You need to check out Southeast Asia’s thriving startup scene

When you think of connected regions, Southeast Asia could be a strong contender for the top of your list. As a child, I was in awe of the connections made possible between satellite communication dishes, rockets and beyond. That passion grew alongside my consultant work with AT&T on high-speed communication for private and public networks. Even today, these connections continue to break geographical barriers and change lives through 5G networks, video chats and other applications like telehealth.

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Worldwide connectivity paves the way for exciting innovation and new ideas, and the talent I’ve witnessed in Southeast Asia never ceases to amaze me. The mobile device penetration and engagement outpaces many other regions, which also provides a rich environment for 5G and future connectivity opportunities. According to research from Temasek and Google on Southeast Asia’s internet economy, local users spend an average of 3.6 hours per day using mobile internet, compared to 2.0 daily hours in the U.S. or 1.8 hours in the U.K.

The penetration of mobile device usage will mean that people rely on phones for more bandwidth and activities that they wouldn’t otherwise perform on mobile devices. In time, computing power will start to shift and move closer to the phones to meet these new behaviors and demands. The high rate of mobile engagement and the future shift in building resources presents a multibillion-dollar opportunity for startups and new enterprises in Southeast Asia, especially as Industry 4.0 applications come to fruition.

Not only does mobile device usage provide a wide opportunity for startups that wish to capitalize on the internet economy in the region, but the business climate provides several resources for entrepreneurs, as well. Although the majority of capital invested in Southeast Asia went to unicorns ($9 billion of the $12 billion invested since 2016, according to the Google-Temasek data), the region has business-supportive governments, eager talent and growing investment resources to aid small ventures. In addition to the launch of the Ericsson ONE Asia Challenge, a partnership between the National University of Singapore(NUS) and Ericsson, there are many active groups, conferences, meetups and other community initiatives to help entrepreneurs bring new ideas to life.

The business resources, skilled talent and mobile usage ecosystems complement other growing areas of innovation in Southeast Asian industry. Industry 4.0 and digital transformation are gaining traction as growing enterprises adopt artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), automation and other new technology to stay competitive on a global scale. We see enormous opportunity stemming from applications in autonomous vehicles, connected supply chain and logistics, and smart manufacturing. According to a report from the World Economic Forum, Singapore was one of the top 25 countries best positioned to benefit from a rise in smart manufacturing and advanced factories. As connected devices proliferate in the consumer and the industrial markets, Southeast Asia will witness new efficiencies from seamless communication and technology integration from beginning to end.

Because of my work with NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of NUS, I am particularly excited about the thriving startup ecosystem in Asia, and especially Southeast Asia and Singapore. Through community programs, corporate accelerators and innovation challenges with some of the largest global brands, we have worked with startups and students in our community on corporate challenges in Southeast Asia and beyond. The new startups and industries draw valuable attention to the innovators in Singapore and the region. Our startup ecosystem is listening, responding and growing, and the industry reaps the benefits of the technological innovations as a result.

Do you have a great idea for the next bold idea in smart manufacturing, autonomous vehicles or data monetization? Join the Ericsson ONE Challenge by submitting your idea before October 23. The top three winners will walk away with $30,000 USD and the opportunity to build a minimum viable product and trial with Ericsson.

This has been a guest post from Kelvin Tan, Deputy Director, NUS Enterprise

Kelvin Tan

Kelvin Tan, Deputy Director, NUS Enterprise

Kelvin leads the corporate partnerships role in NUS Enterprise and also heads up the Business Development in Smart Systems Institute (SSI). SSI has advanced data analytics and AI research partnerships with Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Southampton University and Keio University. Prior to joining NUS, he founded an interactive multimedia startup and held management positions in HP, AT&T, M1, ServTouch-WyWy and Telecoms Authority of Spore. Kelvin is a Phd Candidate (HKU) and Student Fellow (Sau Po Center for Ageing, HKU), and holds a Master in Gerontology (SUSS, Spore), MBA (Oklahoma City University) and BEng in Electronic and Communications (University of Manchester, UK).

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