Mapping ASEAN’s start-up movers and shakers

26 July 2019 | Entrepreneurship
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Prof Wong presenting TechASEAN at the event

Over the past decade, ASEAN has seen a shift from its agrarian roots to become a rising innovation powerhouse, its burgeoning entrepreneurship scene making it a hotbed for start-ups. Now, there is a way to understand the intricacies of their dynamic ecosystem with TechASEAN, an online platform developed and curated by an NUS Enterprise research team in collaboration with data analytics start-up, Wonderlabs.

Professor Wong Poh Kam, Senior Director of NUS Entrepreneurship Centre and Professor at NUS Business, who led the research team, observed that ASEAN’s start-up ecosystems have grown tremendously over the past few years and that the region with its growing economy and a population that is still relatively young, increasingly affluent and educated, presents great opportunities. “We hope that TechASEAN, by providing a unified platform that brings together information on the fragmented start-up ecosystems, will be useful to venture investors seeking to invest regionally, start-ups looking for partners and talents to scale across the region, and various start-up ecosystem service providers seeking to build pan-ASEAN presence,” he said.

TechASEAN will provide comprehensive and up-to-date directories of more than 20,000 tech start-ups in ASEAN, as well as information on the founders, investors, incubators, technology sources and other facilitating intermediaries, and how they are dynamically connected with one another. This pattern of connectivity among these key players will provide powerful insights on the key movers and shakers of the tech entrepreneurship ecosystem in the ASEAN region.

The platform will allow players in the ecosystem to own and update profiles, including their connections to other members. Supported by a Natural Language Processing engine and featuring Application Program Interfaces, information feeds from partner organisations in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, such as profile updates, event announcements and press releases will be automated and integrated into the platform. It will also present analytics about the ecosystems, including comparative analysis of their trends and structures, as well as highlighting the interconnectivity.

We hope that TechASEAN, by providing a unified platform that brings together information on the fragmented start-up ecosystems, will be useful to venture investors seeking to invest regionally, start-ups looking for partners and talents to scale across the region, and various start-up ecosystem service providers seeking to build pan-ASEAN presence.

TechASEAN can also serve as a natural platform for engaging the tech start-up community using online surveys and sentiment polls, with findings disseminated back to the community. It has the potential to be a dynamic platform for online community engagement as well as to generate and sustain cross-border conversations, leveraging on capabilities of the proprietary APEIRO technology. Developed by NUS Enterprise and Wonderlabs, APEIRO allows data to be easily analysed and presented.

Besides dynamically connecting world players, TechASEAN also seeks to recognise people and organisations with great talent. Linkage data collated in the TechASEAN database will be quantified and used to develop The Connectors 2019, the world’s first truly objective ranking of key influential ecosystem players in Singapore. The Connectors will be launched in September.

The platform was soft-launched on 18 July at an NUS Enterprise-organised event, “Start-up & Innovation Ecosystem and Opportunities in ASEAN” — part of the ongoing NUS Enterprise Summer Programme on Entreprenuership for undergraduate students. It currently comprises comprehensive data of the ecosystems of the Singapore and Indonesia economies. Over the next few years, NUS Enterprise will be extending the coverage to other countries including Vietnam, Thailand, The Philippines, Myanmar and Malaysia.