If Putrajaya has to become the financial and administrative capital, then its sister city, Cyberjaya, has to become the technological capital of Malaysia.
Originally set to become the Silicon Valley of Malaysia – which still can be seen on the street names, lately Cyberjaya is more heading its own direction, become the multimedia hub of Malaysia; a multimedia corridor.
Albeit, still being a ghost town instead of a vibrant town, similar to the critic on Putrajaya, there are already more than 800 companies settled in Cyberjaya. A variety of big multinational brands found its way to the city, such as Dell, HP, Schell, DHL, and Nippon Telephone.
However, it is often criticized that these companies settled down in Cyberjaya for its cheap office places and government incentives, rather than to aport really to the creation of a multimedia centre; and that because of their involvement, the housing prices rose.
Global Knowledge Hub
If you are willing to create a hub of the future regarding technology and multimedia, specific education is necessary as well to provide the work forces of tomorrow. Cyberjaya houses the Multimedia University (MMU) to bridge the gap of new jobs and old knowledge. Which seems a good thing to me, training local work forces in order to keep the local economy growing and the local people involved. However, Cyberjaya is actually critisized for the high share of foreign students and employers.
In the end, the combination of multimedia and technology companies and the university must turn Cyberjaya into the ICT city of the future, and out of there, Malaysia should become one of the leading ICT countries of the world.
From Silicon Valley to Tech Hub
The first part of the 2,800 hectares of mostly undeveloped land was converted into parts of the tech hub about 20 years ago, in 1997. To date, 71% of the land has been developed, or is still in planning or under construction, housing about 85,000 people, of which a quarter to one third (depending on the source) are students, and more than 800 companies.
However, the original plan was adapted in 2014 with the publication of the Global Tech Hub blueprint, acknowledging the challenges of creating an eastern Silicon Valley. Some of the core principles for the creation of a real tech hub are still lacking, such as strong linkage between research and business, or transfer of technology to local counterparts.
It is actually questionable if the ecosystem of such a hub actually can artificially be constructed by governments, instead of growing naturally out of the interactions between various players from research and knowledge centers and business and trade networks.
However, the changed vision might simulate innovation, since it includes the attraction of startups, where the seeds of innovation are planted. And the city is focusing more on smart city development, selling itself to companies as a perfect testbed for smart city technology.
To be or not to be
The question should not be whether Cyberjaya is about to become the next Silicon Valley, but if it will become the technological capital of Malaysia and if it will be the spring of the Multimedia Super Corridor which is envisioned.
Probably the same goes up as for Putrajaya, with a decent vision and governance, the city could have the potential to become what it envisioned. Moreover, the global growth of population and rapid urbanization could stimulate people and companies to find their way to the city, even bagging for the once empty streets to be empty for a second again.
Read more in Cyberjaya’s envisioned sustainable future in the next post.