Brisbane-based start-up KERB helps car drivers solve a source of major urban stress: how to find a parking spot.
The KERB app also enables the owners of car-parking spaces to lease them out to individuals and corporate entities. And it enables drivers to locate available parking spaces in real time.
KERB is a growing commercial success in Asia and Europe. It is in use in Sydney, London, Dublin, Manila and Singapore, and is about to launch across North America.
Participation in Austrade mission to Southeast Asia triggers Malaysia trials
In March 2019, Austrade co-ordinated a series of events in Jakarta, Malaysia and Bangkok, called the Smart and Sustainable Cities – ASEAN Mission.
Australian companies with solutions to urban challenges joined the mission, including KERB.
In Kuala Lumpur, Austrade introduced KERB to local stakeholders, including property developers, other key corporates and government agencies.
These introductions proved a breakthrough for KERB in Malaysia. Following the mission, KERB negotiated a trial program of 50 spaces with the Sunway Group’s Sunway Tower in Kuala Lumpur.
The firm ventured into other commercial and residential properties following the trial. The KERB app is now helping over 2,000 vehicles to secure a parking space in Kuala Lumpur every day of the week.
Major growth predicted
KERB envisages a five-fold growth in vehicle uptake as the company expands in 2021. Chief Executive, Rob Brown credits Austrade for helping KERB to launch in Malaysia.
“Austrade was key to opening up Malaysia for KERB,” he says. “The Smart Cities Mission opened several important doors with major property and developer groups – and with potential investors.
“The briefings and insights provided by the Austrade team and their contacts really helped us understand the local transport environment, as well as how city data is used to develop planning initiatives … (It) … gave us a real edge in the Malaysian market.”
“Kuala Lumpur was a major landmark on our journey to opening up the world. It was where we were able to devise a solution to a significant problem that had been hindering our growth: how to securely let any vehicle into any car park, via the driver’s phone.”
In the running for a global award
KERB participated in a 2020 global challenge launched by the Toyota Mobility Foundation and co-developed by the Deloitte Future of Mobility Solution Centre, theCity Architecture for Tomorrow Challenge (CATCH) hosted in Kuala Lumpur.
Collaboration between the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Austrade led to a briefing by CATCH organisers. It also led to KERB’s nomination as one of the participants in the competition.
The event attracted 90 technology companies and university research departments. KERB is one of just six finalists. Each finalist’s “minimum viable product” must be implemented in Kuala Lumpur, with support from local authorities and transport operators.
Australia has two entrants among the six finalists: KERB, representing Malaysia and Australia, and Liftango. They are competing against entries from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.
“I'm very much hoping we can win it, not just for the US$500,000 first prize, but for the recognition premium it will generate,” says Brown. “The endorsement by the City of Kuala Lumpur authorities will open all sorts of doors for us.”
Exploring partnership opportunities
KERB is seeking to expand its Malaysian presence beyond the city of Kuala Lumpur. It is currently exploring partnership opportunities with major property and retail groups in the Malaysian market.
This comes as Australia and Malaysia are broadening tech partnerships. Austrade and MDEC signed a partnership MoU in May 2021.
This new initiative aims to improve Australia-Malaysia collaboration in digital transformation.
The partnership will include a program of events and initiatives to expand collaboration between technology and digital economy businesses in Australia and Malaysia.
Australia and Malaysia have a long history of collaboration across technologies in the oil and gas, property, logistics and defence sectors.
Last year, Austrade Kuala Lumpur signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with MDEC aimed at building on this history of commercial partnerships focusing on multiple spheres of technology.
The Australia-Malaysia Tech Exchange (AMTX) is a program of business activities across multiple sectors jointly implemented by Austrade and the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). It seeks to help companies upscale their digital capabilities and increase commercial collaboration.
Long history of collaboration
The AMTX program will create opportunities for Australian technology businesses to partner with Malaysian companies.
“Australia is an important trading partner for Malaysia and we look forward to building closer bilateral trade ties in digital trade and investment via this program,” says MDEC Chief Executive, Surina Shukri.
“This collaboration will improve innovation and stimulate growth in the digital economy in line with Malaysia’s Digital Economy Blueprint,’ she adds. “We are committed to strengthening the tech ecosystems in both countries for shared success.”
Promoting two-way investment
The partnership with MDEC will help Australian businesses access major tech opportunities in Malaysia, says Austrade’s Trade Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, Paul Sanda. It should also promote two-way investment.
“AMTX will also help Malaysian firms that are looking to Australia for potential investment opportunities,” he says. “It should also trigger collaboration with Australian companies in other markets.”