As part of its Project AsiaForward initiative, Alibaba Cloud has teamed up with tech ecosystem partners to celebrate the diverse achievements of tech-driven entities in Southeast Asia.
Known as AsiaStar 10×10, the initiative gives recognition to 100 companies, communities, and projects in ten categories across the region. Ten awardees were chosen for each category. The categories are:
- Trailblazers are Series B to pre-IPO companies that have played an essential role in driving technological innovation in the region.
- Gamechangers made moves that set precedents or broke records in Southeast Asia.
- Growth includes early-stage startups that are developing unique and innovative products and solutions, and have raised funds up to Series B.
- Enablers are SaaS companies that provide crucial support to enterprises of every stripe.
- Explorers are Chinese startups that have successfully ventured into the region and established a strong presence.
- Open Source highlights projects that have accelerated the region’s digitalization by giving other entities the tools they need to build new applications.
- Frontiers includes startups that are developing deeply technical products, such as quantum computing, biotech and medical advancements, space tech, and more.
- Impact comprises startups that have brought about significant grassroots-level advancements where they operate.
- Investors are the equity firms that provide the fuel startups need to grow, and are evaluated for the impact they showcase.
- Launchpads are educational institutions, incubators, and accelerators that have provided safe environments to nurture great startups.
The awardees were selected from the list of final nominees curated by representatives of Alibaba Cloud, government agencies, investors, industry experts, and media outlets. They considered a variety of factors, such as revenue, funding, impact, uniqueness, potential, and more.
These are the final awardees for each category:
Series B to pre-IPO companies that have played an essential role in driving technological innovation in the region
- Aerodyne — A DT3 (Drone tech, data tech, and digital transformation) solutions provider, Aerodyne has operations in 35 countries and manages the infrastructure assets of over 300,000 clients, making it the world’s second-largest drone service company. Its Drone as a Service (DaaS) program helps to scale projects such as infrastructure planning and risk identification by collecting data with drones and processing it via AI analysis.
- Kumu — Not only the first Filipino app to be the top-grossing social app in the Philippines according to App Annie, Kumu is also one of the highest-grossing social apps in the world, ranking among the top ten in multiple markets including Canada, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, Hong Kong, and Singapore app stores. This social media platform gives users the chance to win cash in various game shows and campaign engagements, as well as helps content creators convert engagement into income via e-commerce, virtual gifting, and advertising. Notably, they teamed up with ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother, one of the biggest reality shows on Filipino television, to launch a new season. Since then, they have amassed over 10 million registered users.
- NinjaVan — NinjaVan’s well-established end-to-end logistics network spans Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, connecting over 1.5 million active shippers with close to 100 million recipients. It is the only last-mile courier with almost 100% service coverage in Southeast Asia, from tier-1 cities to almost all remote villages. The company’s new Fantastic Service Recovery (FSR) approach to the parcel delivery process involves using a new ecosystem, with the launch of new cloud products and processes to efficiently resolve parcel-related issues. Just last year, NinjaVan also opened its biggest facility, an 80,000-square-foot automated parcel sorting hub in Singapore. The company is now valued at USD 1.85 billion.
- ShopBack — ShopBack provides shoppers with cashback services from online stores, serving over 30 million shoppers in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia, and South Korea. The company matches brands with customers wanting to receive cashback rewards and other types of discounts.
- Sunday — Sunday adopts AI and machine learning technology to underwrite its motor insurance and employee health benefits product, including dynamic data models to automate pricing and scale its underwriting process for complex risks. Originally based in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday has now expanded into Indonesia.
- GrowSari — GrowSari is digitizing small physical retail stores, called sarisari, with features like pricing tools, inventory management, and working capital loans. In addition to providing affordable, on-demand inventory as well as working capital loans, GrowSari’s platform also generates crucial data and insights into the operations of these stores for manufacturers and distributors to build their strategies and campaigns upon. So far, GrowSari has helped more than 100,000 stores in over 220 municipalities across the Philippines’ Luzon island. The company has also expanded to other parts of the country like Visayas, and aims to launch in Mindanao soon.
- eFishery — eFishery offers an integrated end-to-end platform providing fish and shrimp farmers access to technology, feed, financing, and markets. The company started out by offering fish and shrimp farmers in Indonesia a digitally-controlled ‘smart feeder’ which offers automatic feeding coinciding with a mobile app where farmers can input variables such as fish and shrimp type, feed quantity and pellet size, feeding frequency, and feeding schedule. Since launching in 2013, eFishery has deployed thousands of its smart feeders to more than 30,000 fish and shrimp farmers across 27 of Indonesia’s 34 provinces.
- MoMo — MoMo focuses on open banking and application programming interface development. The company’s primary product includes a mobile app that allows customers to conduct transactions directly from their mobile devices for payments at schools, hospitals, gas stations, and other vendors. MoMo is the largest e-wallet in Vietnam. It also provides services in China, Indonesia, and other countries.
- Kopi Kenangan — An Indonesian coffee chain, Kopi Kenangan serves affordable brews made with local ingredients and recipes. The company, which employs a ‘Grab & Go’ model, delivers most orders through its app, making it a convenient alternative to traditional coffee houses. Kopi Kenangan has established its presence on online delivery platforms such as GoFood and GrabFood, which provided a steady flow of business throughout the pandemic. It also boasts its own mobile application, which is the top-rated and most downloaded coffee app in Indonesia.
- Jirnexu — Jirnexu develops digital acquisition and lifecycle management solutions for banks, insurance companies, and service providers. Solutions developed by Jirnexu are known to offer expansive reach, lower acquisition costs, and added convenience for customers. Reduction in acquisition costs enables its clients to pass on savings to their customers, making financial services more accessible. Jirnexu is the parent company of three main products: RinggitPlus, KreditGoGo, and XpressApply.
Company moves that set precedents or broke records in Southeast Asia
- Grab’s public market debut on NASDAQ — Grab went public on NASDAQ through a landmark deSPAC deal in December 2021, allowing the superapp to raise USD 4.5 billion in cash proceeds. Grab’s listing is the largest U.S. listing so far by a Southeast Asian company, and the milestone was celebrated with the first-ever NASDAQ Opening Bell Ceremony held in Southeast Asia, marking an inspirational and mind-blowing event in the region.
- Bukalapak’s IPO — At the time of its listing, Bukalapak claimed the largest IPO in IDX’s history. It is Indonesia’s first tech unicorn that got listed on the stock exchange, raising USD 1.5 billion in August 2021. Bukalapak’s stock price rose almost 25% only minutes after the market was opened on its debut day. The rise boosted the company’s valuation to around USD 7.5 billion.
- Merger deal between Gojek and Tokopedia — Grab’s biggest competitor in ID merged with ecommerce provider Tokopedia in May 2021 to allow for a move to become a super app in the biggest merger deal in Indonesia. The company debuted on IDX in Apr 2022, raising USD 1.1 billion. As an entity, GoTo contributes 2% to the country’s GDP, more than USD 1.8 billion in transactions, and has over 100 million monthly active users.
- GCash’s explosive growth — With COVID-19 accelerating the demand for online payment options, Mynt’s payment app GCash has grown rapidly. In November 2021, GCash raised USD 300 million at a valuation of USD 2 billion. This effectively made Mynt a double unicorn based in the Philippines. As of May 2022, the e-wallet company managed to have 55 million registered users and 4.5 million partner merchants on its network. In 2021, GCash facilitated more than PHP 3 trillion (USD 51.5 billion) in gross transactions, and had 23 million daily logins in the year.
- Avant Meats’s Series A funding round — Avant Meats is China’s first meat cultivation biotechnology firm. It is the only company in Asia to develop cultivated meat for food, skin care, and cosmetics using its proprietary technology that produces zero-residue protein directly from fish cells, according to DealStreetAsia. In June 2022, the cell-based seafood firm raised USD 10.8 million in a series A funding round.
- TiNDLE’s global expansion — Launched in October 2020, Singapore-headquartered food tech startup Next Gen has been making waves in the plant-based business environment. Next Gen’s plant-based chicken consumer brand TiNDLE has enjoyed success in a number of international markets including the United States, UK, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, and Dubai. TiNDLE is now available in over 500 restaurants on four continents.
- 2C2P acquired by Ant Financial — 2C2P is a full-suite payment platform helping the world’s leading enterprises securely accept and make payments through one point of integration. Through the strategic partnership announced in April 2022, 2C2P’s extensive pool of merchants—inclusive of global and regional brands—will be connected with Alipay+, extending its current 250 payment options to include even more e-wallets and local payment methods. With this, merchants will benefit from a wider geographical reach, connecting seamlessly to over one billion consumers globally.
- VinFast EVs’s expansion into North America — In July 2021, VinFast began operations in the US, Canada, France, Germany, and the Netherlands in preparation for its launch in those markets, moving closer towards its goal of becoming a global smart electric car company. The company has stated that Phase 1 of the North Carolina plant should reach an output of 150,000 vehicles per year. When scheduled production begins in July 2024, the North Carolina site will join VinFast’s current facility in Haiphong, Vietnam, which should have the capacity to produce 950,000 vehicles per year by 2026.
- Society Pass’s listing on NASDAQ — Society Pass (Nasdaq: SOPA) is a loyalty and data marketing ecosystem in Vietnam that operates multiple e-commerce and lifestyle platforms across its key markets, including Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia. It raised USD 26 million in its IPO. The stock opened for trading at a price of USD 9 per share on November 9, 2021. The IPO made waves as it was the first time a Vietnamese firm had completed a traditional listing on an overseas stock market. Post-IPO, the company intends to expand its e-commerce ecosystem throughout the rest of SEA and South Asia with a particular focus on the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh.
- PropertyGuru’s listing on NYSE — On March 18, 2022, PropertyGuru was listed via the completion of a business combination with the SPAC Bridgetown 2 backed by billionaires Peter Thiel and Richard Li. The company opens the door to increased opportunities across Southeast Asia’s fast-growing property market and will also enable global investors to access this high-growth market.
Early-stage startups that are developing unique and innovative products and solutions, and have raised funds up to Series B
- ProfilePrint — ProfilePrint is a food ingredient search engine platform powered by a patented AI fingerprint technology. It can predict the quality and profile of a food sample within seconds by enabling sellers and buyers to ascertain the agreed quality of a food ingredient in an online transaction without the need for physical samples. ProfilePrint has deployed its solution globally to Europe, Africa, Latin America, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. In February 2022, the company declared that it recorded accelerated growth with four times more clients compared to a year ago, driven by strong demand for its AI solution.
- SariSuki — SariSuki acts as a consolidator of grocery items for their “KaSari” (community leaders) who in turn own virtual “sari-sari stores” that sell the goods to consumers. SariSuki commits to an under-15-minute grocery delivery service within its covered areas. It has served more than 60,000 consumers through its growing number of community leaders, with operations extending across Greater Metro Manila Area, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and some parts of both Rizal and Pampanga in the Philippines. With growing disposable income, maturing digital connectivity, and sheer population size in key urban areas in the Philippines, SariSuki faces growth opportunities in the grocery e-commerce market.
- AiTreat — AiTreat developed a robot called EMMA, which stands for “expert manipulative massage automation.” It provides soft tissue therapeutic treatment to patients. EMMA is equipped with sensors to measure muscle stiffness and uses 3D vision technology to analyze the patient’s body. Based on the information processed by its artificial intelligence, the robot can determine the best course of action for patients and perform the massage. The company now runs eight clinics that deploy 13 EMMAs in Singapore.
- Rovula — Rovula is a subsea robotics developer building new machines for subsea inspection, repair, and maintenance. While conventional methods of subsea inspection and maintenance are costly in terms of money and time, Rovula’s products, including unmanned vessels and a data platform, can cut those costs by 50%.
- Duckie Land — Duckie Land is a multiplatform GameFi project built for a VR experience with multiplayer mode. Duckie Land gives gamers ownership of in-game assets and allows them to increase their value by actively playing the game. By participating in the in-game economy, players will receive rewards and create more value for other users and the ecosystem. The rewards for these digital assets include cryptocurrencies and in-game resources that are tokenized on the blockchain.
- Eatcosys — Eatcosys is an F&B and retail technology solution provider to help businesses transform and reinvent their business models. It offers over ten services and solutions including catering and event venue booking, food delivery, loyalty and retail management solutions, food search insights, venture capital, and money lending to local businesses. Examples of their solutions include FoodAdvisor, MyCookingStory, and FeedMyGuest.
- GlobalTrack Smart Logistics — GlobalTrack Smart Logistics is a platform that aims to help SMEs to track and manage their fleet operations safely and effectively through remote GPS monitoring. Its delivery management and fleet telematics systems are able to help fleet owners to monitor their logistic operations, fleet vehicles, and drivers in real-time, minimizing vehicle downtime and ensuring timely maintenance for the avoidance of potential malfunctions.
- PolicyStreet — PolicyStreet offers a digital platform that allows consumers and businesses to purchase insurance products and services in a more affordable and accessible manner. It currently has 40 insurance partners, served more than 250,000 people, and empowered them with more than 50,000 insurance policies.
- Speedwork Autocare — Speedwork Autocare is a platform that serves as a one-stop center for auto parts and vehicle maintenance services while connecting online consumers with workshop operators. The company aims to bridge the gap between online purchasing and offline repairing work, with an emphasis on customer relationship management. It provides an end-to-end digital ecosystem, creating a seamless online-to-offline vehicle maintenance experience. According to its website, Speedwork has 40,000+ registered partner stores worldwide. It also has strategic partnerships with companies such as Grab, Shell, Petronas, and BonusLink to provide genuine maintenance products to customers.
- KAMEREO — With its digital platform, KAMEREO connects farmers and B2B merchants directly. As a result, they help increase income for farmers, offer better prices for B2B merchants, and lower food wastage that occurs in the supply chain. The company currently has around 200 members and has seen its business scaled up ten times YoY.
SaaS companies that provide crucial support to enterprises of every stripe
- aCommerce — aCommerce is an end-to-end enabler that helps to scale online businesses. The platform has 100+ APIs from world-class technology partners and 170+ e-commerce clients, and is trusted by 13 of the top 100 global brands. Since commencing operations, aCommerce has connected e-commerce clients with over 11.6 million end-consumers. The company serves 13 global brands among the 100 Most Valuable Global Brands in 2021. It has provided localized e-commerce business solutions for global brands such as L’Oréal Group, Adidas, Abbott, Unilever, Nescafé, and more.
- ADVANCE.AI — ADVANCE.AI is an AI company helping to solve digital transformation, fraud prevention, and process automation for enterprise clients. The company has over 1,000 enterprise clients across banking, financial services, fintech, payment, retail, and e-commerce sectors. Key clients include Standard Chartered, Bank BTPN, KEB Hana Bank, Bank Jago, Shopee, and Indonesia’s GoTo group.
- Dropee — Dropee hosts over 80,000 SME businesses procured wholesale inventories in its marketplace, annually totaling more than USD 100 million in transaction value. In the five years since its launch, Dropee has established itself as one of the fastest-growing B2B wholesale SaaS-enabled marketplaces in Southeast Asia with a market presence in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. On top of its SaaS and marketplace businesses, Dropee has also expanded its product line to support loan and financing deployment. The company has built a successful track record with credit financing portfolios over the past year and is ready to scale its offering by working with strategic partners, including regional banks and non-banking financial institutions.
- Mekari — An Indonesia-based SaaS startup, the company has more than 35,000 clients and 800,000 active users. Mekari is the parent brand of Talenta, Jurnal, Qontak, Klikpajak, and Flex. The company has recorded 11x growth between 2018 and 2022.
- NexMind — NexMind provides cloud-based and algorithmic solutions based on artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and deep learning. The company has served over 350 clients, including notable companies such as Panasonic, Sogo, Volkswagen, OCBC Bank, UOB, Zurich Insurance, and more. In addition to existing markets in Southeast Asia, North America, Europe, Oceania, Japan, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, NexMind is also considering an entry into the Middle East in 2022.
- PatSnap — PatSnap is used by more than 10,000 customers in over 40 countries around the world to access market, technology, competitive intelligence, as well as patent insights needed to take products from ideation to commercialization. Its clients include Tesla, Dyson, Spotify, Oxford University Innovation, and The Dow Chemical Company.
- Peddlr — Peddlr helps small businesses manage their sales, inventory, accounting, and reports through their mobile devices. The company’s app has seen more than 350,000 downloads across the Apple, Google, and Huawei app stores via just word-of-mouth. About 65% of Peddlr’s users are sari-sari store owners, barber shops, salons, wet market vendors, wholesalers, bakeries, and even ice cream vendors from all the Philippines’ 900+ cities and municipalities. According to Peddlr, its user base experienced organic exponential growth and has grown over 16 times since its launch in July 2021. Their goal is to have a million users by the end of 2022.
- Sprout Solutions — Sprout Solutions is a software company that automates payroll, HR, and recruitment processes for businesses in the Philippines. The company has more than 1,000 clients across various industries, including Dole, TOA Global, Canva, IQVIA, MiraMed, KMC, Incenter Technology, and Intellicare.
- Wiz.ai— Wiz.ai, a humanized voice AI technology provider, currently has 200 clients across banking, insurance, fintech, telecommunications, e-commerce, healthcare, and the public sector. The company has offices in Singapore, Nanjing, and Jakarta. Wiz.ai is set to grow its revenue and customers 10x in 2022, with plans for global expansion to Australia, America, and Mexico as the next step.
- Xendit — Xendit is a payment infrastructure platform that supports businesses of all sizes in Southeast Asia, from individual sellers all the way to growth-stage startups and large enterprises. It currently has more than 3,000 customers, including Traveloka, Transferwise, and Grab. Xendit has been growing fast, with its revenue having grown at an annual rate of 700% over the past five years.
Chinese startups that have successfully ventured into the region and established a strong presence
- PingCAP — Backed by the open-source community and public cloud facility, PingCAP creates a business ecosystem that knows no boundaries. Since 2019, the company has landed its service in the United States, Japan, Europe, and Southeast Asia, counting top-notch enterprises in every market as its clientele. PingCAP is on its way to establishing itself as an open-source infrastructure provider that boosts digital transformation for global businesses.
- Cyclone — Founded in 2015, Cyclone integrates AI, NLP, and other technologies to launch its RPA robotics solution that includes a software automation platform, a cloud-native platform, and digital transformation services. In the past three years, Cyclone has expanded its footprint not only to the Greater China region but also to Japan and Southeast Asia. The company maintained an average annual growth rate of over 400%. In 2021, Cyclone set the record for the amount of single-round fundraising in the RPA industry.
- Dianxiaomi — Dianxiaomi has built a SaaS product matrix that integrates functions such as enterprise resource planning, third-party warehousing, customer service, and logistics tracking, providing a variety of tools for cross-border e-commerce sellers on various platforms. Dianxiaomi collaborates with more than 50 e-commerce platforms, connecting over 1,600 logistics providers and 80 overseas warehouses. It has local teams in the United Kingdom, Indonesia, and Malaysia, among other countries, and serves 1.5 million global users, with its annual order transaction amount exceeding RMB 350 billion (USD 48 billion).
- Agora — Founded in 2014, Agora is the leading pioneer of the global Real-Time Interactive RTE-PaaS Cloud. Its global audio and video communication services span more than 20 sectors, enabling enterprises from social live streaming, online education, games, VR/AR/IoT, insurance, telehealth, and team collaboration to use their business solutions in over 200 application scenarios. Agora now provides real-time interactive technology and operational support in more than 200 countries, covering 43.2% of the world’s mobile apps with audio or video functions.
- J&T Express — J&T Express started in the Southeast Asia market in 2015, before it evolved into a comprehensive logistics service operator in just seven years. Not only does J&T Express lead the pack in the fast-growing Southeast Asian market and in the massive Chinese market, its express delivery network now has a global presence in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. In total, J&T Express has terminal networks in 13 countries and serves more than 2.5 billion people globally.
- SUNMI— Based on the quality products and advanced business model developed in its domestic market, SUNMI, the smart IoT devices and digital solutions provider, leverages its capability to digitize local economies overseas. As of 2022, SUNMI has set up branches in 15 countries, with over 3 million monthly active devices in more than 200 countries and regions. The company accounts for 61.8% of the non-financial handheld device market share worldwide.
- Hago — Hago is a multiplayer social interactive product that enhances the metaverse and 3D avatar interactive socialization applications. The company pioneers a variety of social gameplay such as livestreaming, interactive games, and multiplayer voice chat. In April 2018, Hago was launched in 33 countries and quickly became popular among the younger local generation. For several months, Hago topped the list of the most popular apps in some countries, such as Indonesia and Vietnam.
- Mobvista — Since its establishment in 2013, Mobvista has been providing advertising and marketing technology services for customers from gaming, e-commerce, social networking, and local lifestyle services. Its ecosystem of SaaS tools helps clients create, promote, and monetize their businesses and manage data generated through consumer traffic. Mobvista has nearly 1,000 employees across 17 locations including Guangzhou, Beijing, Hong Kong, San Francisco, London, Singapore, and New Delhi, serving more than 7,000 Internet companies in 112 countries and processing a daily average of 200 billion online ad requests.
- 37GAMES — 37GAMES is a publicly listed game company that has published a variety of games for players in more than 200 countries and regions including Europe, the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia. The company has been moving up in the rankings of overseas revenue earned by Chinese game enterprises, securing the #3 spot in 2021. 37GAMES acquired more than 55 million new registered users in 2021, with a monthly record of over 8.5 million active users.
- TapTap — TapTap is a platform built for gamers around the world to expand their gaming experience. With TapTap, gamers can discover incredible games they never knew existed across all gaming platforms while being a part of a global community of dedicated gamers and game developers. As of June 2022, TapTap has an average of 9 million monthly active users from over 170 countries and regions. The number of TapTap’s daily active users continues to multiply in major markets such as the United States, Japan, Germany, and Italy.
Projects that have accelerated the region’s digitalization by giving other entities the tools they need to build new applications
- ABYRES — ABYRES Group has developed strategic alliances with partners in hardware and software information technology solutions to provide customers with a comprehensive product and services portfolio. These relationships benefit customers through the ability to serve specific needs from a broad base of targeted products and/or service capabilities.
- Bluzelle — Bluzelle is a blockchain for the gamification of finance (GameFi). It helps to produce high-quality games, protect players’ NFTs, and leverage DeFi yields with its 10,000 TPS cosmos-based blockchain. It has launched the world’s first Data Delivery Network, taking on global market leaders to meet the increasing demand for data delivery. Having worked with Electronic Arts, Nintendo, and Zynga, Bluzelle is well-positioned to become a leader in the world of GameFi. Bluzelle’s blockchain service has won many customers, including Maybank, AIA, Sumitomo Mitsui Insurance, and Desjardins. At the same time, it has established strategic partnerships with Microsoft and British Telecom, among other organizations.
- LottieFiles — LottieFiles simplifies the workflow for creating animation in software like Adobe After Effects by allowing app designers to preview how their animation looks in the app and then ship it without hours of coding. LottieFiles has been used by animation and motion designers at 150,000 companies, including Google, TikTok, Disney, Uber, Airbnb, and Netflix.
- MAPID — MAPID is a geographic information system platform that connects various kinds of location data from trusted sources, and connects all users through real-time mapping collaboration. The company’s products have been used by more than 20 different industries, including transit-oriented development, logistics, citizen journalism, healthcare distribution, and public policy.
- NukeViet — NukeViet is the first open source Content Management System (CMS) in Vietnam. The latest version, NukeViet 3.0, provides ground-up coding support for the latest web technologies, including xHTML, CSS 3, XTemplate, jQuery, and Ajax. It enables users to build websites and online applications rapidly, as well as provides packing features that allow users to share modules with the web community.
- Somleng — Somleng is a collection of open-source tools that provide a full-stack cloud communications platform. Carriers can use Somleng to offer programmable voice and SMS services to their customers. It is being used in an early warning system in Cambodia.
- SpaceChain — Based in Singapore, SpaceChain is building an open and neutral infrastructure for the New Space Economy by integrating space and blockchain technologies. It established the first satellite platform to provide secure custody, transact digital assets, deploy smart contracts, and facilitate Decentralized Finance Infrastructure (DFI) on space nodes. SpaceChain aims to enable advanced security and global access, integrating software-defined payloads to progress blockchain applications in orbit.
- Supabase — Supabase bills itself as an open-source alternative to services like Google’s Firebase. Its service offers many of the core features that developers need to get started, including a database, storage, and authentication services. The company saw rapid growth in 2021 with a community that has now grown to more than 80,000 developers and the creation of over 100,000 databases on the service.
- Unicorn — Unicorn is a lightweight multi-platform, multi-architecture CPU emulator framework. It has been used by 125 products, such as Qiling (a cross-platform, multi-architecture lightweight sandbox), UniDOS (a Microsoft DOS emulator), and Pwndbg (a Python plugin of GDB to assist exploit development).
- UniKey — UniKey is the most popular keyboard program for the Vietnamese language, and can be found on almost every Windows PC used by Vietnamese people. The core engine UniKey Vietnamese Input Method is open source and was first released as a part of the x-unikey Vietnamese keyboard for Linux in 2001. Since then, the engine has been integrated with input methods for different software frameworks, including all iOS devices that have Vietnamese input functions.
Startups that are developing deeply technical products, such as quantum computing, biotech and medical advancements, space tech, and more
- Baiya Phytopharm — Baiya Phytopharm is a plant-based pharmaceutical company utilizing BaiyaPharming™ protein expression platform to produce recombinant molecular proteins from tobacco leaves. The platform has the flexibility to produce biopharmaceutical products within weeks rather than months or years, which results in faster results and fewer costs in R&D. These biological products of interest can be active ingredients in cosmetics, diagnostic test kits, drugs, or even vaccines.
- Cortical Labs — Cortical Labs grows biological computer chips by incorporating human neurons in processors. Named Dishbrain, this “brain on a chip” is meant to eventually take over tasks that can be automated. Dishbrain may also have applications in the robotics field, with its ability to process the vast amounts of input data that a robot may encounter in real-life scenarios.
- EyRIS — EyRIS uses an AI deep learning system to detect eye diseases. Its first DLS solution, SELENA+, performs automated image analysis for eye diseases such as diabetes retinopathy, with add-ons for glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. The company can also provide tele-ophthalmology services.
- Gero — Gero uses AI to develop new drugs that can slow down aging and cure diseases. Its AI technology can identify rare mutations sufficiently affecting health from real-world big clinical, genetic, and molecular data. It then suggests druggable targets and uses drugs to reduce or minimize the effect of the mutation to treat the disease.
- MiRXES — MiRXES pioneered a highly sensitive, specific, and robust detection technology for microRNA (miRNA) in the early 2000s. The company brought its technology from laboratory to clinic. In 2019, MiRXES launched GASTROClear, the world’s first microRNA blood test for the early detection of gastric cancer. The technology platform invented by MiRXES covers the entire workflow, from product design to manufacturing and clinical. The platform is designed in a way that can be applied to almost any other type of disease as long as the biological parameters make sense.
- Nusantics — Nusantics analyzes microbiomes to create biomedical solutions that fulfill consumer needs. It is the only genome tech startup in Indonesia. The startup first introduced its technology to the beauty industry. Its Nusantics Hub performs a facial swab test for consumers to assess and score the skin’s microbiome diversity. Aside from cultivating beauty products and services, Nusantics plans to work with stakeholders in the health and education sectors to produce test kits for analyzing and monitoring microbiome profiles.
- SpeQtral — SpeQtral is developing space-based quantum systems for the global delivery of secure encryption keys. The SpeQtral team is known for being the first and only team in the world that has demonstrated a miniaturized source of entangled photons in space. In November 2021, SpeQtral closed a USD 8.3 million financing led by Xora Innovation, an early-stage deep science investment platform of Temasek. The funds will be used to expand SpeQtral’s regional and international presence, establish strategic business partnerships, hire top talent, support the commercial rollout of terrestrial systems, and further develop its satellite-based systems.
- Transcelestial — Transcelestial is a laser communications startup that provides a point-to-point wireless communication network. Its infrastructure, requiring zero spectrum costs or right-of-way, combines 10 Gbps speed with the security of fiber optic cables. With a space laser network, it can potentially replace wireless networks and deliver high-speed internet anywhere on earth, potentially benefiting four billion people globally who do not have internet access.
- WIR Group — WIR Group aims to enhance the metaverse for everyone through developing Web 3.0 software solutions using digital reality technology (AR, VR, AI). It provides creative advertising services using AR technology to interact with consumers and provides a virtual retail store network to facilitate offline retail outlets. WIR Group currently has 5 global patents for AR which are registered nationally as well as in the Patent Cooperation Treaty which covers 153 countries.
- Yobite — Yobite uses Freeze Dried Technology to produce dried yogurt, and is the first company in Vietnam to successfully do so. It utilizes a few technologies such as fermenting technology, food technology, and freeze-dried technology. The company participated in Startup Wheel 2022 and emerged in the top ten. It also came in first place in the “Agricultural Innovation 2021” hosted by the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Agriculture.
Startups that have brought about significant grassroots-level advancements where they operate
- Agrabah Ventures — Agrabah Ventures creates better opportunities for Filipino farmers and fishermen by providing a stable market channel that connects them directly with consumers and ensures that their produce is purchased at a fair price. It arranges the delivery of agricultural produce from farming communities to enterprises through a seamless digital experience of automated logistics bookings. The company works with more than 5,000 farmers and fishermen nationwide across the Philippines. They have expanded from being an online farm-to-market platform into a community where farmers and fishermen are provided with current market awareness, skills training, and income-generating connections, as well as access to agricultural technologies and financial loans.
- Amaan — Amaan aims to empower women microentrepreneurs across Indonesia by providing them with an integrated sharia digital platform. The platform offers aid via both financial and non-financial solutions, such as access to loans and savings accounts, learning content, health consultations, bookkeeping tools, and everything needed to manage both a business and a household.
- Bidanku — Bidanku, which translates to “My Midwife” in Bahasa Indonesia, empowers and supports midwives and mothers in rural Indonesia through AI. Midwives are key providers of maternal and child health services in Indonesia’s small towns and rural communities, providing care and support for women during pregnancy and labor. Bidanku gives midwife practitioners a way to manage their schedules and patient records. It also has a feature that automates the reporting process with public health centers, so that monthly reports can be submitted online with ease. Bidanku can also notify midwives when there’s a high-priority patient, such as a pregnant woman with special needs. The app also sends nudges to patients for their follow-up visits, as well as sends tailored educational information to patients. Since launching in July 2021, the app has more than 6,000 midwives registered.
- Magorium — Magorium is a deep-tech startup with a solution to the world’s plastic waste problem. Through advanced processes and equipment, their technology converts plastic waste into an innovative synthetic material, NEWBitumen. So far, Magorium has recycled 4,500 kg of plastic waste into NEWBitumen to build roads, and has reduced more than 1,000 kg of natural resources consumed for road construction.
- Mio — Mio is a group buying platform that focuses on selling fresh produce and groceries in Tier 2 and 3 cities in Vietnam. Its mission is to bring financial independence to women in lower-tier cities and rural areas by enabling them to become micro-entrepreneurs by acting as sales partners in community trade. According to the company, their resellers—made up of housewives and stay-at-home moms in lower-income regions—can make up to USD 400 a month, including a 10% commission on each order and additional commissions based on the monthly performance of other resellers they refer to the program.
- Saora Industries — Saora Industries utilizes affordable and green technology without compromising the environment, and making a positive impact on underprivileged and marginalized communities. According to Saora, it has purified 11,388,00 liters of water and helped 5200 beneficiaries across 42 initiatives and 24 project sites. The company works with partners such as Yayasan Siti Sapura, Hong Leong Foundation, and Yayasan Kemajuan Insan Sarawak to deliver clean and safe drinking water and basic electricity supply to communities in rural Peninsula and East Malaysia. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Saora invented the Ethovent semi-ventilator, an automated bagging machine that assists patients with breathing difficulties. It replaces the need for a handheld manual resuscitation device, which in turn reduces the workload of medical personnel. Saora Industries plans to distribute this low-cost automated smart ventilator to rural hospitals where medical supplies are severely lacking, as well as to every public clinic and hospital outside the Klang Valley.
- Sati App — Sati App is an on-demand peer support mental health app with the mission to create an army of empathetic listeners who are available around the clock for their users. The application links users to a trained volunteer listener as soon as one is needed. With a limited number of mental health professionals available, Sati App is tackling the lack of accessibility and affordability for mental health care in a low-resource setting. As of July 2022, Sati App had 7,460 users and 318 listeners.
- Super — Super works with local communities to address challenges in conventional retail and supply chain management in lower-tiered cities and rural areas, especially in East Java. Low purchasing power and a small transaction volume per household, combined with deficient infrastructure, cause prices to be higher in rural areas. Super aims to address this by using an agent-based model for group buying and logistics, so customers can pool purchases to make bulk orders and attain attractive prices. The company also runs warehouse management systems to optimize routes and track service level expectations among delivery partners.
- Umitron — Umitron is a Singapore and Japan-based deep tech company aiming to solve worldwide food and environmental problems by empowering aquaculture with technology to achieve a more sustainable footprint. Over the past few years, they have developed products exclusively for the aquaculture industry using a combination of IoT, satellite remote sensing, and AI technology. From its first solution that optimizes fish feeding to its most recent technology solution that offers real-time AI-based analytics solutions to shrimp producers, Umitron not only directly benefits aquafarmers but will also positively impact global seafood consumerism and the environment.
- Zennya — Zennya is a digital health and wellness platform that delivers on-demand or scheduled clinical-grade healthcare and wellness services, including corporate health management. It makes use of a mobile app booking system to provide users with easy access to its extensive list of digital health services from its own providers. Zennya aims to shift power to patients, skipping the usual costly and time-consuming consultation and lab referral process. The team hopes that removing some of the usual barriers to care will encourage Filipinos to be more proactive about their health.
Educational institutions, incubators, and accelerators that have provided safe environments to nurture great startups
- BLOCK71 (NUS) — An initiative by NUS Enterprise in partnership with government and corporate organizations, BLOCK71 is a community-based incubation program that provides mentorship and growth opportunities in local and global markets. Each startup is provided a unique experience, optimized based on the research capabilities and technologies of the university, and the investment and business acumen of its partners. The BLOCK71 initiative brings together these startups into a tech ecosystem that enables them to leverage NUS Enterprise’s network of resources and contacts and access mentoring support.
- CU Innovation Hub — Chulalongkorn University’s Innovation Hub organizes competitions and events to encourage and develop the creativity, critical thinking, and entrepreneurial skills of its students and staff. These include the Chula Innovation Club, which was opened in August 2022, and the Chimnovate Hackathon, which connects startups with industry experts and resources in the context of real-world challenges. Within CU Innovation Hub are several specialized initiatives, including CU Blockchain Society, the Co-founder Trainee Program, and ASEAN University Startup Bootcamp.
- Draper Startup House — Draper Startup House positions itself as a digital innovation studio and a members’ club for startups, offering funding opportunities for startups of all stages. It is host to a diverse pool of global angel investors, syndicates, VCs, and other startup investors. It also runs its own Academy, which offers opportunities to connect with experts from Silicon Valley and world-class mentors. Draper Startup House Accelerator has organized acceleration programs for three cohorts to date, with the fourth and fifth taking place in 2023.
- IMDA Innovation Team — The IMDA (Infocomm Media Development Authority) Innovation Team comprises both IMDA Pixel and IMDA Open Innovation Platform. PIXEL is an innovation space for corporates and start-ups to learn about the latest technology, and ideate, experiment, and build user-centric digital products. Within its 28,000 square foot (2,601.29 m²) space, it offers co-working spaces, AR/VR labs, one of Singapore’s four 5G test beds, a usability testing lab and prototyping spaces. The Open Innovation Platform helps to connect startups to their first corporate reference customers in a process that challenges them to tackle real-world business problems with a repository of tools and resources to facilitate them.
- Indigo — Created and run by Telkom Indonesia, Indigo is a startup incubator and accelerator that offers startups co-working spaces, funding of up to IDR 2 billion, and mentoring support from a pool of over 50 notable local and global mentors. Its Indigo Game Startup Incubation program is the first game industry incubator in Indonesia, offering game startups mentorship and support from the pre-production to pre-alpha testing stage.
- QBO Innovation Hub — QBO offers Philippine startups the opportunities to explore synergies with corporates, government, the academe, and other ecosystem stakeholders in awareness and education initiatives, as well as customized innovation programs. Via its incubation program INQBATION, startups gain access to capital, resources, mentorship, and opportunities to connect with investors. QBO is also the organizer of Startup Pinay, an initiative that aims to create a diverse and inclusive startup landscape in the Philippines by empowering women founders, leaders, enablers, and explorers.
- ScaleUp Malaysia — Scaleup Malaysia is an accelerator for companies looking to scale and grow, offering an MYR 200,000 (USD 42,185) investment for startups selected to take part in ScaleUp’s acceleration programs. ScaleUp educates founders and entrepreneurs that are building businesses with high revenue growth and helps them identify a path to profitability.
- SMU Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (SMU IIE) — SMU IIE provides incubatees with access to state-backed equity-free grants, mentorship support, and access to masterclasses and office hours organized by SMU IIE. SMU IIE also runs the Business Innovations Generator (BIG), a four-month coaching program designed to help early-stage founders validate their products and get ready for seed-stage investment. No equity is taken, and entrepreneurships that are unaffiliated with SMU can apply.
- UEH Institute of Innovation (UEH UII) — UEH UII organizes training courses and programs for entrepreneurship and innovation, suited for startup projects, small and medium enterprises, and organizations in general. The company also runs an innovation lab for research and tech transfer projects. UEH UII organizes incubation programs that last six months each, where incubatees are connected with a network of mentors and experts and provided with one-on-one training.
- UPSCALE Innovation Hub — UPSCALE is both an incubator and an accelerator. It runs three programs: UP Enterprise for pre-revenue startups, Ignite Innovation Lab for market-driven industry collaborations and product developments, and entreLEAD, a program to help venture-backed startups with traction to scale up. UPSCALE’s programs are co-run with the support of partners, including USAID and Deloitte.
Equity firms that provide the fuel startups need to grow, and are evaluated for the impact they showcase
- Alpha JWC — Alpha JWC Ventures is an Indonesia-based venture capital firm that invests in early-to-growth stage startups in Southeast Asia. It is one of the region’s largest and best-performing early-stage funds, with its AUM estimated to be worth USD 650 million. The firm invests in early-stage—or pre-seed, seed, and pre-Series A—and is often the first institutional investor on a startup’s cap table. Notably, Alpha JWC provides significant post-investment support to portfolio companies through its Alpha-X Academy initiative, covering four main areas: strategic communications, human capital planning, talent sourcing, and branding. Alpha JWC also drives the iGnite program, in partnership with universities and associations, to identify and nurture future founders with the passion to make an impact on society.
- East Ventures — East Ventures provides multi-stage investment for over 250 companies in Southeast Asia, recording more than USD 86 billion of annualized gross merchandise value in aggregate by its portfolio. East Ventures has had 30 exits, the most notable being Mercari, MokaPOS (acquired by Gojek), and Kudo (acquired by Grab). It is the first Indonesian venture capital firm to become an official PRI signatory, the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment supported by the United Nations.
- Gobi Partners — Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai, Gobi Partners has USD 1.5 billion in AUM to date, supporting entrepreneurs from the early to growth stages. It has raised 15 funds to date and has invested in over 320 startups. Gobi has also nurtured nine unicorns, namely Animoca, Amber, Prenetics, Carsome, AutoX, WeLab, GoGoX, Airwallex, and Esign. It supports its portfolio companies by providing management guidance, operational know-how, and access to its strategic partner network.
- iGlobe Partners — Founded in Silicon Valley in 1999, iGlobe Partners now has its headquarters in Singapore. Since its founding, the firm has managed funds exceeding USD 500 million for its investors. iGlobe’s panel of partners and advisors collectively bring decades of technology investment experience through multiple economic cycles. The team-oriented investment approach has benefited portfolio companies by bringing together partners with a strong and balanced combination of commercial, operational, financial, technology, and investment expertise.
- Kickstart Ventures — Kickstart Ventures is a wholly-owned corporate venture capital firm of Globe Telecom, the Philippines’ leading mobile operator. Today, Kickstart Ventures advises the Ayala Corporation Technology Innovation Venture (ACTIVE) Fund, the largest venture capital fund coming out of the Philippines at USD180 million. Kickstart Ventures connects tech innovators with industry experts within their network who can help startups further improve their practice, deepen their understanding of their industry, and broaden their network.
- Quest Ventures — Quest Ventures is headquartered in Singapore, with locations in China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, and the USA. It has invested in over 100 startups that operate in more than 150 cities across Asia, including 2 unicorns Carousell and Carro. Quest Ventures provides accelerator solutions, communities, mentoring, and talent recruitment to its portfolio companies.
- ThinkZone Ventures — ThinkZone Ventures focuses on Seed to Series A tech startups from diverse verticals, with investment sizes of up to USD 3 million. The company also invests in accelerator-stage startups with investment sizes ranging from USD 50,000 to USD 100,000. ThinkZone provides startups with support via ThinkZone Accelerator, which has the largest scale of support value in Vietnam. It helps startups gain exposure and access to partners via conferences, competitions, and international summits such as TECHFEST and Vietnam Ventures Summit.
- Venturra Capital — Venturra Capital focuses on Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and invests in early growth stage consumer technology-enabled companies, covering eCommerce, financial services, healthcare, and education sectors. It has raised a total of USD 150 million in a single venture fund, Venturra Capital Venture Fund, which was launched in 2015. Venturra provides capital, operational empowerment, and market access to founders of their portfolios.
- Vertex Ventures SEAI — Vertex Ventures SEAI has over USD 7 million in assets under management, with which it invests in startups at seed and series A or B rounds. It has made 81 investments and 12 exits so far, the most notable exits being Grab, Yatra, and GlowRoad. Vertex Ventures SEAI has also invested in five unicorns, namely Grab, Patsnap, FirstCry, Xpressbees, and Nium. The company works closely with startups and helps them with introductions to valuable contacts, hiring key management, planning and implementing go-to-market strategies, fundraising, and more.
- Vietnam Silicon Valley (VSV) Capital — The first Vietnamese accelerator and early-stage VC firm, VSV Capital has USD 7 million AUM. Since its inception, VSV Capital has made over 80 investment deals from pre-seed to Series B and had five exits including Base and CyHome. The company takes a hands-on approach and works with startups in all aspects of their businesses, including product development, financial modeling and customer development, talent recruitment, corporate governance, and fundraising.
The awardees will receive their accolades at the Apsara Conference, to be held on November 4, in China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. For more information, please visit the official website.