by Cristina Lago

Southeast Asian startups to feature at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Vietnam

Sep 10, 2018
StartupsTechnology Industry

In the meeting, held in Hanoi on 11-13 September, the startups will discuss critical issues facing entrepreneurs, from finding finance to achieving regional scale with limited resources

80 Southeast Asian startups will feature at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN this week, according to a press release published on Saturday (8 September) by the international organisation.

The summit, which will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on 11-13 September, holds the theme ‘ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

The three-day session has been designed “to offer students and the general public an opportunity to discuss what their future might look like as technological disruption shapes ASEAN 4.0.”

“The theme of the meeting […] reflects the significant transformations and disruptions that are now unfolding across South East Asia,” said Justin Wood, Head of Asia Pacific and Member of the Executive Committee at the WEF.

“One of the important responses to the challenges raised by disruptive technologies is entrepreneurship. It is through innovation that the region will grow the companies, shape the policies and build the economic systems of the future.”

Of the nearly 300 startups from across Southeast Asia which applied to join the meeting, 80 were selected by a panel of judges from startup accelerators, venture capital funds, technology experts and media personalities.

Among the shortlisted startups are BookMeBus, an online bus ticketing booking system in Cambodia, Thailand’s social enterprise Socialgiver, and Design for a Dream, an Indonesian platform which advocates and supports children with disabilities.

The 80 startups represent an ample variety of sectors, including, but not exclusively, healthcare, ecommerce, agriculture and financial services.

The products and services they are developing range from smart fertilisers that reduce nitrous-oxide emissions (a potent greenhouse gas) to sharia-compliant bitcoins to new healthcare options for elderly care.

“We expect the startups to make an important contribution to shaping the debates at the meeting about the impact and course of new technologies and disruptive business models. We believe that they will enrich important discussions about how to upgrade innovation ecosystems and promote entrepreneurship,” noted Wood.

“The startups will also benefit from their interactions with the other 1,000 participants at the summit, including 90 government ministers and 600 business leaders from more established companies.”

During the meeting, the startups will be fully involved in the official programme but will also have their own dedicated programme track to discuss critical issues facing entrepreneurs, from finding finance to achieving regional scale with limited resources.

There will also be a dedicated hub for the startups to share their stories of disruption and transformation.

The press release states that once the meeting is over, the WEF hopes to establish a permanent community for the startups to support their growth and development.