The panel of judges at the 1st Pitch and elimination round of the SwissInnovation Challenge Asia 2017 held in Kuala Lumpur headed by Stefan Philippi (centre), lecturer at the School of Business, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland.

Is your business idea innovative enough to grant you a chance at penetrating the international market?

A total of 100 participants comprising new businesses, non-profit organisations and individuals from all around Malaysia came to find out just that at the 1st Pitch and elimination round of the Swiss Innovation Challenge Asia 2017 (SIC Asia) held at the Kuala Lumpur campus of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) recently.

An international level and an exciting avenue for Swiss-Malaysian networking via a collaboration between the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) and UTM International Business School, the programme seeks to champion competitive strategies that would work at an international level whereby those with potential innovative ideas and novel creations will be selected to be groomed to become global entrepreneurs.

According to SIC Asia project director Dr Rahayu Tasnim, SIC Asia takes a holistic approach in realising innovative business ideas.

“Participants were carefully guided by selected coaches from UTM’s International Business School, as well as individuals and businessmen from the industry, via personalised business consulting sessions. A few of the coaches and jury members came from Switzerland to provide professional mentoring and evaluations of participants’ progress,” she said.

The Swiss Innovation Challenge which has been conducted in Switzerland for the last two years, has been extended to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

For Malaysia, from the 100 in Phase One, 50 has been selected to proceed to Phase Two in June where the focus would be on writing a business plan which would be presented to a jury in five minutes. A total of 25 will be shortlisted for the Final Pitch in September which will highlight their respective business implementation plan.

Participants who reach the final phase have the opportunity to win prize money amounting to US$23,000 (RM101,400) in each country. The cash award for the 1st prize is US$15,000 (RM66,100), for the 2nd and 3rd prize it is US$5000 (RM22,000) and US$3,000 (RM13,200), respectively. A special prize for “internationalisation” worth US$5,000 will be awarded to the one project across Asia with the most convincing internationalisation strategy. The winner of each country will be participating in a business pitch in Basel, Switzerland.

However, SIC Asia is not just about the business pitch competition.

Swiss-Malaysian Business Association members, industry players, the academia, students, researchers, NGOs, and representatives of government are expected to take part in the Swiss-Malaysian Industry-Academia Forum. The event will be graced by the Switzerland Ambassador to Malaysia the Minister of Higher Education and the Minister of International Trade and Industry.

Rahayu said IBS is currently seeking collaborators and sponsorships for this international corporate social responsiblility project.

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