News In Brief

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Welcome to our ‘News In Brief’ column in which we digest all the news releases for you in no more than five paragraphs. Below are snippets of all the media releases that we received from Oct 31 till the end of the week. This column updates regularly throughout the week.

Borneo Safari Returns 

Borneo Safari International Off-Road Challenge returns to Sabah. Image supplied.

Kota Kinabalu, Oct 30: The highly anticipated Borneo Safari International Off-Road Challenge returns to Sabah after a two-year break, bringing with it 470 modified off-road vehicles.
The 30th Borneo Safari edition will see over 1,000 participants driving through Tuaran and navigating the terrains of Kota Belud using old logging roads.
The participants come from all over Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei.
Flagging off the event on Sunday, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment cum Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the positive response, particularly from neighbouring countries, shows that outdoor adventure activity in Sabah is growing in popularity.
“We at Sabah Tourism see this as part of a concerted push to attract more tourists. We hope that all participants will take this opportunity to explore Sabah’s beauty and share their experiences with the world. I am sure through everyone’s reports and publicity, it will help propel the state’s tourism industry,” he said.

Perfect Corp Debuts On NYSE

Perfect Corp. Debuts on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

New York, Oct 31: Perfect Corp, a global leader in providing augmented reality and artificial intelligence Software-as-a-Service solutions to beauty and fashion industries, today became a publicly listed company trading on the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) with its Class A ordinary shares and warrants listed under the ticker symbols “PERF” and “PERF WS”, respectively.
Alice Chang, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Perfect, together with Perfect’s senior management team, rang the bell to open the first trading day of Perfect’s shares and warrants at the NYSE at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, Oct 31. 
Today, Perfect becomes the first Taiwan-based SaaS company listed on the NYSE, as a pioneer in transforming the consumer shopping experience with its sophisticated SaaS solutions, including live product try-on. Founded in 2015, Perfect is a global leading provider of AI and AR SaaS solutions to the beauty and fashion industries. The Company currently has offices located in 11 cities worldwide, including New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Shanghai and it serves over 450 cosmetic brands. 
With access to the global capital market, Perfect is committed to accelerating innovations in AI and AR SaaS solutions and expanding its business beyond beauty and fashion industries with its technology leadership and omnichannel reach. Perfect believes that it is well positioned to continue transforming consumers’ shopping experiences and capitalising on its innovative technology, while maintaining environmental sustainability and fulfilling social responsibilities.

Freshworks: “Freshservice for Business Teams”

Sydney, Nov 1: Freshworks Inc. (NASDAQ: FRSH), a software company empowering the people who power business, today announces Freshservice™ for Business Teams, which enables departments outside of the IT function like HR, facilities, legal and finance to securely provide uninterrupted service delivery within each department. Freshworks will host a virtual event on 9th November to demo a variety of new product innovations.
Launching Freshservice for Business Teams — an enterprise service management solution (ESM) — builds on Freshworks’s mission of helping every employee thrive with modern, easy, affordable products.
“Thousands of Freshworks customers already use Freshservice beyond IT to support internal stakeholders,” Prakash Ramamurthy, chief product officer at Freshworks said.
“With Freshservice for Business Teams, companies of all sizes can benefit from service management principles in non-IT departments. Every part of the business deserves uninterrupted service delivery.”

African Internet Is Less Affordable Than Oceania

Digital divide study: the Internet in Africa is 83 per cent less affordable than in Oceania. Image supplied.

Sydney, Nov 2: Surfshark recently released an internet divide study, which is based on data from the annual digital wellbeing index. 
The study reveals that people from lower-income countries have to work three times more than higher-income countries for three times slower internet. 
In many of these countries, the internet is so slow that not even video calls are possible.
Such internet inequality, combined with today’s inflation rates and political uncertainties, is taking people from lower-income countries on a downward spiral of economic hardship.
Surfshark’s analysis highlights that Africa experiences the sharpest internet divide, with just 55 per cent of the population having access to the internet (compared to 85 per cent in Oceania).
Even so, those with access experience deep inequalities in internet speed and affordability.
As of 2022, the internet in Africa is 83 percent less affordable than in Oceania (the region with the most affordable internet).

Freshworks Integrates AI Into CX And CRM

Sydney, Nov 2: Freshworks Inc., (NASDAQ: FRSH), a software company empowering the people who power business, has announced an infusion of artificial intelligence (AI) across its modern, easy-to-use customer experience solutions.
Freshworks will host a virtual event on Nov 9, to demo a variety of new product innovations.
The collection of updates across the Freshworks portfolio of products is designed to make work easier, more productive and more delightful, with automation that is easy to use and fast to implement through AI that is natively built-in to Freshchat™, Freshdesk™, Freshsales™ and Freshmarketer™.
Product updates include AI-powered support features to help agents improve response times, and embedded AI to help sales and marketers increase productivity and win more business.
According to Aberdeen Strategy & Research, real-time AI helps organisations maximise agent performance, create happy customers and reduce costs — with organisations using AI capabilities achieving a 3.5 times greater increase in customer satisfaction rates. 
Conversational AI can also impact the bottom line. According to Gartner, Inc, by 2026, conversational artificial intelligence (AI) deployments within contact centres will reduce agent labour costs by $80 billion.
Beyond targeting reductions in labour costs, it can also help organisations better serve customers.

Samsara Raises 54M In Sustainability Milestone

Samsara raises 54M in sustainability milestone. Image supplied.

Sydney, Nov 2: Australian enviro-tech startup, Samsara Eco has raised $54 million in a Series A funding round as it prepares to scale infinite recycling.
Samsara Eco is creating infinite recycling to end plastic pollution with its plastic-eating enzymes that break down plastic to its core molecules regardless of colour and state.
The new capital comes as Samsara Eco sets its sight on building its first plastic recycling facility later this year ahead of full-scale production in 2023. 
Among the new investors supporting Samsara’s mission to ensure no new plastic is made from fossil fuels again are Breakthrough Victoria, Temasek, Assembly Climate Capital, DCVC and INP Capital. Other co-investors in the round include founding and returning investors; deep tech fund Main Sequence, Woolworths Group’s W23 and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) Innovation Fund, managed by Virescent Ventures. 
In partnership with the Australian National University (ANU), Samsara launched last year having developed a new way to infinitely recycle plastic to help end the plastic pollution crisis. 
Samsara’s ground-breaking technology uses enzymes to break plastic down to its core building blocks, which can then be used to recreate brand new, virgin-quality plastic, again and again. 

Weavr Expands To Singapore

Singapore, Nov 2: Weavr, a London-headquartered technology provider that empowers businesses with plug-and-play embedded finance solutions, sets up in Singapore as part of its mission to make embedded financial services available to any digital business.
Backed by a US$40m Series A led by American investment firm Tiger Global, the official launch of Weavr in Singapore will be announced this week at the Singapore Fintech Festival at the Singapore Expo, wherein Weavr will be part of the United Kingdom (UK) Trade Mission pavilion led by the UK Department for International Trade.
With rising economic uncertainty, inflation rates at decade highs, and escalating geopolitical tensions, companies need to re-orient their business models to become more resilient.
One sure way to do so is to deliver greater value to their existing customer base.
Embedded finance can help digital businesses achieve this by providing the relevant financial services at the point they are needed by customers, using the rich data that many such businesses collect and process for their customers. 
In doing so, digital businesses have the opportunity to add significant new revenue streams from their existing customer base, in other words increasing their revenues without the need to increase their marketing budgets.

Hotel Cleaners Honoured

Shah Alam, Nov 2: Millions of cleaners have only one goal every day – they work to ensure that we can feel comfortable and safe in our living and work environment. Cleaning is one of the most important industries in the world, yet most of the people undertaking this important work are invisible to you.
Every day, the skilled, hardworking, and dedicated cleaning staff are working to ensure our facilities are clean and safe, especially during the Pandemic.
Karcher promises to make cleaning a more efficient and less stressful procedure for the cleaners.
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability program, Karcher Cleaning Systems Sdn Bhd organised a “Thank Your Cleaner Day.”
Thank Your Cleaner Day recognises the hard work cleaners do and lets them know they are valued and appreciated. 

Airbnb: Malaysians Flocking Overseas 

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 3: As more countries fully welcome international visitors once more, Malaysians are planning overseas trips with renewed enthusiasm.
New data from Airbnb reveals that destinations both near and far ranked among the top searched overseas destinations by Malaysians in the sector of the year.
Globally, the top-searched overseas country destinations by Malaysians on Airbnb this Q2 were Great Britain, Thailand, Australia, Switzerland and France.
Malaysians are also expanding their travel horizons and looking to explore new overseas destinations. 
Airbnb saw an increase of more than 180 percent in interest for stays in Saudi Arabia amongst Malaysian guests in Q2 2022 up from Q2 2019, and a more than 150 percent increase in searches for stays in Turkey during the same period. Other trending overseas destinations include Egypt (up 120 percent) and Mexico (up 80 percent).
Closer to home, Thailand, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore were the top most searched destinations in the Asia Pacific by Malaysian guests on Airbnb this past quarter two. 
Notably, interest to travel domestically remains undimmed as Malaysia takes the top spot as the #1 most searched destination amongst Malaysians on Airbnb. Across the country, domestic destinations most searched for by Malaysians this Q2 2022 were Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Petaling Jaya, Malacca and Georgetown.
Malaysians are also travelling to destinations closer to nature, with Lenggong (up 679 percent) in Perak and Kuala Kubu Bharu (up 628 percent) in Selangor as two of the top trending cities amongst Malaysians on Airbnb.

FedEx’s Economic Impact

New Global Report Demonstrates FedEx Economic Impact. Image supplied.

Hong Kong, Nov 3: FedEx Corp has released the findings from its 2022 report that analyzed the company’s impact on the global economy with key regional and market-specific analyses from around the world at the conclusion of its 2022 fiscal year (FY 2022).
The report, produced in consultation with Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE: DNB), a leading global provider of business decisioning data and analytics, for the first time analyzed the impact FedEx has on economies around the world.
Over the past 49 years, FedEx has expanded its services to more than 220 countries and territories and invested in a global network enabling businesses of all sizes to access and grow the global economy. 
The report found that FedEx played an integral role in helping businesses recover from the pandemic while overcoming strained supply chains and economic challenges.
With nearly 550,000 employees worldwide, FedEx moved an average of 16 million shipments each day through its 5,000 facilities in FY 2022. The company’s network optimization and investments improved efficiency and capacity for FedEx customers.“All around the world, FedEx helped individuals, businesses, and communities emerge from the pandemic by moving goods and providing services that connect us and power the global economy,” said Raj Subramaniam, President and CEO, FedEx Corporation.
“The report illustrates the ongoing and important work we do every day, including supporting small- and medium-sized businesses which are the backbone of our local communities. We call this the ‘FedEx Effect.’

Save On Your Power Bill With Tado

Sydney, Nov 3: tado°, the European leader in intelligent home climate management, has become a household name for its innovative approach to air conditioning and heat pumps, helping to promote a healthy home environment and coaching users on how to cut back on their energy usage.
So how does it work?
The tado° Smart AC Control V3+, reduces your heating costs when you’re not at home through geofencing that detects when you leave your house, reminding you to turn down the heating or cooling;  checks and takes into account the weather forecast. For example, it uses less energy when the sun is shining, since the room temperature will be higher; keeps you warm, where and when you need it through the multi-room control, allowing you to adjust the temperature in your rooms with one click; helps you save energy while you ventilate your home through open window detection, giving you time to hit pause while getting fresh air into your house and ensures you’re not wasting energy in rooms you’re not using through the smart schedule.

Joining Forces With UPM 


From left, Prof. Dr. Zamberi Sekawi, Dean of Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Professor Dr. Nazamid Saari, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Universiti Putra Malaysia, Richard Abela, VP & GM, Novo Nordisk Pharma (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and Patricia Tan, Director, Obesity Business Unit, Novo Nordisk. Image supplied.

Putrajaya, Nov 4: Novo Nordisk Pharma (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. (“Novo Nordisk”) continues its efforts to drive change in obesity by partnering with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) yesterday that outlines a series of activities towards addressing the rising issue of obesity in Malaysia, where 30.4 percent of Malaysian adults are overweight and 19.7 percent are obese. 
The MoU was signed by Professor Dr. Nazamid Saari, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Universiti Putra Malaysia and Richard Abela, VP & GM, Novo Nordisk Pharma (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, the MoU will commence for five (5) years from 2022 to 2027.
It was witnessed by Prof. Dr. Zamberi Sekawi Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Patricia Tan, Director, Obesity Business Unit, Novo Nordisk.
This initiative is part of Novo Nordisk’s commitment to go beyond medicine and collaborate across sectors in driving change to defeat stigma and make obesity a healthcare priority. 
“The collaboration between Novo Nordisk and UPM is hoped to raise awareness of obesity as a chronic disease, build capacities of current and future healthcare professionals (HCPs) in obesity care and develop multidisciplinary team approach in holistic management of obesity; Together with our partners, we are committed to driving changes in how the world sees, prevents and treats obesity”, says Richard.
In the collaboration, Novo Nordisk and UPM will be conducting three main activities within the five years duration.

Spritzer’s Big Win

Left, Winnie Chin, Group PR and Sustainability Manager of Spritzer Bhd and Right, Richard Rowles, Chairman of World Branding Forum.

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 8: SPRITZER has won the national award under beverages, for the water category of the World Branding Awards – Brand of the Year 2022-2023, a premier award recognition programme organised, assessed, evaluated and judged by the World Branding Forum. This is Spritzer’s eighth (08) consecutive year winning the prestigious award.
The national award was presented to Spritzer on 3 November 2022 at Kensington Palace, London. 
The 15th edition of the World Branding Awards – Brand of the Year 2022-2023 saw more than 3,500 brands from over 45 countries nominated across multiple categories under three levels – global, regional and national, with only 250 brands declared winners.
The award is uniquely judged and assessed through three streams, with each stream contributing a percentage to the total score – with brand valuation and public online voting each getting 30 per cent weightage and consumer market research getting 40 per cent weightage.
Only one national award is given to a brand from each product or service category from participating countries.
Spritzer would like to take this opportunity to thank all their loyal consumers, suppliers, and business partners for the support. The management wants to also thank the Spritzer team who worked hard to make this happen.
This award is testimony to the quality of their silica-rich mineral water.

MR D.I.Y. Recognised As Fav Store

Vivian Sun, Executive Vice President of MR D.I.Y. Thailand, receiving the Brand of the Year Award, from
World Branding Forum Chairman Richard Rowles at Kensington Palace, London on behalf of the retailer.

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 7: Regional home improvement retailer MR D.I.Y. has been in the news recently for racking up a slew of awards. 
At an award event held at Kensington Palace, London, on Nov 3, MR D.I.Y. was recognised as Southeast Asia’s favourite ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) store, taking home the Regional Award as the ‘Top Home Improvement Retail Brand’ across four markets – Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. 
This is the retailer’s fifth World Branding Award and its second Regional Award, with the first being in 2021. 
It took home the National Award in Malaysia for three years prior to that.  
The World Branding Awards is an annual event organised by the World Branding Forum, a global non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing branding principles for the benefit of customers and the branding community. 
Now in its 15th edition, the 2022-2023 award programme saw representation from 1.3 million consumers,  and 765 brands from 66 countries across seven regions. 
The Regional Award is presented to brands that are leaders in several countries in a particular geographical region.

Students Win Big

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 8: Tech Up Sdn Bhd, the National Host of Universal Robotics Challenge (URC) 2022, has announced the results of the virtual competition where Malaysian school pupils emerged as first-place winners in all four categories at the international level.
In Idea Contest (Junior Category), the first-place winner was Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Udang (Ahmad Aiman Danish bin Ahmad Syahir, Muhammad Harith Zaeem bin Hizamuddin, Adam Hariz bin Abdul Halim) and the first-place winner of Idea Contest (Senior Category) was Sekolah Bina Insan Yayasan MSU (Muhammad Aliff bin Norhamizam, Muhamad Afif bin Muhamad Rizuan and Zulhafidz bin Ngisa).
Meanwhile, in Virtual Robotics (Junior Category) Mi’ Mar Muhammad Sinan bin Hafizulfahmi from Sekolah Rendah Islam Al-Amin Gombak was the top winner and in Virtual Robotics (Senior Category) Orhan Ghazi bin Hafizulfahmi from Sekolah Menengah Islam Al-Amin Gombak took the first place. 
These students were the top finalists at the national level before they proceeded to represent Malaysia to compete against participants from Australia, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines, and South Korea. Winners of URC 2022 received an ArtecRobo 2.0 kit from Artec Co., Ltd.
This year’s URC 2022 recorded a total of 81 participants for Idea Contest and 655 participants for Virtual Robotics during the Malaysia national rounds.
Organized by Artec Co, Ltd from Japan, Universal Robotics Challenge is an international robotics competition for elementary and junior high school students. 
This year’s event was officially hosted by the Universal Robotics Challenge Executive Committee comprising 38 judges from 14 countries. 
The international round of project evaluation concluded in October.

FastCo Raises Millions

Singapore, Nov 10: FastCo has raised S$10.5 million in its Series A funding round.
FastCo is the company behind FastJobs,  South-east Asia’s top non-executive job portal for both job-seekers and employers, and FastGig,  Singapore’s first flexi-work recruitment app. 
In the extended Series A round, Malaysia-based investment firm, OSK Ventures International (“OSKVI”)  led the funding that raised a total investment of S$4.7million into FastCo with participation from  existing investor Cento Ventures (“Cento”) and new investor Kairous Capital (“Kairous”). 
Cento, a venture capital firm focused on early-stage technology start-ups in Southeast Asia, came on  board with S$5.8 million of funds during the initial Series A round in December 2021 and participated  in the Founder and management-led buy-out of FastCo from then SGX-listed Singapore Press Holdings  (“SPH”).  
The latest fund injection will support FastCo’s plans to make deeper inroads into the regional markets  with a focus on fortifying its marketing initiatives and growing its sales and product development  teams.  
FastCo’s Singapore operations yield a positive cash flow, and buoyed by positive prospects from  recovering job markets, the Group expects to break-even within the next two years. 

KitaJaga Unveils Version 2.0 with Updates 

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 10: After a successful experience helping hundreds of Malaysians affected by floods earlier this year, Terato Tech Sdn. Bhd. has recently launched version 2.0 of KitaJaga with significant updates including an improved Banjir Watch campaign, in time for a new monsoon season hitting Malaysian shores.
KitaJaga 2.0 provides a safer environment where users now must register and create a profile before they can access the app.
In addition, it also introduces a chat feature to allow users to contact those seeking help (Helpee) using a chat box without revealing phone numbers for privacy reasons.
From now on, KitaJaga makes Banjir Watch only accessible via its mobile app and no longer via its website.
This move helps enhance user experience by allowing them to quickly receive notifications of the flood situation right on their smartphone and get their pin location tagged more accurately.
The new KitaJaga Banjir Watch is available for Android and iOS devices.

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