Forget Silicon Valley, Asean needs its own ecosystem
By Lum Ka Kay October 16, 2015
- Startups in 1AES expected to raise US$4.8mil worth of funds
- Malaysia hopes to take 1AES to the global level
SOUTH-East Asian entrepreneurs need to work together and drive the way the region does business, urged Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Secretary-General of the Treasury at Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance.
“As long as we work together, we too can create our own ecosystem in Asean (the Association of South-East Asian Nations).
“It doesn’t always have to be about Silicon Valley,” he said in his opening speech at the media preview of the 1Asean Entrepreneurship Summit (1AES) in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 15.
The week-long 1AES is being organised to bring together stakeholders and entrepreneurs throughout the Asean startup ecosystem to share ideas and best practices, and to develop solutions and partnerships that benefit the region.
The first was held in March, with the second to kick off in November.
Irwan argued that the Asean region, much like Silicon Valley, is not short of innovation and passionate entrepreneurs.
“Asean is a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship, and by providing a platform like this (1AES), we are enabling entrepreneurs from this region to take their business to new unchartered territory, and raising the success of Asean as a whole,” he added.
He also hinted that 1AES will be just the start, as he hoped Malaysia would be able to organise a global version next year.
“Perhaps (an event for the) global entrepreneur community, but I will let Prime Minister Najib Razak make the announcement,” Irwan said.
At least RM20 million (US$4.8 million) worth of funds are expected to be raised by startups taking part in 1AES, from both Malaysian and regional investors, according to 1AES co-chairperson Nadira Yusoff.
During the event, entrepreneurs would be able to get advice on areas such as market access, financial assistance, incubation and acceleration, product testing and commercialisation, she said.
“We understand that there are different types of entrepreneurs – there are digital, retail, and product startups which are looking for ways to grow their regional market,” said Nadira.
“They may not be able to do that within their capacity, so we are here to teach them how to harness technology and use 1AES as a platform to make their steps into the regional market,” she added.
1AES, which will be held from Nov 16-22, is expected to attract more than 8,000 participants from all over South-East Asia.
1AES goes hand-in-hand with the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre’s plan to attract foreign startups to be based in Malaysia.
The November 1AES will also see the participation of financial services players such as Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank).
“In fintech (financial services technology), there is still a lack of the participation from the industry itself, which are banks, as they feel threatened by the rise of all these new guys [startups],” said Maybank head of corporate development and innovation Amran Hassan.
“But I see this as an opportunity for me to work with them, to enhance our banking system and services,” he added.
Maybank is the sponsor of one of the categories in the inaugural Rice Bowl Startup Awards: The FinTech Business Startup of the Year.
The awards aim to recognise ‘breakout startups’ in the Asean region that harness digital technology.
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