ASEAN Startup Roundtable: Navigating Tech Startups Landscape

ASEAN Startup Roundtable: Navigating Tech Startups Landscape

Feb 03 , 2024

Leslie Do

In fostering multistakeholder dialogue and collaboration to tackle crucial challenges within the tech startup ecosystem in ASEAN, the ERIA Digital Innovation and Sustainable Economy Centre (E-DISC) hosted the inaugural ASEAN Startup Roundtable. The daylong event saw a confluence of vibrant discussions under the theme "Building a Tech Startup Ecosystem in ASEAN: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead."

A highlight for us as a brand was having the chance to showcase the capabilities of our upcoming CoFounder Pilot product to these thought leaders. The enthusiastic feedback and keen interest expressed were both gratifying and invigorating. It is evident that there is a collective vision for a more interconnected and resilient ASEAN startup landscape. A platform like CoFounder Pilot, capable of uniting all stakeholders in the ecosystem, might just be the solution needed!

Without any delay, let's Asia Innovate Hub brings you a neutral perspective on the insights gained from this significant gathering.

Deliberating the Complexity of Tech Startup Ecosystems

As the Chief Operating Officer of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Mr. Koji Hachiyama reflected on the enriching discussions that unfolded throughout the day. The discourse delved into the intricacies of developing a robust tech startup ecosystem in the ASEAN region, acknowledging the vital roles played by various stakeholders. Key challenges identified included the need for a resilient digital infrastructure, ample funding, bridging talent gaps, and establishing supportive regulatory frameworks.

Session 1: Nurturing Local Innovation Ecosystems

The paradox of digital connectivity and the imperative of nurturing local innovation ecosystems took center stage in the first session. Participants emphasized the significance of sector-specific focus, calling for heightened innovation in digital technology and the need for university-level research facilities. The session concluded with policy recommendations, including fostering public-private partnerships and advocating for an Asian-wide partnership dedicated to digital infrastructure development.

In this section, Start-up Ecosystem Lead at Huawei Cloud A-Pac, Llewellan Vance, shed light on the significant impact of their Program Horizon. Program Horizon stands out as an Applied Intelligence Accelerator Program centered around enterprises. It effectively integrates innovation and intelligence, simplifying technological complexities across Architecture, Security, Data, Analytics, and AI at an accelerated pace. This initiative not only propels enterprise innovations but also fosters collaborations with startups in enterprise deals, thereby playing a pivotal role in elevating Singapore's startup ecosystem.

Session 2: Overcoming Financial Challenges

Financial challenges faced by tech startups in the ASEAN region, particularly early-stage funding gaps, were explored in the second session. The scattered venture capital landscape across diverse ASEAN countries was identified as a hurdle, prompting discussions on alternative financing sources such as government funding and innovative models of support. The session highlighted the importance of matching the right type of funding with the right type of startups and innovation.

Session 3: Nurturing Human Capital
The third session focused on nurturing human capital in the ASEAN tech startup sector, acknowledging the shortage of tech talent. Strategies for developing and retaining a skilled workforce were discussed, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive approach beyond compensation. Efforts and initiatives from institutions to provide free tools, resources, educational platforms, and networking opportunities were commended. The conclusion emphasized that developing a skilled workforce requires a holistic approach, including a compelling employer brand, talent development, and attractive compensation and benefits.

Looking Ahead: Unlocking ASEAN's Potential

The potential of ASEAN in the startup landscape was underscored, with an acknowledgment that it doesn't necessarily need to emulate the Silicon Valley model. The region is working towards regional economic integration, aiming to be a center for innovation-led growth. E-DISC, as a collaborative platform and regional hub for open innovation, startups, and entrepreneurial initiatives, is dedicated to fostering an environment that encourages and supports innovation within the ASEAN region.

In conclusion, all participants expressed gratitude for the fruitful collaboration at the Roundtable and looked forward to more such initiatives in the future. The event served as a milestone in the ongoing efforts to shape a vibrant and sustainable tech startup ecosystem in the ASEAN region.