Interview with MDEC Creative Multimedia Manager Hasnul Samsudin

By ANAND GURNANI | 22 June, 2009 - 15:21

"There are many ways in which we fund promising companies and projects in the Animation, VFX & Gaming space. The grants can range from RM 50,000 to RM 6 Million+ and we call them grants because the IP or Project that we fund belongs completely to the company that creates/ works on it and MDEC does not take any stake in return for its funding"

What is the MDEC?
The Multimedia Development Corporation was established in 1996 to catalyze the ICT industry in Malaysia. Amongst other things, it gives a special status known as MSC (Malaysia Status Company) to Malaysian companies that add value to the ICT sector, including BPO, E-Learning, Animation, VFX, Digital Game Development companies etc.

Once companies are accorded the MSC status the government then gives a 10-point bill of guarantee to these companies. These include :-

1. Provide a world-class physical and information infrastructure.

2. Allow unrestricted employment of local and foreign knowledge workers.

3. Ensure freedom of ownership by exempting companies with MSC Malaysia Status from local ownership requirements.

4. Give the freedom to source capital globally for MSC Malaysia infrastructure, and the right to borrow funds globally.

5. Provide competitive financial incentives, including no income tax for up to 10 years or an investment tax allowance, and no duties on import of multimedia equipment.

6. Become a regional leader in intellectual property protection and cyberlaws.

7. Ensure no Internet censorship.

8. Provide globally competitive telecommunications tariffs.

9. Tender key MSC Malaysia infrastructure contracts to leading companies willing to use the MSC Malaysia as their regional hub.

10. Provide an effective one-stop agency - the Multimedia Development Corporation.

Even 100% foreign owned companies can apply for this. What is important is the investments they bring into the country.

Since the beginning of this year, the MSC focus is on two areas, Creative Multimedia Content and SSO (shared-services outsourcing). We also provide a single point of contact to all MSC companies. About 2000 companies in Malaysia have been accorded the MSC status. Every year, we do a survey of companies that have an MSC status and how the status impacts them and how they impact the market.

We also have a program for smaller groups of individuals & entrepreneurs who cannot qualify for the MSC. It's called the technopreneuers program and we assist them in building their business plans.

Could you share about the various funds that MDEC grants to nurture companies and the ecosystem?
There are many ways in which we fund promising companies and projects in the Animation, VFX & Gaming space. The grants can range from RM 50,000 to RM 6 Million+ and we call them grants because the IP or Project that we fund belongs completely to the company that creates/ works on it and MDEC does not take any stake in return for its funding.

The smallest, yet one of the most interesting of these formats for selecting promising companies for grants is the IPCC or Intellectual Property Creators Challenge which is held twice every year since the past three years. We Award grants in 4 categories for the IPCC and these include Video Games, Animation, Digital Comics and Mobile Content. We encourage comics because they act as the fount of story telling and content.

The fund we provide is a developmental fund. The IPCC grant helps to create a Bible and a trailer and for games it helps at least create one working level, in the comics space it helps create a 40 page graphic novel and in the online and mobile space, the grant helps fund the creation of the entire application.

Next, we have pre seed grants which are up to RM 150,000. Companies from across the ICT sector can try and pitch to qualify for this fund. It helps develop ideas into an actual prototype. The pre seed grant is for entrepreneurs whose companies are not yet MSC status and the contract is with two entrepreneurs in each project. Up to 100 projects have received this grant since 2007.

Under the multimedia grants scheme, we have an R&D fund of up to RM 3 Million per project for technology focused projects.

Then we have an E-Content Grant under MOSTI of up to RM 1 Million, and this is specifically for content done in VFX, Animation, E-Learning, Games and Mobile content and if there is a co-pro or pre sale agreement in place, then the grant can be up to RM 6 Million.

Soon, we are also planning to introduce a Co-Production Fund. This fund will not be a grant, but will be a soft loan which will be interest free and to be repaid only if and after the project makes profits.

All the grants are provided in a phased manner upon completion of milestones. In the coproduction fund we will not only look at the completion of milestones but also at the quality of work done.

In what other ways do you support companies?
MDEC also provides active marketing support to the MSC & other budding Malaysian companies by organizing Malaysia Pavilions at leading International trade fairs including markets and events like MIPCOM where it has had a pavilion three years running and ATF, SIGGRAPH Asia etc.

MDEC funds 80% of the cost of the pavilion booth while the rest 20% is put in by the companies that register at the pavilion. We could fund the entire pavilion but by making the companies put in some of their money we ensure that they will make the best of the opportunity provided.

Before we leave for these events, we also put in place a telemarketing campaign for companies to fix meetings with their clients and as well to do cold calls and follow up.

Do you have international offices?
The MDEC has five offices across the world, these include ones in Jeddah, Beijing, Shanghai, Bangalore and one opening soon in Riydah. The MDEC team strength is more than 400 people.

When did you join the MDEC?
By background, I am an electrical engineer, studied in the US and after my university, I came back and joined MDEC. I was the 9th member on the team and this was 13 years ago in 1996. I was first focused on the e-commerce vertical, then IT Development and in 2003 I shifted to the Creative Multimedia Department. Currently I am managing the Technopreneurship and Enterprise Development division's Creative Multimedia Vertical and also head of MAC3 which is an MSC Animation and creative content center.

The reason I am doing this is because I have the passion, I want to see the Industry grow, I love animation films and stories and am a games freak as well. My team is split into three groups.

1) Knowledge & Competencies - which is charge of looking into the talent development programs for our talent pool and also professional development of individuals in our companies. This is the soft side of the MAC3

2) Facilities & Roll Out - is in charge of creating and operating affordable content-development infrastructure for developers and researchers, this includes a rendering farm for CGI. This is the physical side of the MAC3

3) Design & Benchmarking - handles the content development initiatives that touches schoolchildren to the idea-spurning IPCC program that encourages new IP development. This is also the soft side of MAC3

The MAC 3 business zone was inaugurated in May and the learning zone will inaugurate by mid of 2010. MAC 3 business zone is spread over 7000 square feet and has a 128-node rendering facility. It has a digital content and technology lab and we are also in the midst of putting an Industry Academia lab. We are also coming up with a community for gamers in association with ATI & AMD called MYCORE or Malaysian Cybergames Operations and Research where developers can talk to focused user groups.

Which projects were the winners at this year's IPCC?
The Winners are:
1. Roaring Tintoys - Project: Ghost Smashing Quarter (

2. Team Spooky Ace - Project: Asian Ghost Club ( and 3. Aerogramme Committee - Project: Aerogramme.

This time the media followed up with the Super Pitch winners, this helps kids realize there is a career and also helps make the parents aware. Astro Co Produced the content. The IPCC Superpitch which was produced with ASTRO had judges from Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Animax, ASTRO's CERIA, Disney and Al-Jazeera's Children's Channel.

How many companies are there in the Malaysian ecosystem? What does MDEC envision for the future?
There are 191 MSC Malaysia status companies in the areas of Animation, VFX, Games and Digital Content - where the highest revenues come from our post-production companies by virtue of the advertising industry needs regionally. The next area of growth is the Animation and Games area where MDeC will be focusing on for the next few years. The focus moving forward will be getting our companies the ability to produce world-class content and IP for the global market. The strengths in the area of the animation for Malaysian companies is the niche of producing high-quality 3d animation that is affordably priced. We have some gaps in the areas of storytelling in the visual form - but this will be overcome by both creating opportunities for Co-productions and also professional development programs.

What's your message to our readers?
We may talk but we also get things done. The MDEC is always about outcomes. We look at end goals and work backwards from right to left. This helps us eliminate as much surprises in implementation of our programs and initiative.

Additional Comments?
We acknowledge that for us to reach the global standards that the global market expects to be at - we must be able to collaborate with as many parties as possible. This is true for both internal and external parties that will bring each other value to the table. We are open to work with as many groups who want to strive for the same goal - which is to be able to provide the world with the best content for our viewers.

Therefore, we are happy to connect with anyone who wants to work with us and in Malaysia and tap on the creativity and drive of Malaysians who want to shine on the world stage.