One of the world’s most exciting tech startup ecosystems right now is Southeast Asia. Despite the pandemic, the region’s vibrant landscape drew investments of US$8.2 billion in 2020. Global tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have already taken note of Southeast Asia’s potential. And it’s not just investment from existing tech giants that make Southeast Asia such a hotspot for tech startups. Different startups are making headlines for mergers and acquisitions left and right.

This growth can primarily be attributed to the acceleration of digital adoption, much of it driven by the pandemic. In fact, there were 40 million new internet users in 2020. Furthermore, the region boasts a large pool of talented, ambitious youths. More than one in three youths from Indonesia, for instance, aspire to be entrepreneurs in the future.

Even though it is still a nascent market — about one in three internet users tried new digital services last year because of the pandemic — Southeast Asia’s tech ecosystem is maturing at a rapid rate. The sectors of e-commerce, online media, travel and transport, agritech, financial services, healthtech, and edtech are predicted to hit a gross merchandise volume of more than US$300 billion by 2025. This is not surprising, with the region’s startups quickly making headway and 70 per cent of the population now online.

Malaysia is a great launchpad for startups that want to establish a presence in Southeast Asia.

Located in the heart of Southeast Asia, the country is already home to several established and growing startups. According to the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020, Malaysia is the 11th emerging startup destination in the world. Aside from the capital of Kuala Lumpur, other cities like Penang and Selangor also offer low costs of living and a deep pool of talent.

Malaysia is also culturally diverse, which provides global startups with a glimpse into the rest of Southeast Asia. For example, though the official language is Malay, it isn’t uncommon to find that almost everyone is proficient in English. Located next to tech hubs like Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore, Malaysia is a great place for startups looking to collaborate across borders and enter the Southeast Asian market.

Albert Alexander, Founder and CEO of Glueck Technologies, explained that “Malaysia has the right ingredients for global startups in terms of infrastructure and vibrant ecosystem being a cost-efficient destination with easy access to the ASEAN growing market.” Glueck Technologies is a tech startup that develops next-generation solutions that transform Human Computer Interaction with effective use of Computer Vision, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning,  and Deep Learning to build customer-centric solutions.

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The Malaysia-based company develops AI technology solutions that help detect patterns in vast volumes of data and also interpret their meaning. Their machine-learning applications are being used for a plethora of things, including predicting what a particular customer is likely to buy, repeat customers and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration for cross-selling and customer retention strategies, identifying credit fraud in real-time and detecting insurance claims fraud, analysing warranty data to identify safety or quality problems in automobiles and other manufactured products in factory automation and office automation (OA) used cases, and automating personalised targeting of digital out-of-home advertisements and derive ROI on ad spend, among others.

“It is useful for companies to look at AI through the lens of business capabilities rather than technologies. Broadly speaking, AI can support three important business needs: automating business processes, gaining insight through data analysis, and engaging with customers and employees,” shared Alexander.

He added, “We have developed products on a generic scale and also customised for a psychology lab for research and teaching and also a tech exhibition centre for people including school children to experience AI technologies in real-life applications in Malaysia.”

How Glueck is transforming industries its next-generation solutions

What makes Glueck unique in the market is their dedication to creating solutions designed to address customer-centric problems in a cost-effective way. They also provide a slew of choices of cloud or edge processing and user-friendly dashboards that can be customised for clients.

Among their roster of products and services are the Pandemic Tracker, Smart Media, Smart City, Retail Analytics, Security Systems, and Big Data Analytics — all of which seek to address different forms of human problems.

One of the company’s key milestones in its partnership with Taylor’s University with the support of HPE and NVIDIA. Together with Taylor’s University Centre for Human Excellence and Development (CHED), Glueck created a socio-behavioural laboratory equipped with AI—the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. The lab comes with 13 face-tracking cameras, a virtual reality interface, brain scanners, and emotion recognition software.

The goal of the project is simple: to identify micro facial expressions that can lead to a life-changing diagnosis for a person with mental health problems. To capture and process these tiny expressions, Taylor’s University turned to AI to observe and interpret the emotions of people with mental illness and special needs. Using emotion recognition software and machine learning, the university’s research is changing the way mental health is diagnosed and treated.

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A recent report by the non-profit Relate Mental Health Malaysia shows suicide as a leading cause of death among Malaysians aged 15 to 29. With this very relevant issue at hand and the many necessary measures that both public and private sectors must take, this partnership between the two institutions is poised to help young Malaysians everywhere.

The project uses emotion recognition software infused with deep learning technology to mimic the brain’s ability to recognise objects and movements. CHED and Glueck have designed the software specifically to perceive different facial expressions of people from diverse countries and ethnic backgrounds so it can help address early signs of depression before any real harm has been caused.

This is only one of the many solutions and partnerships involving Glueck Technologies that has made a significant material impact on the lives of people.

Accelerating Glueck’s expansion

Glueck, which serves as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to HPE, DELL, Gigabyte, TECHDATA, and NVIDIA, has accomplished quite a number of recognitions across the global tech sector. They previously won as best Media tech from Cradle Malaysia which funded their seed money. The company also won Best Deep Tech/AI company in Malaysia and ASEAN, ultimately representing Malaysia in this category in China.

To date, the company has worked with clients in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, India, and Japan.  Glueck Technologies hopes to continue building a strong market presence in ASEAN as it has a young growing population and a dynamic emerging market.

With Glueck’s determination, it was clear that the company was going to soar to greater heights. In its early days, Glueck was among the recipients of the Cradle Fund, an early-stage startup influencer incorporated under the Ministry of Finance Malaysia (MOF), which helped jumpstart the company and provided it with momentum to continue flourishing. Through MDEC, Glueck was able to establish its presence in the regional tech ecosystem by participating in relevant events and being exposed to overseas conferences.

Also read: How Thailand’s Ricult uses deep tech to improve the lives of smallholder farmers

The company also participated in the NEXEA Entrepreneurs Programme last year. This programme provided a platform for tech entrepreneurs to learn together and meet with potential mentors and investors, allowing Glueck to expand their professional network and tap on new business opportunities.

Helping give Glueck and other Malaysian tech startups the visibility they deserve is the Malaysia Global Innovation & Creativity Centre, or MaGIC. Headquartered in Cyberjaya, MaGIC is an innovation and creativity centre under the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation. It aims to support startups and develop a strong, vibrant tech ecosystem in Malaysia.

MaGIC offers several programmes for startups looking to enter the Southeast Asian market. One such initiative is the Global Accelerator Programme, which helps propel global startups to investment-ready status within four months. Through initiatives like this, many Malaysian startups stand a chance to pursue growth and expansion goals in unparalleled ways. MaGIC also periodically opens applications to MyStartup Hub (MSH), a soft-landing program for innovative global startups from all over the world to establish a business hub in Malaysia. Collaborating with Malaysian ministries and agencies, MyStartup Hub provides assistance in company incorporation, local talent acquisition, and Malaysia’s market access.

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