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07 Dec 2020 Updated 08 Dec 2020

ESG launches inaugural SEA Open Innovation Challenge at SWITCH 2020

The Edge Lim Hui Jie

Startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will get the opportunity to work on wide-ranging challenge statements in Media, Retail, Consumer Tech, Fintech, Proptech and Agritech across Southeast Asia.

This is with the launch of the inaugural Southeast Asia Open Innovation Challenge (SEA OIC) by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) earlier today at the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology 2020 (SWITCH 2020).

Tan Soon Kim, ESG’s Assistant Chief Executive Officer explained that as economies recover from the pandemic, it will be important for companies to adopt innovative solutions that enable them to operate more efficiently, or to strengthen offerings that cater to increased demand in emerging sectors like fintech and healthcare.

“Through the SEA OIC, regional companies can develop innovations to help them adapt their business models and remain resilient. In turn, promising startups and SMEs gain the opportunity to partner these established corporates to testbed their ideas, and accelerate market access into the region,” Tan added.

The SEA OIC is the first collaboration of its kind and spans five regional corporate-level partnerships in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Companies that have come on board include Central Group, Emtek Group, Hong Leong Holdings, Sunway Group and VNG Cloud.

Shortlisted solution providers will get valuable opportunities to work directly with the regional corporates to develop and refine their solutions in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Up to six eligible winners will stand to win up to S$20,000 in Startup SG grants each.

Manila announced as 14th GIA city

At the event, ESG also announced the expansion of the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) network to include Manila.

Manila is the fourth GIA node in Southeast Asia, bringing the total number of GIA cities to 14, including places like San Francisco, Berlin and Tokyo.

Under GIA Manila, ESG will partner Plug and Play (PNP) to boost collaborations between Singapore tech startups and SMEs with their counterparts in the Philippines through Manila.

PNP will work with Launchgarage, one of the leading tech accelerators in the Philippines, to help participants engage key industry stakeholders in the Philippines.

PNP will also run two types of Acceleration Programmes:

The first is a market access programme that provides an overview of the innovation ecosystem in the Philippines, enabling Singapore enterprises to sharpen their internationalisation strategy for the Philippines market.

Participants will be able to meet with potential collaborators and customers through mentorship and business matching sessions.

The second is a “sector-based demand-led innovation programme” that will target specific challenges faced by local corporates. PNP and Launchgarage will curate problem statements from potential demand drivers in-market, and connect them to suitable Singapore solution providers.

These are targeted to commence in Q1 2021, and will involve up to 50 Singapore tech startups and SMEs over a year.