AI Sandbox to birth 900 startups by 2026

KUALA LUMPUR: The newly launched Artificial Intelligence (AI) Sandbox pilot programme is expected to create up to 900 AI startups and 13,000 new talents by 2026, says Chang Lih Kang.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said the strategic collaboration of the AI Sandbox pilot programme between his ministry, the Higher Education Ministry and Nvidia aims to transition Malaysia into a knowledge-based economy with AI driving innovation, productivity and competitiveness.

“The sandbox envisions facilitating the establishment of up to 900 AI startups by 2026 as well as fostering entrepreneurship and innovation within our nation.

“Through the collaboration, we also estimate that over 13,000 new AI talents will be cultivated by 2026, nurturing a skilled workforce equipped to tackle the challenges of the future,” he said during the launch of the programme at the Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (Mranti) Park in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

“This initiative potentially stimulates up to 10% economic growth through the creation of new industries, job opportunities and increased competitiveness in the global market,” Chang added.

The minister also said the collaboration between government ministries and Nvidia not only provides new economic opportunities but also fosters entrepreneurship, attracts foreign investments and creates high-value jobs in emerging AI-driven industries in the country.

“With the support of Nvidia, we will be able to boost efforts on AI training and capacity building, ensuring that Malaysia’s workforce remains competitive and adaptable in the rapidly evolving landscape of AI-driven industries,” he said.

Chang said Nvidia’s involvement offers a crucial platform for AI technology providers to test their solutions in real-world settings.

“This is part of a collaborative effort with the National Technology & Innovation Sandbox initiative, allowing seamless access to specialised labs.

“This setup will eliminate the logistical challenges of creating individual testing environments or obtaining necessary data, streamlining the AI solution testing process in a professional and encouraging setting,” he said.

Also present during the launch were Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, Nvidia vice-president Keith Strier and Mranti chief executive officer Datuk Dr Rais Hussin.

At a press conference later, Zambry said the government has a clear AI national policy and highlighted that ministries will be collaborating together for the purpose.

Zambry also said it is important to build a whole AI ecosystem to produce results.

“We are working closely together. The AI Faculty will soon be launched and will involve 20 public universities and 20 private universities.

“In total, 40 universities in Malaysia will be able to produce results in due course,” he said.

Under the pilot programme, participants will gain seamless access to specialised labs without the logistical burden of setting up individual environments.

Separately, Rais said the collaboration covers training for startups, innovation ecosystems, professors and educators via the Deep Learning Ambassador Programme and it provides Deep Learning Institute courses to Nvidia Inception Programme members.

“This holistic approach guarantees that a broad spectrum of stakeholders is aptly prepared to play a pivotal role in cultivating Malaysia’s AI-ready workforce,” he said.

The first AI Faculty at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia will be launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on May 10. It is expected to begin its academic programme in October this year.

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