Man charged after 46kg of magic mushrooms allegedly found in Western Sydney backyard


A western Sydney man will face is set to face court today charged with cultivating an estimated 46kg of “magic mushrooms” in a backyard shed.
Cumberland Police last month opened Strike Force Bagster to investigate the suspected manufacture of illicit drugs in the Greystanes region.
Police officers took three days to seize a total of 46.3kg of magic mushrooms in western Sydney. (NSW Police)
Inside one of the plastic boxes in the laboratory allegedly producing $700,000 worth of magic mushrooms. (NSW Police)

As part of their investigation, a 26-year-old man was pulled over by police on Pennant Hills Road, West Pennant Hills on February 3.

A search of the vehicle allegedly found magic mushrooms (psilocybin), cocaine, $50,000 in cash and two knives.

The man was arrested and remanded in custody.

As a result, NSW Police said they issued a search warrant for a Merrylands Road home in Greystanes where they allegedly found a secret drug laboratory housing magic mushrooms with an estimated street value of $700,000.

Footage released by NSW Police shows officers in full protective suits enter the seemingly innocuous backyard shed to discover dozens of plastic crates as part of the alleged operation.

Officers in protective suits enter the shed at a home in Greystanes, western Sydney. (NSW Police)
Dozens of plastic containers allegedly growing magic mushrooms worth $700,000 in a shed in western Sydney. (NSW Police)

It took Strike Force officers and the Chemical Operations Unit three days to comb through the back yard find, police said.

Police arrested a 26-year-old man they believe to be connected with the drug best at a Silverwater facility on Monday.

He was charged with a string of offences including drug supply and manufacturing a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug.

Police said he would face Paramatta Local Court on Tuesday.

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Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Magic Beach


QUT Gardens Theatre

Alison Lester AM’s classic much-loved book Magic Beach comes to life on stage at QUT Gardens Theatre from April 6 to 10, 2021, in an enchanting world of text, song, light, shadow and movement.

The majestic and much-loved production Magic Beach returns to Brisbane after a sellout season at Brisbane Powerhouse back in November. 2020.

From the team behind The Gruffalo and The 13-, 26-, 52-, 78- and 91-Storey Treehouses, this new Australian adaptation from multi-award winning playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer is a celebration of the power of the imagination and the differences that make every child special.

Every year, an everyday family go on a beach holiday. This isn’t just any beach – it’s Magic Beach, where everything you can imagine becomes real. But this year is different. As the eldest child begins to grow up, does she have to leave the magic behind?

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Horse racing news 2021: Tony Vasil allegedly assaults two women, Magic Millions carnival, Gold Coast


Disqualified Victorian horse trainer Tony Vasil is reportedly being investigated by police for allegedly assaulting two women, per 2GB.

The Ray Hadley Morning Show obtained CCTV footage of the incident, which appears to show Vasil inappropriately touch a 73-year old woman.

She then slaps him across the face before he allegedly lashes back, prompting the 73-year old’s adult daughter to confront him.

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Homemade Raspberry Sorbet | Sugar Salt Magic


Cooling, refreshing, bright, tangy, creamy – there are so many wonderful ways to describe this homemade raspberry sorbet. How about sweet, easy, quick and incredibly delicious.

I’ve recently gone on a bender adding more recipes to my frozen treats category. Raspberry ripple ice cream and mango sorbet should definitely make it on your summer recipes list along with this one.

A glass dish filled with raspberry sorbet with scoops of sorbet on one side

After my mango sorbet last week, raspberries were always the next on my list. There is no denying the raspberry-ness of this sorbet – it’s like eating frozen raspberries but creamier and no seeds.

It melts away on your tongue and can easily be made sweeter or tarter to your liking.

Even if you don’t have an ice cream machine, you can make this fresh and tangy sorbet recipe, with very similar results!

scoops of raspberry sorbet in a a small glass bowl with raspberries behind

What is it?

Sorbet is a frozen dessert, most often but not always made with fruit as the base. The major difference between sorbet and ice cream is that true sorbet does not contain any dairy or eggs making this dessert;

  • Dairy free
  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Vegetarian and generally vegan

It’s definitely not flavour free, in fact, the flavour is more intense than ice cream, without any kind of cream to ‘water down’ the fruit flavour.

Raspberry sorbet ingredients

Five ingredients – that’s all you need.

Ingredients for raspberry sorbet on a marble benchtop
  • Raspberries (1): Fresh or frozen will work and you could also use other types of berries.
  • Water (2): Raspberries already have a high water contend so just a small amount of water is used to make the sugar syrup.
  • Sugar (3): While raspberries are naturally sweet, the flavour will become less sweet on freezing so you will need to add sugar. You can swap this for a natural sweetener if you prefer though.
  • Glucose (4): While optional, I highly recommend using glucose or light corn syrup. It helps to smooth out the sorbet by limiting the formation of sugar crystals.
  • Vanilla (5): Again, this is optional but it actually intensifies the raspberry flavour.

How to make it

I love how simple this is. I like to make a sugar syrup as opposed to just adding straight sugar to the raspberries as it gives a smoother finish but it’s very quick and simple to do.

Images showing how to make raspberry sorbet with a blender and ice cream maker
  1. The sugar syrup: Add water, sugar and glucose (or light corn syrup) to a small saucepan (photo 1), over low medium heat. Dissolve the sugar then let it boil for 1 minute.
  2. The raspberries: Add the raspberries and sugar syrup to a blend (photo 2) then blend until smooth. Add the vanilla (photo 3) and blend again to mix.  
  3. Strain: Strain the seeds out by pushing the sorbet through a mesh strainer (photo 4).
  4. Churn:Tip the sorbet into your ice cream machine (photo 5) – see notes below for churning by hand – until it looks like soft serve (photo 6). Freeze overnight.

How to churn sorbet by hand

Churning ice cream and sorbet gives a creamier consistency. The action of stirring it continuously as it begins to freeze keeps the ice crystals smaller so you will always get a smoother ice cream or sorbet with a machine. So if you have one, it’s worth getting it out for this.

That being said there are two ways you can approach a sorbet recipe without churning.

  1. Churn it by hand: give the sorbet a vigorous mix, bring everything from the edges into the centre, every half an hour, until it’s too hard to be able to do it anymore. Normally over a 2-3 hour period.
  2. Don’t churn it: Just blend, pour into an airtight container and freeze. This will give you the iciest version but it will still taste lovely and still be refreshing.

If you’re happy with very soft sorbet, you can technically eat this as soon as it’s been blended. It’s cold, refreshing, sweet and tangy just a lot softer. If you are planning on this, make the simple syrup the day before then add it cold to frozen raspberries when you blend them.

How to serve it

Raspberry sorbet will begin to melt fairly quickly due to it’s fairly high water content. I shot these photos on a warmish day with no ac on, and after about 20 minutes, it was at this stage of thaw (below).

scoops of raspberry sorbet in a a small glass bowl with raspberries behind

Still extremely cold and with just semi-frozen scoops it was still very enjoyable but this is all to say, serve it as soon as you scoop it for best results.

A great trick is to scoop the sorbet and place it in bowls a few hours prior to serve. Immediately place them back in the freezer and they’ll be perfect when you want to serve..

How to store homemade sorbet?

  1. Sorbet is best stored in a sturdy, air-tight container.
  2. The less air the better too, so keep your sorbet in smaller containers where possible or if you only have larger containers, press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface.
  3. Try not to let your sorbet thaw and re-freeze too often as this can create more ice crystals – using a number of smaller containers will be best for this.
  4. Avoid keeping sorbet in the door of the freezer – it’s best pushed right to the back where the temperature is less prone to change.
  5. While sorbet can technically keep for a number of months, homemade is always at it’s best within 3-4 days of making it.
Top down view of a scoop of raspberry sorbet

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scoops of raspberry sorbet in a a small glass bowl with raspberries behind

Homemade Raspberry Sorbet

This homemade raspberry sorbet recipe is quick to make and tastes bright and vibrant. Turn fresh or frozen raspberries into an easy sorbet in no time. Cooling, refreshing, bright, tangy, creamy – it’s the perfect frozen dessert.

  • Combine the sugar, water and glucose in a heavy-based saucepan over low-medium heat. Stir until dissolved together.

  • Bring it to a boil for one minute.

  • Add the raspberries, syrup and vanilla to a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Push the sorbet through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl to remove seeds.

  • Churn In your ice cream machine (or see notes for hand churning) to manufacturer instructions until it is about soft-serve consistency, then freeze for 4-6 hours, minimum. Overnight is best.

  1. Fresh, in-season raspberries will give a sweeter result.
  2. Serve this sorbet immediately. Due to high water content it can begin to melt quite quickly. You can scoop ahead of time, then freeze the scoops until serving time.
  3. I recommend using the glucose or light corn syrup for a smoother consistency.
  4. Churn it by hand: give the sorbet a vigorous mix, bring everything from the edges into the centre, every half an hour, until it’s too hard to be able to do it anymore. Normally over a 2-3 hour period.
  5. Don’t churn it: Just blend, pour into an airtight container and freeze. This will give you the iciest version but it will still taste lovely and still be refreshing.

For more frozen treats, click here

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Sri Lanka’s health minister tests positive for coronavirus after promoting magic potions to fight COVID-19


Sri Lanka’s health minister, who publicly endorsed sorcery and magic potions to stop surging coronavirus infections in the island, has tested positive to COVID-19.

She and her close contacts will self-isolate, officials said on Saturday.

Pavithra Wanniarachchi had publicly consumed and endorsed a magic potion, later revealed to contain honey and nutmeg, manufactured by a sorcerer who claimed it worked as a life-long inoculation against the virus.

She also poured a pot of “blessed” water into a river in November after a self-styled god-man told her that it would end the pandemic.

The island nation of 21 million on Friday approved the emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine only hours after Ms Wanniarachchi tested positive, officials said.

“Her antigen test returned positive on Friday and she has been asked to isolate herself,” a health ministry official said.

“All her immediate contacts have been quarantined.”

A junior minister who had also taken the potion made popular by Ms Wanniarachchi tested positive for the virus earlier this week.

Doctors in the island nation have said there is no scientific basis for the syrup, and there is no known cure for COVID-19.

But thousands defied public gathering restrictions to swamp a village in central Sri Lanka last month to obtain the elixir.

Sri Lankan health officials attend a mock COVID-19 vaccination drive after the Government approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.(AP: Eranga Jayawardena)

Family members of another politician have also been infected after taking the syrup.

Pro-government media gave widespread publicity to the holy man, who claimed the formula was revealed to him by Kali, a Hindu goddess of death and destruction.

But the Government has since scrambled to distance itself from the man, whose preparation was approved as a food supplement by the official indigenous medicine unit.

Sri Lanka is in the grip of a coronavirus surge, with the number of cases and deaths soaring from 3,300 and 13 in early October to nearly 57,000 infections and 278 dead this week.

AFP

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American Magic vow to continue after Patriot capsize


Rival teams raced to the assistance of the American team, along with police and fire officers. The boat eventually was hoisted upright and pumped out and, after several hours, was towed back to its base in downtown Auckland, where it arrived around midnight.

Hutchinson said “there was definitely a lot of concern” that Patriot would not be saved.

“When you start attaching things to the top of the mast, you know that’s not a good situation,” he told reporters on the dock. “But we’ll assess the situation. Obviously the boats are highly complicated on the inside. We’ll have a good look at her and figure out where we go from here.

“We obviously sustained some damage to the bow of the boat,” he continued. “It’s too early to really comment on how long it takes or the extent of it. We’ll get a better look at it when we get Patriot in the shed and from there we’re going to keep our sights set on the semi-final, get our feet back on the ground.”

While racing doesn’t resume until Friday, competing boats are expected to be available to be measured in their race set-up by Wednesday afternoon. Hutchinson said he is confident American Magic will be able to continue.

“Things that don’t kill you are only going to make you stronger and I’m exceptionally confident in the team,” he said. “Until you’re dead, you’re not.

Members of the American Magic team attempt to save their yacht Patriot after it capsized in Auckland on Sunday.Credit:Getty

“I’ve always been confident in Patriot and the performances she’s shown and I think we’ll have to keep it in perspective: we’re here, no one was hurt which is a major bonus and we go forward from there. It’s the America’s Cup; we have to be prepared to fight for it and we will.”

Hutchinson thanked those who raced to Patriot’s assistance, including America’s Cup defender Team New Zealand which helped to save Patriot and tow it back to base, providing pizza for the tired and hungry crew.

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“I do need to make sure I say thank you to the local authorities — the fire department and the police — and particularly to Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa and Team Ineos for the support they gave us on the water,” he said.

“Team New Zealand in particular helped tow us back to the dock for three-and-a-half hours.

“In these moments, you get the true sense of what competitors can do for you and how we should all treat each other. They showed a great display of sportsmanship.”

AP

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Ndombele’s magic guides Tottenham to easy win at Sheffield United


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Tottenham had looked commanding in the first half with Aurier heading in from a corner after five minutes and Kane’s clinical finish doubling their lead in the 40th minute.

In the end it was a routine win, but there was nothing ordinary about Ndombele’s fifth league goal for Spurs.

When Steven Bergwijn popped a ball over the top of the United defence, Ndombele was moving away from goal on the left side of the penalty area.

There appeared no way he could produce an effort on goal but with the outside of his right foot, and with his back to goal, he lifted the ball back over himself and over home keeper Aaron Ramsdale into the far corner.

“Tanguy’s goal was incredible, the technique he had to flick that ball back over the keeper was truly special,” Kane, who bagged his 12th league goal of the season, said.

“Anyone who can put a good spell together (is in the title race), that’s why it has been disappointing and frustrating for us dropping points from winning positions.”

Considering the lift they received by beating Newcastle, Sheffield United were terribly flat in the first half.

Their defence was nowhere when Aurier connected from close range with Son Heung-min’s corner and they were almost punished again soon after when Son was denied by the post.

Tottenham’s second goal stemmed from the hosts trying and failing to play out from the back. Tottenham won the ball and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg fed the ball to Kane who did not have much space but dispatched a fizzing low shot past Ramsdale.

Tottenham have been criticised for an overly-cautious approach when leading – and when McGoldrick glanced in John Fleck’s cross, it appeared to be happening again. But Ndomebele ensured this time there was no repeat.

Reuters

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Isotope to leade Black Soil Bloodstock’s Magic Millions charge


Former NRL player turned businessman Brian Siemsen has built a growing bloodstock empire which could net its biggest payday at the Magic Millions.

Brian Siemsen readily admits he had a “lucky” start to his dabbling in horse ownership, but it was some frank advice from his close mate Tony Gollan that sowed the seeds for what has become the emerging juggernaut of Black Soil Bloodstock.

Isotope is out to give the now-prominent black and white Black Soil colours their biggest success when she runs in Saturday’s $2 million Magic Millions Guineas.

Stakes winning mare Niedorp also runs for the team in the $1 million Fillies & Mares race.

Siemsen is a successful businessmen, having founded the company Claim Central Consolidated at the same time he was trying to carve out a career in the NRL with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

“One of the coaches in my last contract, I explained I had this business that was going well, there’s a two-year (NRL) contract, what should I do?” he said.

“He sort of indicated to me that maybe business is your go. You’re not that good at footy! But he gave me great advice and I finished rugby league in 2007.”

In 2012, Siemsen was selected as Ernst & Young’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year and he has overseen the global expansion of Claim Central into the US, South Africa, Italy and New Zealand.

“That’s still the main business, this (Black Soil Bloodstock) is a labour of love,” he said.

“You spend 18 hours a day for 20 years ­toiling and grinding in your core business and you need an outlet like this.”

Two of the first four horses Siemsen owned were Temple Of Boom and Spirit Of Boom – both Group 1 winners – but if he thought he had the Midas touch, his old footy buddy soon set him straight.

“Tony told me I’d had some luck, but that’s all it was,” Siemsen said.

“He said if I was going to do this commercially, I had a lot to learn. He said following him around for a week once a year wasn’t going to help me.

“That’s when he pushed me in the direction of Harry (McAlpine) and John (Foote).

“So I got together with H (McAlpine), I had a concept, he had a better concept.

“We want to change the narrative in the market that suggests racing is really expensive, you never win, all that sort of stuff.

“Having the right team that can mitigate all of those factors – (rather than) ‘let’s guess, not worry about X-rays’ and all the other stuff – has been a huge journey for me, because I was on that other side. Until you work with guys like Harry and John, you don’t realise how much there is to it.”

McAlpine is from the famous Darling Downs family that has for decades produced top-class horses from its Eureka Stud.

He had been with Inglis as an auctioneer and bloodstock consultant for five years before deciding to return home when Spirit Of Boom emerged as a stallion of national significance for Eureka.

“We boosted (Spirit Of Boom’s) fee from $10,000 to $50,000, the demand was so strong for him on what he’d done, so I came home and managed that and the exciting part is we got to pick the mares that would suit him best and this (year’s yearlings) is the result,” McAlpine said.

“Hopefully with the calibre of horse he has now – and they will race at the end of the year – we can take him to another level.”

Simultaneously, McAlpine helped mould Siemsen’s ambitious plans into a successful racing enterprise.

“The future view for us is to keep the focus on buying these elite fillies that can race at stakes level,” McAlpine said.

“We want to buy nice fillies with nice pages that if something goes wrong we can put them back through the ring (with residual value).

“We want to prove we can make a return on the strategy we are using.”

While Siemsen has been growing his bloodstock portfolio the past few years, it wasn’t until April 4 last year (the day Gollan’s father Darryl passed away) that the Black Soil colours were launched.

Since then, Black Soil horses have had 51 starts for 21 wins, headed by the black-type winners Isotope, Niedorp and The Actuary.

Siemsen also has several breeding mares he shares in, one of which, Mexican Rose, has an American Pharoah colt due to be sold by Eureka on Thursday.

Black Soil has gradually grown to incorporate investors who want to race horses, but in a way that minimises the risk. The number topped 20 last year, with a minimum $25,000 buy in, but Siemsen and McAlpine want to grow it further. “If we had anywhere between 75-100 folks on a rotation, we would come to sales every year looking for those six or seven horses and an opportunity to compete in the bigger races,” Siemsen said.

Siemsen and McAlpine have known Gollan long before he became the state’s top trainer, through Eureka Stud and Siemsen living with the Gollan family for a time.

“I watched that kid from the time he couldn’t afford to get two horses to raising money, building relationships, training them, winning, going back and raising money, coming to the sales … I have watched that journey,” Siemsen said.

“Whatever you think you see now, he’s been in the trenches and he’s grinded it out.

“I’m super proud of him. I think he has done an exceptional job and he’s still that loveable rogue.”

So what would it mean to win a Magic Millions on Saturday with Gollan, McAlpine and the Black Soil family?

“One of the biggest criticisms Tony had of me when the Booms were racing is that I didn’t appreciate how hard it was to win a good race,” Siemsen admits.

“We were just spoilt. Now I understand. The adrenaline is unbelievable. There’s nothing like it.

“I set a plan three years ago and I said I want to be represented on Magic Millions day in three years.

“So through the good buying, the hard work and Tony doing his job, he’s put us there with two live chances.”

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Honey Granola Clusters | Sugar Salt Magic


If there is one ready-made snack you can count on being in my pantry at all times, it’s granola and currently it’s a big batch of these honey granola clusters.

For the longest time, I steered away from making my own purely because I found it so addictive but having learnt a little self-control over the years I started to create my own. This easy maple granola was the first.

A gold baking tray filled with granola clusters

Perfect for eating on it’s own with milk or yoghurt or scattering over the top of pancakes for a crunchy element, granola is an amazingly simple treat to make.

Granola clusters are like a healthy cookie to me. Full of fibre and low GI so it keeps you full for longer but I also have a hard time stopping at one handful. Hard as I try, if a batch of this honey granola is sitting on my kitchen bench, I have to pack it up quick so I don’t eat another delicious handful every time I go past.

What you’ll need

Homemade granola (or you may know it as toasted muesli) is a bunch of simple ingredients, mixed together in a bowl, then baked.

Ingredients for granola on a marble benchtop
  • Oats (2): I use whole rolled oats in mine to keep it super chunky but you can use half and half rolled oats and quick oats too.
  • Sweetener: This recipe uses brown sugar (3) and honey (1). You can swap these for things like coconut sugar and maple syrup respectively.
  • Nuts and seeds: Perfect for adding some crunch, I use almonds (6) and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) (8) in this recipe but feel free to use your favourites. Chop larger nuts into small pieces.
  • Flavourings: A little vanilla (4) and a touch of cinnamon (9) work perfectly with the honey..
  • Sea salt flakes (10): Just a touch to balance the sweetness and give a little salty kick from time to time.
  • Oil (5): I use a little rice bran oil but you can use canola or coconut oil too.
  • Dried fruit (7): The chewiness of the dried cranberries round out the textural elements.

Check out my easy maple granola for loads more substitution ideas.

How to make it

If you’ve never made it before, you’ll love how easy it is to make these honey granola clusters.

Mixing granola ingredients in a bowl then transferring to a baking tray
  1. Combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl then add the dry ingredients – I’ve used two bowls in the pictures but that’s not necessary (images 1&2).
  2. Spread it out on a baking paper lined tray and press it down with a spatula (image 3).
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, give it a mix so that it browns evenly then bake for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add the cranberries and give it another mix around (images 4), pulling the edges into the middle, then flatten it out again and bake a further 7-10 minutes until deep golden all over.
  5. Now you need to wait for it to cool without touching it and as it cools, the clumps will stick together and get super crunchy.

Once cooled and crunchy, break the granola into large clumps

Make sure you mix it all really well before baking so that the honey coating gets over every piece. This caramelises (along with the sugar) and helps it all stick together once it’s baked.

A pile of granola clusters on a white bench top

How to store granola

Granola keeps very well in an airtight container. Store it in a cool-dry place for 4-6 weeks, if it lasts that long.

You can freeze it too. Since it’s quite spiky an airtight container is best as it may pierce a plastic bag.

How to use granola

Aside from being completely acceptable snack food all on it’s own, try this honey granola on it’s own with milk or with yoghurt and berries (my favourite way). It’s also great for adding crunch on top of pancakes or chia pudding.

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A spoon topped with chunks of granola

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A gold baking tray filled with granola clusters

Honey Granola Clusters

Delicious, super crunchy granola clusters, sweetened with honey are perfect for breakfast or a ready-made snack. Easy to make, easy to customise, and incredibly tasty, this chunky granola can sit in your pantry ready for whenever the urge strikes.

  • Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: honey, oil, vanilla extract. Mix them really well.

  • Add the remaining ingredients (except the cranberries). Mix well – this is easiest with your hands.

  • Tip onto the prepared baking tray. Press it down into a thick layer.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, giving it a mix around and flattening out again halfway through.

  • Add the cranberries and stir it around, then press down again.

  • Bake a further 7-10 minutes until it is deep golden in colour.

  • Remove from oven and let it cool at room temperature until completely cooled.

  • Break into clusters and store in an airtight container for 4-6 weeks.

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons)
  2. Don’t add the cranberries before halfway or they will become far too chewy.
  3. The pressing down is what gives you the clusters. Although you stir it a few times throughout, don’t skip this step or it may dry out too much before it has a chance to clump together.

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MaGIC CEO: 2020 highlights importance of innovation, technology, collaboration & capacity building


  • Building vibrant, sustainable startup ecosystem requires effort from all stakeholders
  • Capacity building has allowed startups to pivot and remain resilient at a tough time

2020 was, by all accounts, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. But it was also a year of revelations – of change, opportunity, and lessons.

For the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), 2020 highlighted the importance of innovation and technology in surviving a global pandemic. “Innovation and technology has never been more important and prominently used, to say the least,” MaGIC CEO Dzuleira Abu Bakar tells Digital News Asia, as part of a recap of 2020.

“The last year accelerated technology adoption and changed our worldview of things in ways we could not have ever imagined. All only possible through the power of technology and innovation.”

2020 was also a year of revelations for Dzuleira, who personally learned how to navigate expectations when it comes to life, work and family – how to manage education, social interactions and keeping mental and physical health in check during such a highly disruptive period.

“To me, the year has imparted a crucial lesson on the need to be on the lookout for each other,” she says.

It’s a lesson that was extended to MaGIC and the Malaysian tech startup ecosystem as a whole.

Covid-19 has had a severe impact on startups worldwide. According to the Global Startup Ecosystem report, 72% of startups in the world have seen their sales fall since the beginning of the pandemic, with the drop averaging at 32%. On top of that, a 40% decline in sales or more was faced by 40% of all startups, while only 12% recorded substantial growth.

In Malaysia, this was softened somewhat thanks to a bit of foresight by MaGIC, who – at the start of the movement control order (MCO) – conducted a survey which found that a shocking 2.9% of startups were confident they could survive beyond 12 months under prevailing lockdown conditions.

Three weeks into the MCO, MaGIC ran another survey, which found that 64% of startups experienced a decline in revenue. On top of that, 21% said they needed between RM251,000 to RM500,000 (US$62,500 to US$124,500) to sustain their business until the end of 2020, while 16% indicated that they needed more than RM500,000.

“The findings of both surveys played a big part in the fruition of the design of the tech startup funding,” Dzuleira says. Sure enough, during 2020’s Global Acceleration Program (GAP) organised by MaGIC in mid-Sept, access to funding and startup resilience became a key theme.

 

Doing this together

For the most part, startups are more resilient than they appear. Dzuleira points out that they are agile by design, and most have been responsive in addressing the needs, challenges and opportunities during the pandemic.

Yet not all startups are able to make the necessary leap. “We are also aware that not all businesses can pivot. Some may need to rip apart their business model and implement a new one. We believe startups need to continue to build capacity in order to increase resilience,” Dzuleira says.

“Therefore, MaGIC has shifted its programmes to help startups diversify their business models or product market. Our programmes are tailored to build high economic and social impact. In these challenging times, it is imperative that we have a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem for startups to ensure they soldier on and thrive.”

It’s not something MaGIC could do alone. “Building a vibrant and sustainable startup ecosystem at a national, regional and global scale requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders – from entrepreneurs and corporates, to regulators and consumers – as we attempt to innovatively develop solutions for challenges that come our way. Together, we can propel a resilient global economy,” Dzuleira elaborates.

For Dzuleira, social innovation taps into the power of collaboration and partnership – the bringing-together of public, private and the community themselves to devise innovative solutions for the country.

“We should not work out solutions in silo, but have that open platform and conversation to bring the right people onboard and devise more effective solutions.

“This may include ideas, ways and means, strategies and even organizations that develop innovative solutions to meet, especially the needs of those who live at the bottom of the pyramid – improving their access and outcomes in areas such as education, healthcare, community development, livelihood and more.”

 

Into the new normal

These solutions will be pivotal in allowing the country to navigate the coming times. “Normal has been redefined, it would be unlikely that things return to where they were pre pandemic. It’s the New Normal that we have to live in, which minus the healthcare crisis and tragedy can be a norm enabled by technology.”

To thrive in this new normal, she adds, we would have to embrace change – something which can be done with technology.

“We need to embrace change to ensure business growth and sustainability. There are lessons to be learnt from the global health crisis, and it is important to learn, adapt and pivot,” she stresses.

“In MaGIC, this could be done through the restructuring of our existing programmes such as GAP and MaGIC Online Academy, whilst introducing new ones such as MyStartup Hub and Global Market Fit Programme to better suit the needs for startup to be ever adaptive to other scenarios the future offers.”

 

What now?

Where do we go from here? For Dzuleira, it’s about learning the right lessons. The revenue drop over the early months of the MCO is an indicator that being agile and capable of pivoting is crucial to survive – something Dzuleira says is a lesson startups need to take to heart.

“Of course, some business models are tough to pivot and a better solution may be to tear it apart and draw up a new plan. Yes, tough times call for extraordinary measures. But startups are agile by nature and are able to shift faster compared to large conglomerates,” she says.

This, she adds, can partially be attributed to their commitment towards capacity building, which helps build resilience in times of crisis. “These startups have enhanced their skills, knowledge and equipment. They are ready to scale up or mitigate disruptions.”

“MaGIC has always been a believer of capacity building and supports the ecosystem through various accelerator programmes and bootcamps, making available our best-of-breed mentors and most sought-after coaches in various specialties to assist startups reaching out for assistance.”

Again, MaGIC didn’t do this alone. Government interventions also helped. MaGIC’s survey found that almost 74% of startups claimed that they have benefited from various government incentives.

2021 may not dawn at a new light. Much of the future remains cloudy. But Dzuleira has a more positive outlook. “We may be facing an economic contraction, but the truth is, matters could be much worse,” she quips.

“Malaysia’s resilient economy has managed to stand firm, no doubt thanks to the strong foundations in place as well as the timely and strategic government interventions to prevent us from going into free fall.”

If anything, 2021 does have its silver lining. The Malaysian Central Bank, for one, forecast a GDP growth of between 5.5% and 8%, something Dzuleirsa says is “indeed music to our ears.”

What’s important now is staying the course and adapting, as well as put trust in innovation and technology. “By enabling technology, we are able to re-engineer the way we operate and transform our futures,” Dzuleira concludes.


Karamjit Singh contributed to this article.

Thank you for stopping to visit My Local Pages. We Hope you enjoyed checking this story about current Asian news called “MaGIC CEO: 2020 highlights importance of innovation, technology, collaboration & capacity building”. This article is presented by My Local Pages Australia as part of our World news services.

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