BLOCK71 Jakarta takes off
The 1,500 sqm facility was set up to support innovation and entrepreneurship development for both Singapore and Indonesian companies. Opened since March 2017, BLOCK71 Jakarta is already home to about 20 start-ups, half of which are from Singapore.
Pslove, a Singapore start-up founded by NUS alumni Ms Tan Pek Ying and Mr Caleb Leow, is using BLOCK71 Jakarta as a springboard to bring its products to the Indonesian market of over 260 million people. Pslove’s heat therapy products address back and neck pain as well as menstrual cramps.
“BLOCK71 Singapore has been our home from the beginning and BLOCK71 Jakarta is an extension of this indispensable community. Basing ourselves here will not only help us enter the Indonesian market quickly, but also benefit from the cross pollination of local experience,” said Ms Tan.
The launch of BLOCK71 Jakarta in Indonesia was officiated by Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, and Mr Enggartiasto Lukita, Indonesia’s Minister of Trade. Mr Lim said, “BLOCK71 Jakarta will be a launchpad for Singapore entrepreneurs and innovators to build ties with the Indonesian start-up community, and explore opportunities to work together. This is an example of what we hope to achieve with a network of partners to build a Global Innovation Alliance, which was a recommendation by the Singapore Committee on the Future Economy earlier this year. This Indonesia-Singapore partnership is also a timely one, given that 2017 marks the 50th year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia. We hope BLOCK71 Jakarta will foster a healthy two-way exchange of ideas, innovation, and expertise between Singapore and Indonesia.”
Start-ups at BLOCK71 Jakarta like pslove will get to pilot and test business ideas and technologies in the Indonesian market; participate in entrepreneurial activities organised by NUS Enterprise, such as business competitions, validation programmes, talks and conferences; as well as leverage on its global network.
Dr Lily Chan, CEO of NUS Enterprise said, “Ultimately, NUS Enterprise is a global connector, linking investors, entrepreneurs and business partners into a network, in the process creating a richer ecosystem and business opportunities for the start-up community in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.”
Speaking on the genesis of BLOCK71 Jakarta, Dr Chan explained that NUS Enterprise has developed strong links with the start-up ecosystems in the US and Europe through its NUS Overseas Colleges programme, and wanted to add Asia to its global connector vision. Indonesia with its potentially large market was a good start.
The idea to incubate start-ups from Singapore and Indonesia in a central space appealed to the Salim Group, she added, as it could lead to innovation which its group of companies can tap on. Salim Group is a major company in Indonesia, with diversified business interests spanning industries like food, distribution and retail, telecommunications, real estate and manufacturing.
The Group provided the facility which is based in Kuningan, an area popular with Jakarta’s burgeoning technology community. NUS Enterprise provided the “software” — its experience and expertise in curating and organising activities for the start-up community as well as support programmes to help entrepreneurs kick-start and develop new ideas.
Both parties are interested in cultivating a vibrant and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem and build bridges for business development in Indonesia and beyond, said Dr Chan.
Salim Group executive director, Mr Axton Salim, said, “We have embarked upon this initiative as we want to support entrepreneurs as well as encourage new developments in Indonesia. The Salim Group’s networks and experience will facilitate the entry of start-ups and innovations to the local market and benefit the community here.”
BLOCK71 Jakarta is part of a global connector network, linking up BLOCK71 in Singapore and San Francisco in the US, as well as a new centre in Suzhou, China, which will be set up in the near future. The goal is to create corridors through which Singaporean innovators can explore market opportunities abroad. In turn, foreign companies including start-ups would know more about Singapore and expand their businesses to Southeast Asia.
Other start-ups that are part of BLOCK71 Jakarta include digital telecommunications operator Circles.Life; online marketplace for car buyers and sellers Carro; a digital entertainment network for short movies Viddsee; 8villages, an Indonesian social enterprise set on empowering rural communities; and HelloBill from Indonesia which has developed an industry-specific, mobile cloud, point-of-sales system, to help SMEs to manage their businesses better.
Mr Ponky Sutanto, CEO and Co-founder of HelloBill said, “BLOCK71 Jakarta is not just an ideal workplace for HelloBill, it is also a place where we interact within a vibrant community in which we can share knowledge and attend insightful events in the IT start-up industry.”
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By Grace Chng, a veteran tech writer who has been covering innovation and entrepreneurship since the first dotcom era in the 1990s.