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PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is enhancing its potential to produce more unicorns via 100 Soonicorns, a programme that aims to support the country’s aspiration to create five unicorns by 2025.

A unicorn is a privately owned startup company with a value of over US$1 billion (RM4.7 billion) while a soonicorn is a unicorn in the making.

The 100 Soonicorns ecosystem is designed to groom local startups with potential to become the next unicorns of Malaysia, following Carsome Group.

The programme was launched by ScaleUp Accelerator Sdn Bhd and Proficeo Consultants Sdn Bhd in a public-private partnership with Penjana Kapital Sdn Bhd and Malaysia Digital Economy Corp Sdn Bhd (MDEC).

Proficeo chief evangelist Dr Sivapalan Vivekarajah shared that the programme will act as a growth catalyst for high-potential late-stage startups which will spur economic growth of the country.

The programme will also provide access to local and global investors who are interested in investing in some of the best Malaysian companies.

“The programme will highlight these startups as Malaysia’s most promising companies, placing them in the spotlight of global investors,” Sivapalan said at the launch today.

ScaleUp Malaysia managing partner Andre Sequerah said the Malaysian entrepreneurship landscape – with more than 2,500 active startups – is vibrant and has enormous potential to build disruptive businesses that are resilient, sustainable and poised to be the country’s unicorns of tomorrow.

“The margin between success and failure is slim and without both guidance and peer support, startups either become stagnant or deteriorate over time. The programme will help bolster these startups as they make their way to the top,” he said.

Penjana Kapital CEO Taufiq Iskandar remarked: “We have always believed that developing an ecosystem requires more than just financial capital. 100 Soonicorns is an initiative that provides the right stimulus to help up-and-coming entrepreneurs maximise their potential.”

Meanwhile, MDEC CEO Mahadhir Aziz said it is committed to the national goal of creating five Unicorns by 2025 and the rollout of the Malaysia Digital (MD) initiative will catalyse this effort.

“MD seeks to increase overall ecosystem value, providing targeted assistance and resources that Soonicorns need, in their final push towards Unicorn status,” he said.

To be invited as participants, startups – typically technology-based – need to have raised at least US$1 million from a venture capital firm or institutional investor; or have generated US$2 million in revenue over the last 12 months.

With 16 startups’ chief executive officers (CEO) in each cohort, two cohorts of the 12-month programme will kick off simultaneously in the first quarter of 2023. By the end of 2023, it would have run six cohorts, supporting 100 CEO.

The first phase will see the team identifying the top 100 startups in Malaysia with the propensity to become unicorns.

The startups will then be nurtured via a founders-supporting-founders syllabus which includes structured problem-solving, capacity development sessions, networking and like-minded peer-to-peer support, in the second phase.

Finally, 20 startups out of the 100 will be selected to go on to receive tailored learning, mentoring, regulatory assistance and funding from investors, government agencies and other ecosystem players.

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