Cyberjaya undergoing reboot

CyberjayaKUALA LUMPUR: The authorities are working to reboot Cyberjaya into a unique global tech hub.

Cyberjaya, according to Devex.com, has dropped its desire to be the next Silicon Valley.

It wants to be a testing ground for innovative ideas and a breeding ground for new ones.

Somewhere along the way to its vision of becoming Malaysia’s shiny technology capital, the Devex report said, Cyberjaya became, instead, one of the primary locations for the global shared services and outsourcing sector, ranked third only behind India and China.

But 20 years after its inception, the authorities have hatched a new strategy to launch the project from call centre tech park to innovative smart city, according to the report.

Mahadhir Aziz, head of the technology hub development division of Cyberview, which spearheads the development of Cyberjaya, told Devex that moving forward, the city wanted to attract more startups to create a vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises to flourish and drive the city’s economic growth.

To do it, the authorities will continue to offer tax breaks and subsidised office space, as well as entrepreneur training programmes and funding access assistance for new businesses.

Rolling out city-wide network technology designed for “internet of things” applications, which would enable devices to send and receive data, was another step towards this, Aziz said.

They have also introduced the concept of Living Labs, which presents the city as an innovation platform for developers and researchers to come and test or validate new Internet of Things technologies in Cyberjaya before launching elsewhere, according to the Devex report.

Aziz was quoted as saying: “Yes, some will say we have failed to reach that [original] vision, but again 20 years is not that long.” Aziz reminded that Silicon Valley took more than 40 years to become the world renowned tech hub it is today.

Cyberjaya sits on a sprawling 7,000 acres and has a population of nearly 100,000 people.

The authorities want Cyberjaya to grow to be a tech-enabled city boasting innovation with more than 500,000 residents.

There are currently more than 800 tech companies in Cyberjaya – of which 40 are global and regional multinationals – but the city has been slow to attract the permanent residents it seeks, according to the report.

Nearly one-quarter of its current population is made up of university students. Many residents, including the students, prefer to spend time in nearby Kuala Lumpur, which is a thriving cultural hub. This often gives Cyberjaya a ghost-like appearance.

The report said Setia Haruman, Cyberjaya’s master developer, was creating a new city centre that would see its first phase, valued at more than US$1 billion, completed in 2019.

The new central business district will sit on 140 acres in northeast Cyberjaya, starting with a hotel, a residential development and a shopping mall.

The planned mass rapid transit train from KL has also been taken into account in the design.

Also, in another 10 years, the authorities are confident the planned Singapore-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail – passing through Cyberjaya – would add to its attraction.

Siti Mariam Mohd Desa, head of corporate strategy at Setia Haruman, was quoted by Devex as saying: “How Cyberjaya was created is different than other cities. In others, it’s the residences that came first, but here it was the business community built first, then came the residential and retail.”

The buildings in the new development would be closer to each other, she told Devex, to allow developers to test out ideas from other smart cities, such as a car-free zone, and to encourage people to walk.