Sunway Innovation Labs (iLabs), a partnership between Sunway Group and Sunway University, joined hands with the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) Kuala Lumpur for the fifth consecutive year, and recently concluded the 2024 Green Transformation Accelerator (GXA) program.

The GXA program is a platform for startups and scaleups from Japan seeking to expand into Malaysia’s market. This year, the program was designed to foster innovation and solutions in the net-zero areas, including food security, renewable energy and energy efficiency, circular economy, and resilient cities, to drive green transformation.

Its objectives encompass providing Japanese tech companies with a stage to demonstrate their innovative solutions, facilitating the growth of Japanese tech companies in Malaysia and the broader ASEAN region, fostering collaboration between Japanese and Malaysian enterprises, and advancing the development of smart sustainable cities in Malaysia and the ASEAN region.

Five Japanese companies were selected for the two-month GXA program from a pool of applicants, showcasing the keen interest of Japanese firms in cross-border collaboration and sustainable innovation within Malaysia. The startups are:

● PEEL Lab: Transforms agricultural waste into plant-based leather, offering corporate and brand design and production services.
● InfoRich: Specialises in cross-border mobile battery sharing. It aims to elevate urban connectivity through its ChargeSpot network that provides battery rental services and advertising opportunities and forges strategic partnerships with micro-mobility solutions.
● Integri-Culture: Produces scalable and sustainable food protein through a low-cost, innovative, adaptable process, ensuring efficiency and environmental responsibility.
● Pt-Bio: Offers genomic solutions for advances in agriculture, food production, precision fermentation, environmental waste management, and carbon recycling.
● IDDK: Facilitating breakthroughs in biotechnology and medicine by offering affordable access to space experiments, leveraging microgravity for innovative research and development, especially for the life science industry.

“Through our collaboration with Sunway iLabs, we have fostered a path for Japanese startups to establish their presence in the Southeast Asian region through Malaysia. With the success of the previous cohort startups launching their business in Malaysia, we are highly looking forward to the progress the current batch will make through our program”, said Hiroyuki Nitta, Deputy Managing Director, JETRO Kuala Lumpur.

Throughout the two-month long GXA program, these startups were immersed in Malaysia’s vibrant ecosystem, leveraging the extensive networks and support of Sunway Group, JETRO Kuala Lumpur, and knowledge partners, such as the Malaysia Investment Development Authority (MIDA).

Mentorship and guidance were provided on various aspects, including the Malaysian market landscape, business needs, cultural differences between the two countries, Malaysia’s corporate transition towards net zero, and potential business and investment opportunities in Malaysia.

Matt van Leeuwen, Sunway Group chief innovation officer, as well as Sunway iLabs CEO and director said, “Over the one month, more than 50 business discussions have been established, focusing on forging strategic partnerships with between the Japanese companies and Malaysian corporates, investors and startups.”

“The GXA program not only facilitates valuable business connections but also allows university researchers to learn about the latest technologies from Japan, fostering meaningful research collaborations that drive innovation in sustainability within Malaysia and technology localization,” he added.

“It was an outstanding program that exceeded my expectations, offering numerous opportunities to engage with key stakeholders in Malaysia, including a diverse array of Malaysian corporations. Since arriving in Malaysia, I’ve been
pleasantly surprised by the dedication of Malaysian corporations to Green Transformation” said Hideaki Itami, Director of PtBio Inc., one of the Japanese companies that participated in the GXA program.

The collaboration between Sunway iLabs and JETRO Kuala Lumpur underscores their shared commitment to fostering cross-border innovation and driving sustainable development, further solidifying Malaysia’s position as a leading hub for innovation and sustainability in the region.

Expanding upon the foundation established during the two-month GXA program, the next phase aims to offer more tailored assistance to Japanese companies, further advancing their innovation journey in Malaysia. It involves conducting pilot trials, launching commercialization efforts, initiating research collaborations, securing
investments, and more. By leveraging each other’s expertise and networks, both parties aim for mutual success.

Sunway and UOB Malaysia ink partnership to advance net zero goal