Tunku Abdul Rahman University College is keen to give anyone with a great business idea a chance to lift off with its TARC Incubator. It also hopes the initiative will enhance the entrepreneurial mindset among its students, reports MEK ZHIN.
THE new TARC Incubator by Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARC) promises to provide a holistic environment to anyone interested to turn their business ideas into reality, and looks set to kick-start the institution’s aspiration of becoming an entrepreneurial university college.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and TARC Education Foundation board of trustees member, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, who launched the incubator, says there’s plenty of room for growth in the SME sector and that such efforts will help the industry grow positively.
“The setting up of the TARC Incubator is timely to synergise innovation and entrepreneurship under one roof. This integrated business incubator is a step in the right direction to drive entrepreneurship and innovation in a holistic manner,” he says.
According to Wee, the 21st century world economy is very much driven by these two factors, especially with the advancement of science and technology which has revolutionised the way we live and work.
“Malaysian businesses, particularly SMEs, must continue reinventing themselves in order to carve a competitive edge in the globalised marketplace,” he stresses.
The business incubator, which joins the ranks of about a hundred others that have been set up in Malaysia, is housed within the university college’s East Campus in Setapak and is set to be a game-changer for TARC, according to its president Datuk Dr Tan Chik Heok.
“We have built an integrated business incubator that will bring together the funders, investors, mentors, government agencies and business support service providers under one roof to form an entrepreneurship ecosystem that will drive entrepreneurship among the students, staff as well as the public,” he says.
Tan adds that they have been actively nurturing and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship among the students, faculty and campus communities with the goal of supporting the industry and the nation’s economy.
“We have many research centres, centres of excellence, entrepreneurship courses, established partnerships with industries on product, technical or social development programmes, and we also encourage our students to participate in extra-curricular activities such as business plan and idea competitions, as well as technological innovation challenges, whether organised internally or by outside parties,” he adds.
Their encouragement has led to two teams of students and lecturers winning seed grants from a multinational corporation for their inventions.
He says that the TARC Incubator also aligns with the shifts in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015 — 2025 (Higher Education), which aims at developing holistic, entrepreneurial and balanced graduates.
TARC Incubator is divided into two areas: 1) the Start-up Academy for those who have yet to develop a solid business idea thus can undergo the necessary training for it, and 2) the incubator where budding entrepreneurs can further develop their ideas to become market-ready and investment-ready.
GDS Medianet and the Malaysia Peng Siong Teh Clan Association have contributed funding to the TARC Incubator project, as well as agreed to come on board as ecosystem partners, along with DOERS Education Group, Deloitte Tax Services, Securities Services, Kojadi, Akasaa and Cradle Fund.
TARC collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship vice-president and TARC Incubator implementation committee chairman Assoc Prof Say Sok Kwan says they welcome any entrepreneur who meet the set criteria to join the incubator.
“That being said, outsiders will have to pay a nominal fee to participate, but they will have access to our institution’s facilities including research labs. This also opens up opportunities and the possibility of collaborations with our students and faculty, further enhancing their experiences and skills,” she says.
According to Say, they particularly hope to encourage students embarking on their final year projects to consider taking their work further via the incubator.
“Before they embark on their final year projects, we will organise a talk to encourage them to think of the possibilities of building their projects, ideas and research into a potential business. We will have an internal competition close to their submission date, and from there, along with our partners, we will identify the projects that have the strongest potential and encourage them to join the TARC Incubator,” she states.
Say also reveals that their eventual aim is to set up the incubator as a centre on its own with the appropriate staff, and from there, it will begin to connect and potentially collaborate with the other incubator programmes in the country.
For more information, visit www.tarcincubator.com.