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[ossig] RM140m Mavcap boost for Open Source




By STEVEN PATRICK

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Venture Capital Management Bhd (Mavcap) would be
allocating RM70mil to RM140mil over the next two years to an Open Source
Software (OSS) initiative, according to its senior vice-president Nagib
Abdullah.

The objective of its "OSS-Platform Investment Programme" (OSS-PIP) is to
attract professionals to venture out on their own and form a cluster of
independent companies offering a comprehensive spectrum of software
capabilities to the market.

Nagib said OSS-PIP would invest in 40 local companies within the next two
years. "It's open to anyone who has got the technical skill. We don't want
marketers or MBA holders," he said.

He said the programme was created in view of a major shift in the software
industry.

While the OSS movement is not new, it has been increasingly making the
headlines over the past few years with private and public sector
organisations across the globe looking at it as an alternative to what
they perceive as more expensive proprietary software.

The movement gathered momentum in Malaysia over the last two years when
both technology industry body the Association of the Computer and
Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (Pikom) and professional body the
Malaysian National Computer Confederation (MNCC) formed OSS special
interest groups.

The Malaysian Government has also been giving the nod for more OSS
deployment in the public sector here. In August, Energy, Communications
and Multimedia Minister Datuk Amar Leo Moggie said that for Malaysia to
build better software, we need to better understand how it works.

"With proprietary software, some of this information is unavailable," he
said at the Free and Open Source Software Conference (Fosscon
<http://star-techcentral.com/tech/story.asp?file=/2003/8/4/technology/59
90920&sec=technology> ) 2003 in Kuala Lumpur.

OSS however, he noted, comes with all the information necessary to create
and enhance the software.

Moggie also said that the Malaysian Government has begun using, writing
and promoting OSS in a number of initiatives.

"Pilot studies are also being conducted to better understand the problems
and benefits of migrating to OSS," he said in his keynote speech at
Fosscon.

Mavcap's Nagib said that there is a large OSS talent pool in Malaysia.
"There are 2,000 open source proponents locally. We only need 200," he
said.

Beginning December, Mavcap will host workshops in Penang, Kuala Lumpur,
Kota Baru, Johor Baru, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

"We will then decide on which companies to invest in by February (next
year)," he said.

Nagib said that 20 companies have already approached him regarding
OSS-PIP. He would not give names but said that two of them were scheduled
to be soon listed on the Mesdaq counter of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange
(KLSE).

Security expert and OSS proponent Dinesh Nair, one of the six OSS-PIP
consultants, is upbeat about the programme.

He said that many OSS initiatives in other countries have focused on the
operating system. "We want to build the entire open source stack. We can
then say, 'Here's a solution developed by 20 Mavcap companies.' "

Dinesh added that OSS-PIP investments would not be wasted as the software
would "live on" in the OSS community -- the source code would be there for
others to continue development.

Meanwhile Nagib said Mavcap was trying to obtain 30,000 sq ft of land in
Kuala Lumpur to house a "cluster" for companies under the OSS-PIP.

He also said that there was a possibility of Mavcap taking a similar
"cluster approach" in areas such as broadband and gaming applications
development.



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