Social Impacts and University Incubators Taking Centre Stage at the Malaysia Rice Bowl Startup Awards
TL;DR – Awards recognizing businesses with social impacts will creates motivation to change lives – MyCash Online won Best Social Impact Startup, ZYQ Engineering bagged Best Smart City Solution while UM based startup won Best Lifesciences / Medtech Startup.

The Malaysia Rice Bowl Startup Awards 2017 was an eclectic mix of people from the public and private sector in a relatively liberal setting of loud music and drinks. It was a night of celebration for the supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurship that we have in Malaysia. The Malaysian circuit winners will compete at the Grand Finale of the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards 2017 on the 12th and 13th December in Kuala Lumpur.

Catering for the less privileged members of the society, MyCash Online and ZYQ Engineering bagged awards for Best Social Impact Startup and Best Smart City Solution respectively. MyCashOnline provides an online marketplace for migrant workers without access to online banking and credit cards. ZYQ Engineering delivers housing plans and solutions to housing ownership at affordable rates to lower income families.

Another startup coming from Universiti Malaya and won the Best Lifesciences/Medtech Startup, UMCH Technology integrates hardware and data to empower people to take charge of their health at an affordable cost. In 2015, Flexilicate won the best University Startup of the Year with their novel products and services in the area photonics and optical fibre sensors.

While profit is definitely one of the main goals of running a business, getting services to parts of the societies who would otherwise be left out due to accessibility issues – be it financial or physical – is one step to moving the nation forward by closing the gaps between layers of society. In the competition to be the best it is easy to forget those who get left behind. So Kudos to entrepreneurs who strive to make social impacts and funding panels and mentors supporting such efforts.

University-based enterprises allows students to pick up skills that only hands on experience can teach. Without connections nor experience it would be difficult to break through the startup circle and get funding. University-based enterprises provides footholds to budding entrepreneurs to take their first steps into the startup industry and build their portfolios prior to graduation. Apart from priming them for their careers later on, university enterprises can also be a way to monetise student research projects that helps students with their finances and boost further research through commercialisation of the research product.

Malaysia has a positive environment and support for startups that can be leveraged to the greater good in the society. Awards recognising startups with social impacts and budding entrepreneurs creates greater interest and motivation in improving lives is definitely a step in the right direction. Congratulations once again to all the winners of the Malaysia Rice Bowl Startup Awards!

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