Aerodyne CEO welcomes audit, says public money not used for air mobility vehicle project

  • Nation
  • Friday, 29 Nov 2019

A file picture of Aerodyne CEO Kamarul Muhamed in February 2016 with some of the drones his company is developing.

PETALING JAYA: The CEO of the company developing Malaysia's first air mobility vehicle, or the "flying car", welcomes an audit of his firm, saying that not a single cent of public money was or will be used for the purpose.

Aerodyne CEO Kamarul Muhamed said the company did receive RM20mil from Malaysian VentureTech but that investment was 100% for their drone business expansion.

"We have never approached the Entrepreneurial Development Ministry for any assistance other than for the purpose of working on the framework and regulations of drones in Malaysia," he said in a public post on his Facebook page on Friday (Nov 29).

Aerodyne is a global player in the drone services industry.

He said they closed US$30mil (RM125mil) worth of Series B funding, including the RM20mil from Malaysian VentureTech.

He said the other investors were from Indonesia, South Korea, China and Japan.

A check on business information platform Crunchbase showed that Gobi Partners and 500 Startups were among their investors.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), in a report on the super drone project tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday (Nov 28), said that Entrepreneurial Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof had made a premature announcement on the project.

The report said PAC also found that Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), through VentureTech, had approved an investment in Aerodyne to the tune of RM20mil that was channelled on Nov 1.

The PAC also called for the Auditor-General's Department to do an audit of the RM20mil investment.

Kamarul said that the development of the air mobility vehicle was put on hold since August as they were growing extremely rapidly around the world in their core drone-based business and 100% focus was put on this expansion.

"Urban air mobility (UAM) is a long-term journey and will not be mainstream until at least 2025. No reason for Aerodyne to focus on this now," he said, adding that the company had grown to more than 330 people in 25 countries around the world with very little help from the Government.

He said the company had refused a properly and independently evaluated and approved RM2mil grant from Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) previously because they didn't need the help and that the funds could be used by other entrepreneurs that may have needed it.

He said that MDEC, through the Gain programme, did play a big role in connecting the dots for their global expansion.

He said that when they first talked to the ministry and other agencies earlier this year, it was about giving back to the nation and helping to shape the future of the nation.

"PAC never invited me for a talk. Never asked a single question of me. I have no interests in Politics. The truth that many already know anyway will come out for others to see," he said.

Kamarul did not respond to The Star Online for additional comments on the matter.

The ministry said that the RM20mil allocated by the MIGHT was not for the project developed by Aerodyne but that the funding was to develop innovation, research and development of the new national car project (NNCP), with DreamEDGE Sdn Bhd chosen as its anchor company and MIGHT leading it.

The ministry also said that it has no allocation or authority to approve funding for investment in any drone projects.

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