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Challenging tech companies to prioritise South-East Asia

In light of the recent Smart Nation Plan, now is a vital time for Australian tech companies to prioritise the opportunities in the South-East Asia market.

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Australian tech start-ups often begin by asking key questions such as, how do I position my technology?, how do I bring my idea to market?, how can I fast track my innovation?, and how do I build profile and scale?. However, more often than not, these same start-ups are unable to raise funds to accelerate their growth plans.

It has long been the case that Australian companies have experienced difficulty raising capital at home. Traditionally, many companies have turned to the US or UK to pursue growth opportunities. However, this mindset is changing; Australian companies are shifting their focus towards local and regional alternatives. Considering Australia’s close proximity to South-East Asia, we are uniquely positioned to tap into the seven billion dollar strong South-East Asian market via Singapore as a gateway.

Singapore is world-renowned for its thriving economy and innovation in technology and business. The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom ranked Singapore as the second freest economy in the world behind Hong Kong.

Singapore has recently invested about $30b in tech and start-up initiatives, and is set to become the world’s first Smart Nation — a country unified by a nationwide sensor network.

Unearthing Australian technologies in South-East Asia via Singapore, is the logical next step for our tech sector.

In order to capitalise upon Singapore’s untapped opportunities, it is necessary to bridge to gap between Australia’s growing tech sector and the trade, investment and market opportunities that exist in South-East Asia. Singapore is an ideal gateway to South-East Asia as it’s multicultural, socially progressive and business-orientated. Furthermore, most Singaporeans are bi-lingual and speak fluent English. Singapore has much untapped potential to foster communication flows and business partnerships between South-East Asia and the West.

As the Founder and Director of Gemstar, I can vouch for the fact that companies such as mine are already challenging Australian tech companies to prioritise South-East Asia in their start-up or scale-up plans. Since 2013, Gemstar has been building new networks and relationships in Singapore. Gemstar was recently invited to Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) to showcase Australian companies, such CarbonTRACK, and Scann3d, at TechVenture — an event for start-ups in Asia. This was the first time in the history of the conference that Australia’s tech sector was showcased.

Gemstar is not alone in building solid business foundations in Singapore. Telstra, Australia’s largest technology company, has set up its headquarters in Singapore, and launched its Muru-D incubator there. Several smaller Australian companies now have regional offices in Singapore. On a global scale, there are more than 7000 multinational corporations from the US, Japan and Europe based in Singapore.

Singapore provides a platform for Australian companies to fast-track their growth. By unearthing Australian tech companies locally and regionally, and utilising Singapore as the gateway, Australia can capitalise upon the strong South-East Asian market.

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