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Innovation Hubs: Path to Stronger Economy Post-COVID

November 10, 2022
Syed Zulkifli Syed Ismail, Chief Business Officer
5 mins read

In recent years, the focus on innovation hubs has resurfaced as a critical factor in economic development. This is even more essential as countries work to rebuild their economies in the aftermath of the pandemic.

What is an innovation hub? The term can be used to describe various things, but generally, it refers to a zone where creative people and businesses can come together to share ideas and collaborate. Such places can benefit companies because they provide access to a large pool of talent and resources. They can also help to foster a culture of innovation, which is essential for economic growth.

There are several reasons why innovation hubs are becoming increasingly important:

  • With technology becoming more ubiquitous, it is easier for businesses to connect and share ideas.
  • There is a growing demand for innovative products and services.
  • Many cities are trying to become more urbanised and attract young talent, which often requires creating an environment conducive to creativity and innovation.

Relevance of Innovation

The pandemic has shaped the direction of innovation and is promoting the use of innovation hubs to their fullest capacity and potential. The technological innovation is altering the landscape and boosting access to available services and opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a heightened awareness of the need for innovation. As a result, businesses, governments, and individuals are all looking for new ways to address the challenges posed by the outbreak. This increased demand for innovation creates opportunities for hubs to showcase their capabilities and help businesses and individuals innovate in ways that will address the challenges posed by COVID-19.

A McKinsey 2020 report highlighted that the surge in global innovation is a positive consequence of an early investment in technology that provides superior performance even after the crisis subsides. Innovation has always been a critical driver of economic growth, but the pandemic has accelerated the pace of change.


In response to the crisis, businesses have rapidly adopted new technologies that enable them to continue operating while minimising exposure to the virus. For example, many office workers have switched to working from home, using video conferencing and other remote collaboration tools.

As a result, there has been a surge in demand for these technologies, which is likely to continue even after the pandemic subsides. This underscores the importance of investing in technology that provides superior performance. By doing so, businesses will be well-positioned to capitalise on the opportunities that arise from the accelerating pace of innovation.

Silver Lining

The COVID pandemic has been a major disruption to the global economy, but it is not all bad news. In fact, many new products and innovative ventures are expected to outlive the disruption and remain relevant post-COVID. For example, healthcare and e-commerce are two sectors that are expected to continue to flourish in the aftermath of the pandemic.

New products and services designed to meet the needs of a post-COVID world will likely find a ready market as consumers become more health-conscious and turn to online shopping to avoid contact with others. In addition, businesses that have quickly adapted to the new reality are also expected to thrive in the post-COVID economy.


On the other hand, those that have been slow to change are likely to struggle. The COVID pandemic has thus created both challenges and opportunities for businesses around the world. Those that can seize the latter will be well-positioned for success in the years to come.

Closer to Home

Malaysia saw the opportunity during the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic to innovate vaccine development resulting in a great partnership between AstraZeneca company and Sunway iLabs. Aside from the vaccines, the collaboration will focus on improving the healthcare sector. The Hub's objectives are to empower local start-ups and innovators to deliver new, sustainable solutions which will bolster the treatment of NCDs and support the patient experience, starting at the primary-care level.

Furthermore, this year, the country sets out to champion innovation through the RM295 million to RM432 million annual budget specified for research and development for public universities and industries. 

Innovation is key to staying competitive in today's global economy. Recognising this, the government has set aside a significant amount of money for research and development in public universities and industries. This will help to ensure that our country is at the forefront of technological advancement. 

In addition to promoting economic growth, this investment will also create new jobs and help improve citizens' quality of life. With the right policies, we are confident our country can emerge as a leading force in innovation.

Unsurprisingly, the adopted innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial economic impact on the nation's progress, which motivates Malaysia to fund a world-class innovation hub.

Pioneering Innovation Hub

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4th IR) is characterised by a fusion of technologies that blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. It is a transformation that fundamentally alters how we live, work, and relate to one another. The government is banking on MRANTI Park as the central innovative hub for the 4th IR to ensure that the nation is prepared for this paradigm shift.

In an effort to  be an important bridge for transition and a successful model for domestic and foreign cooperation, we have launched the MRANTI Park Master Plan, targeting a gross development value (GDV) of RM20 billion with returns from land leases valued at RM2.8 billion. 

The implementation of the Master Plan will adhere to design and development approaches such as long-term thinking and planning in order for MRANTI Park to be systematic and well-developed according to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It will introduce various measures in the near future as it aims to create 8,000 jobs. 

Located within the city, only 15km away from Bandar Malaysia, MRANTI Park offers substantial value to potential investors and innovators alike with its 4IR Innovation Hub. It is also one of the first innovation parks to be fully supported by 5G infrastructure.

Among others, the Park will utilise a compact cluster approach to harmonise various technology segments for environmental and social well-being in achieving its Environmental, Social and Governance targets.

Why is MRANTI Park the best innovation park in KL?

  1. Strategic location in the capital city
  2. Equipped with skilled young talents
  3. Consists of a research-intensive university
  4. Multiple programmes and interventions
  5. Tax incentives and supporting policies

MRANTI Park is a strategically built tech park situated in the heart of KL city– making it a highly sought-after address for businesses. There are many one-stop areas within reach of the park, and the city's bustling energy provides ample opportunities for businesses to thrive. The location also features modern amenities and a variety of unit types to suit the needs of any business. 

The innovation hub helps bring the country out of an economic slump and eliminates the increasing trend of the country's promising talents migrating to other countries, especially post-COVID. Therefore, MRANTI aims to build more programmes to attract researchers and innovators for more opportunities while simultaneously retaining young talents. 

At MRANTI Park, skilful young talents are highly sought after to prepare for innovation waves the world has yet to discover. Currently employing 345 individuals, 36% are degree or higher education holders, and 55% are under 40.

Another major initiative that MRANTI strives for is to utilise the infrastructure and facilities of the technology park efficiently. The connected and integrated structure is an attractive point, thus contributing to the conveniences of the 12km testbed for autonomous vehicles, Area 57 of the DroneTech Centre of Excellence, AgriTech Smart Farming, and more infrastructures. 

The park is 5G service equipped, which will need expert collaborations and partners to fully expand the value of the advanced technology in the ecosystems. The 5G industry is estimated to find a vital spot in the digital economy, and its early adoption by local companies can be capitalised on and developed for the nation to thrive. However, for the country to take advantage of this technology, collaborations and partnerships will be necessary to utilise and expand upon the capabilities of 5G properly. 

Local companies that adopt this technology early on will be able to carve out a niche in the 5G market and, by extension, help the nation to prosper. Thus, the park needs to develop these relationships to capitalise on the opportunity that 5G presents.

Also located in MRANTI Park is the Asia Pacific University for Innovation and Innovation Technology (APU). Established in 1993, this institute of higher learning ranks top as an Asian university and offers 86 courses while housing 13,000 students.

Further, the park continues to live up to its reputation as Kuala Lumpur's premier innovation park due to its programmes and interventions for the startups, researchers, and others, namely the International Innovation Hub, National Technology and Innovation Sandbox, Impact Innovation, Global Exchange Programmes and Healthtech Hub Project.

Endemic Ensues

As many activities are halfway stopped due to the stunted economic growth during the pandemic, that does not mean innovation hubs have lost their relevance in serving the people and industries. On the contrary, businesses can acquire long-term opportunities through innovation hubs and R&D as the endemic continues.

MRANTI Park, an innovation hub with its living lab solutions and infrastructure, is well suited as a prototype, facilitating R&D and innovation prospects. The research and innovation centres are an essential element, functioning as a new launchpad designed specifically for startups, tech giants, and ecosystem partners.