ASEAN Start-Up Agencies Discuss Regional Collaboration

The National Innovation Agency of Thailand hosted in July the Southeast Asia Startup Assembly (SEASA 2022) in Bangkok to exchange views on ways to create regional start-up collaborations.  

One of the key topics of the talks was the role governments and public agencies can play in supporting start-ups in the post-COVID economy.

The hybrid event under the theme “Open the Cities for Startup Opportunities among APEC Member Economies” brought together representatives from government start-up agencies from ASEAN member states Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam and partnering countries China and India.

Representatives discussed the main issues the start-up ecosystem faces post COVID and the solutions that can be achieved through collaboration.

Many countries in the region have promoted and supported start-ups in recent years after the pandemic accelerated digital transformation, Thailand’s National Innovation Agency (NIA) said.

For example, Thailand has been trying to provide easy access and create infrastructure and opportunities for both Thai and international tech enterprises under the Thailand 4.0 initiatives. The Malaysian government, for its part, has been working on three pillars to promote the digital economy – digital talents, digital businesses, and digital investment.

Thailand also has the Global Startup Hub, which was launched five years ago to facilitate local and foreign start-ups in various sectors. Malaysia also has been trying to build start-up communities and facilitate the market. The government has launched Malaysia Digital Hub Initiatives with over 400 start-ups in communities. Vietnam is developing the policy sandbox to fund start-ups directly. Vietnam has also recently amended the Intellectual Property (IP) laws, aiming to encourage universities and start-ups to bring more technology and research to commercialization.

“In conclusion, the post-COVID-19 time requires resilience and agility where startups need to create business models that suit the current situation. Therefore, the governments need to have policies in place to create business continuity for SMEs and startups as well as help ease some unnecessary regulations to improve a long-term business environment,” Thailand’s NIA said.