Super drone project is privately funded, says Aerodyne CEO


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 30 Nov 2019

Aerodyne CEO Kamarul Muhamed.

PETALING JAYA: The CEO of the company developing Malaysia’s first air mobility vehicle or “flying car” has welcomed an audit of his firm, saying not a single sen 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 said the investment was fully utilised for its 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 on drones in Malaysia, ” he said in a post on his Facebook page yesterday.

The posting followed a statement issued by the Entrepreneur Development Ministry on Thursday night to explain that the RM20mil allocated by Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) was not for the “flying car” (super drone) project developed by Aerodyne Group.

The ministry said the funding was to develop innovation and R&D for the new national car project, with DreamEDGE Sdn Bhd chosen as its anchor company and MIGHT leading it.

The ministry also explained that it had no allocation nor the authority to approve funding for investment in any drone project.

“This project is a private initiative and fully funded by local companies.

“The project does not involve any allocation from the government and as such, was not brought to the National Development Council or the Cabinet as it does require government approval, ” the ministry said.

The statement said that there was no need to conduct a financial and intellectual property audit on Aerodyne as it was not a government venture.

“The project does not involve any allocation from the ministry and the ministry will not suffer any losses if the project fails to take off.

“The ministry has been aware of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) findings and suggestions with regard to air mobility.

“The ministry is in the midst of preparing comprehensive feedback on the matter.

“The information provided by the ministry is based on what (information) the ministry has.

“Information on action by the other agencies will be reviewed by the ministry, ” the statement read.

In his post, Kamarul said Aerodyne closed US$30mil (RM125mil) worth of Series B funding, which included 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 renowned international venture capital firms 500 Startups and Gobi were among Aerodyne’s investors.

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

“Urban air mobility 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 over 330 people in 25 countries with very little help from the government.

He said Aerodyne had turned down an independently evaluated and approved RM2mil grant from Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) previously because it wanted the funds to be used by other entrepreneurs needing it.

Kamarul said MDEC, through the Gain programme, did play a big role in connecting the dots for the company’s global expansion.

He said that when the firm first connected with the ministry and other agencies earlier this year, it was about “giving back to the nation and helping to shape the future”.

“PAC never invited me for a talk. Never asked a single question of me. I have no interest 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’s request for additional comment on the issue.

The PAC, in its report on the super drone project tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday, said Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof had made a premature announcement on the project.

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