 400 MSC-status entities – including multinational companies, government agencies and GLCs – all forming the innovative grid powering progress in the country.
Here is also where more than 400 successful startups have been nurtured, while serving as grounds for a robust talent pool created by the city’s seven universities and colleges.
Yet it is a city that has remained steadfastly unchanged in its goals and ideals. Cyberjaya was born with the goal of being the country’s nucleus of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) and the centre of innovation. Whether it succeeded or not depends on who you ask, but there’s no doubting its position as a technology hub of the country.
Now, 24 years since its inception, Cyberjaya is at the cusp of massive change. Last year, Cyberview Sdn Bhd – the company mandated by the government to catalyse Cyberjaya’s development – unveiled the city’s new masterplan, a next phase of growth to turn the city into a holistic tech ecosystem.
The Cyberjaya Masterplan
Southern Cyberjaya has been dedicated as the foreground of the new masterplan, with the anchorage of three carefully selected technology clusters: Smart Mobility, Smart Healthcare, and Digital Creative. Plans are set for this part of the city to house an integrated smart healthcare development, envisioned to be an intertwining web of various healthcare facilities and businesses that can work together. For instance, CryoCord, a leading stem cell banking facility in Malaysia has been based in Cyberjaya for the past 18 years and could potentially become a significant catalyst in the healthcare segment under the Cyberjaya masterplan.
Talks are also underway between Cyberview and industry players as well as enablers, to further ignite the growth of advanced technology in the area of mobility. These parties include names like Aerodyne and Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).
Cyberjaya’s new masterplan set to weave, interlock its disparate partsCyberjaya has been famed with an established community of digital content creators, many of which are graduates of Multimedia University (MMU). This institution has been recognised to nurture and produce many talents within this space, leading to the formation of homegrown brand names like WAU Animation, whose movie Ejen Ali: The Movie topped as #1 in the local box office in 2019. Joining them in this sphere are Monsta and Digital Durian, who are making waves globally too.
“We foresee collaboration and assistance offered to this industry to be further enhanced under the masterplan. Not only that, their products and innovations could potentially be utilised in the areas of mobility and healthcare. When the masterplan was developed, we also made sure that the three tech clusters will be able to synergise with one another in the Cyberjaya ecosystem,” explains Roni Shah Mustapha, Head of Business, City and Communications Division at Cyberview.
A Collaborative Environment
“The Collaboration Campus is an existing designated area in the south zone which will become the initial iteration of this innovation district, featuring all three tech clusters (Smart Mobility, Smart Healthcare, and Digital Creative) in a single location. With various ecosystem components all in the same area, collaborative and complementary activities will be spurred among each other,” explains Roni.
The Collaboration Campus is also Cyberview’s home base, neighboured by its subsidiary, Futurise that oversees the National Regulatory Sandbox (NRS). The campus offers physical space for companies to test their innovations and under the NRS, regulatory processes are fast-tracked. This is evident through the implementation of the Drone Testing Zone (DTZ) and the country’s first public road testbed for autonomous vehicles, the Cyberjaya Malaysia Autonomous Vehicle (MyAV) Testing Route – all located within the campus.
Another important component is the 5G Open Lab located at RekaScape. Cyberview had partnered with Digi for the launch of this lab in 2019, which ever since, has been instrumental for innovators and academics in testing out their solutions and products using 5G network. Usage of the 5G network is becoming increasingly relevant, especially with the government’s announcement of its rollout by year end in specified locations, which includes Cyberjaya.
“The Collaboration Campus is positioned to be a catalyst in attracting other companies and innovators from the three tech clusters, ahead of the operationalisation of the South Innovation District. In fact, we are already garnering interest from various parties to join the ecosystem,” adds Roni.
The south zone will be supported by the northern and western districts. In the north, the Cyberjaya City Centre (CCC) development is designed to be the focal point of the city, as a global urban-tech landmark for Cyberjaya.
“Land surrounding the CCC will inevitably encourage healthy commercial, retail and enterprise activities. This will be boosted with the completion of an MRT station nearby. Currently, the area is primed to be a transit-oriented development, with multiple major projects to be executed in the locality,” says Roni.
West Cyberjaya will focus on nurturing talent and community development; and Downtown Cyberjaya, the retail and commercial hub for the city. The idea is for each zone and industry to become part of a contained ecosystem. Talent from West Cyberjaya, for instance, can move into working with the entities within the city. Products from South Cyberjaya can be implemented across Downtown Cyberjaya, which serves as a zone for pilot projects.
“Getting the right infrastructure available is vital,” says Roni. “For instance, 90% of the country’s co-located data centres are located in Cyberjaya – not only due to the fact that we are a tech hub that supports digitalisation, but also due to its complete infrastructure such as the provision of dark fibre and the redundancy in terms of power supply.”
He emphasises, “This is coupled with an added advantage possessed by Cyberview. The company’s role as the custodian for the development of Cyberjaya and its close relations with the government has allowed more room and access for progress to take place.”
The new masterplan for Cyberjaya rolled out by Cyberview, serves ultimately, to solve one of the main issues of current-day Cyberjaya – entities working in silos. This is one of the primary challenges of the city now, according to John Low, co-managing partner of Southeast Asia for Roland Berger, and why the global consultancy was engaged to draw up and validate a new masterplan that will be built across Cyberjaya.
“Although people here are in proximity to one another, but they’re still operating in a silo manner,” Low tells Digital News Asia. A hub envisioned in the masterplan would allow for entities to better communicate and collaborate, thus fostering more innovation.
Cyberjaya has other gaps to fill, Low notes. Retail and entertainment support is one aspect. While there is certainly more to see and do in Cyberjaya these days, it’s still not as attractive a hangout spot as, say, Bangsar or Bukit Bintang.
“In this new plan, we want to put everything under a hub, under one roof,” says Low. This means also strengthening the retail and entertainment support, as well as improving the livability of the city.
“A smart city is not just about what’s outside the home. It starts from within homes,” he adds. “It’s not just the infrastructure – being more livable means I can do things more conveniently from home – I can be easily connected to the things around me.”
This is particularly vital in the post-Covid new normal, where questions of how one can live, work and play within a city are more crucial than ever.
Strength in proximity
Turning Cyberjaya into an ecosystem is important, because there is strength in proximity. “You exchange ideas and become more innovative when you share your thoughts with other people. You gain knowledge when you communicate. You’re able to improve R&D when things are shared, brainstormed and discussed,” notes Low.
“If you work standalone in a siloed manner, there is only so much creativity that you can get. That is the foundation we want to build in the next plan. It’s about leveraging the strengths that Cyberjaya has.
And Cyberjaya does have its strengths. For example, the large number of learning institutions there is a plus point. Not only is Cyberjaya home to large, well-known institutions like Multimedia University (MMU) and Lim Kok Wing University, companies and organisations both local and international house their training institutions in the city too.
At the same time, there are a lot of supporting government agencies residing in Cyberjaya, including the likes of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation and the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre.
The new masterplan is all about bringing these strengths together. It helps that Cyberjaya is already well-designed to begin with. “The existing plan is already quite good – Cyberjaya is fairly well planned from the beginning, unlike cities that were developed over the years,” Low says.
Much of the planned four districts in the masterplan are already present – the bigger undertaking, then, is the development of the Southern side of Cyberjaya, across approximately 400 acres. But the well-designed aspect of Cyberjaya meant that Roland Berger didn’t need to uproot pre-existing infrastructure and tenants, just enhance them. “I would say that there are very little constraints for us.”
The new Cyberjaya masterplan has a long way more to go. It’s not just buildings and spaces that need constructing, but communities that need building. Yet the work to improve the city can already be done.
Low says that incentives to attract more startups and corporations, which is part of the masterplan, can already be executed.
At the same time, some pilot living lab projects can start as well. In short, the development of approximately 400 acres in South Cyberjaya, so to speak, doesn’t need to be completed before moving more people into the city. The community can be built first.
And it’s a community that needs building now. The masterplan, after all, fits into the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDigital). According to Low, the masterplan intends to drive development of the country’s Digital Creative industry into a world-class community – something that is a focus in MyDigital.
But it’s not just that. The new masterplan’s aim is to build upon the aspects that are already being developed in the city – the plan, then, is to continue specialisation in sub-areas such as big data analytics, mobile internet, artificial intelligence, robotics, system integration and Internet of Things.
Low believes that the new masterplan is “very instrumental” in supporting digitisation in Malaysia. “You’re talking about Malaysians having the ability to get into a lot of new, developing tech. Then there is the job creation opportunities. You can see from the scale of what we’re trying to do, that ultimately, the (masterplan’s) contribution to the economy is going to be significant.”
Meanwhile, Roni Shah Mustapha, Head of Business, City and Communications Division at Cyberview Sdn Bhd adds that the masterplan holds a significant milestone not just for Cyberjaya, but to the nation as well. “Not only will it become key to attractingCyberjaya’s new masterplan set to weave, interlock its disparate parts – Part 2 more than 1,200 companies into the city by 2045, but this masterplan is anticipated to generate more than US$60.36 billion (RM250 billion) to the country’s GDP and create more than 87,000 jobs within the same timeframe.”
Low stresses that there isn’t anything of this scale of tech-focused development in Malaysia. “This is a game-changer for Malaysia when it comes to digital development – in having a new digital hub. Nothing of this is even anywhere that is going to be built in ASEAN. It’s going to be of global significance for sure.”
Whether or not the new Cyberjaya will become a true regional tech hub remains to be seen, but the new masterplan is the running start to what is set to be a huge leap. Change, as they say, is inevitable. Cyberjaya feels like it is changing for the better.