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5 key sectors where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the rise in Southeast Asia



While China is taking a leading role in artificial intelligence (AI) worldwide, many Southeast Asian countries have also been emerging as a strong region for its immense potential for this new technology.


Among the 10 countries in this region (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos), Singapore is the primary driver in AI in line with its industrial transformation policy called Industry 4.0 revolution.

Robotics, artificial intelligence, and additive manufacturing are transforming the way products are built, how operations are managed, and how value chains are defined. It will connect interconnected networks of suppliers, partners, and customers, spur innovation and create new jobs, where human work in collaboration with machines to manage smart facilities. Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said at the Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific exhibition.

Alongside Singapore’s innovation as a hub for AI, other industries are also emerging and bring tangible changes to the economic development in Southeast Asia.


Financial Services

According to the McKinsey’s Panorama Fintech database, already some 300 fintech startups have emerged in Southeast Asia to improve customer experience in financial services. Through data collection and basic digitization, they provide solutions in payments, micro and peer-to-peer lending, and wealth management. In particular, this will also help disadvantaged people with no access to credit solutions to have better access to financial services. For example, CompareAsiaGroup – a Hong Kong-based startup that operates in five Southeast Asian countries – is committed to helping people to save time and money using machine learning to match customers with financial, telecom, and utility services across Asia.



Over the years, countries like Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand have achieved big business in E-commerce especially in the retail industry. More and more people in Thailand are using their mobile phones to get advice on personalized purchasing recommendations for shopping. With the key to building customer loyalty, retailers are using AI to work to meet consumers’ expectations by using big data which contains consumer profiles, activity history, and behaviour. This new technology also provides a new way of communication between stores and consumers using chatbots rather than human sales assistants. Among these companies, Lazada Group is the number-one online shopping and selling platform founded by Rocket Internet from Singapore in 2012 and now owned by China-based Alibaba Group. It operates in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines with the US $1.36 billion in annual sales.

Lazada Group


As agriculture is the biggest driver of their economic development in many countries in Southeast Asia, people are embracing the new AI tools in the agriculture sector. Technologies like machine learning, image recognition, and predictive modelling are being applied in the agricultural industry as a solution to improved productivity and efficiency. is a Vietnamese startup using AI for the agricultural sector aiming to solve the problem of erratic crop production. Through mobile internet, it connects farmers and agriculture experts. It also encourages farmers to take a photo of sick crops and upload them online helping farmers to identify crop diseases and to provide preventive recommendations via their computer vision technology.


Many cities in Southeast Asia are facing accelerating urbanization. More and more people are moving to urban areas which led to major problems of urban congestion and pollution. To solve some of the region’s most pressing challenges, AI became to play an important role to collect the data and create a new way of the solution such as how many people are using public transportation daily, how many free parking lots are available, or where the most congested areas are.

A Singapore-based startup, Grab launched AI laboratory in partnership with National University of Singapore (NUS). It was aimed to develop solutions that can transform urban transportation and prepare for smarter cities across Southeast Asia.

Grab has a bold mission to solve Southeast Asia’s most complex challenges, especially the congestion that stifles our cities. The lab will harness the power of Grab’s data and machine learning with research and talent from a world-leading institution, to become a valuable tool for governments who are bringing smarter transport to their cities in Southeast Asia.” Grab co-Founder and Group CEO, Anthony Tan said.

By collecting the data from the AI lab, the Grab platform will be able to highlight traffic patterns and identify better methods to reduce travel times, especially during peak hours.

It is said the lab will also focus on developing new systems to better serve passengers through more personalized services, such as matching drivers to the jobs they prefer, improving driving safety, and improving precision and accuracy in mapping pick-up points.


Health Care

For the last few years, the potential area for AI in health care has been demonstrated in many ways. Using deep learning, AI enables to help predict your medical needs, customize your healthcare plan and increase your access to medical advice. It also helps to review data relating to serious illness in a fast and secure way, allowing doctors to diagnose and treat patients more efficiently than before. is a Singapore-based healthcare startup that uses AI to optimize healthcare resources and reduce healthcare costs across the industry. It focuses on three distinct audiences based on what they call the 3P’s: patients, providers such as hospitals and payers (like private insurance). The startup uses deep learning and neural network algorithms built on existing healthcare data to “help priorities healthcare resources to reduce preventable hospitalization”.

What do you think about this growing market of AI in Southeast Asia?

Source : Mckinsey&Company Artificial intelligence and Southeast Asia’s future

With my experience working in the international development sector, I write articles about innovation and creativity.

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How to build a relationship with business angels and venture capitalists?



When you go on a first date, you normally don’t ask the person to marry you. With business angels and venture capitalists, sometimes you simply have to, because if you don’t ask the question, you may never get a second chance. But most of the time, you need to build a relationship with them before they can entertain the idea of investing money into your company, just like in a personal relationship.

Say Thank You

You started a business and now you need funds to grow it. The first financing campaign is crucial, as you will need to be able to convince at least one investor to join in, in order to stabilize the company’s finance and start developing. But it is not the only time you will need to meet with business angels and venture capitalists. In fact, this process should be part of your short- and longer-term strategy, because the bigger your company will grow, the more funding you’ll need.

Let us share a little secret that will go a long way. As you are contacting and meeting with investors, take the time to send them thank you cards. First, it will show them that you are into details and that is something they like in an entrepreneur. Secondly, it has a good chance to remain around them for a little while (on their desk, briefcase…) and will act as a reminder of your endeavour. Finally, it just might be the one thing that makes them pick-up your call the next time, if only to say thank you in return and then it will be another chance for you to seize the opportunity.

Keep Them Informed

There is nothing more exciting for an investor than to see a company grow. The only way they can be aware of your development is if you keep them informed. Of course, this communication needs to be balanced, otherwise, they will shut it down by sending your mails directly into their trash or they simply won’t pick-up your calls anymore.

One good way to go about this, is to keep a monthly newsletter aimed at them. Its content should focus only on your monthly achievements and results from previous ones. They need to see that you are delivering on what you were promising when you originally met with them. You may think they have better things to do, but they don’t. Their job is to find the next Microsoft or Uber of the world, and to do that, they need information. Bringing it to them is almost like a gift… if done right and in moderation.

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Will Innovation Beat Coronavirus?

Coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain that was not identified in humans but originated from a group of viruses responsible for illness such as common cold, SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).



Coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain that was not identified in humans but originated from a group of viruses responsible for illness such as common cold, SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these viruses are zoonotic for they are spread between people and animals. The disease at its initial stage exhibits respiratory symptoms such as breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, cough and fever. A patient with coronavirus is diagnosed with SARS, kidney failure, pneumonia at an advanced stage and ultimately, the patient dies out of these complications.

The standard prevention of spreading infection is regular hand washing, as well as covering one’s nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Further cooking eggs and meat thoroughly is important for it stops the transfer of viruses from animals to humans.

The disease has attracted increased attention across the world due to the number of reported deaths and for that reason, WHO has declared this disease a global health emergency. In view of that, the question in people’s mind is whether innovation will beat the coronavirus. Continue reading this article for in-depth insight.

Can the Spread of Coronavirus be stopped?

Researches, medical experts, scholars and governments are working at cutting off the infections. People wearing surgical masks have become a standard feature across the world’s airports, streets and other public places.

However, according to the Australian Government department of Health as of February 10, 2020, 06:00 hrs, the fatality rate was 2.16%, and 813 persons had died while 37,562 were confirmed to be infected. Australia has 15 patients among these reported cases scattered across its major cities.

Several universities are applying computer modelling technology to establish the rate of infection. The results from the modelling indicate that the new coronavirus case is infecting nearly 2.5 people. The University of Hong Kong reported that More than 75,800 people were infected in regions such as Wuhan between January 25th and 31st.

Further, experts warn that these techniques can’t estimate the rates of fatality at the initial stages of an outbreak due to its likelihood to mutate with new infections. Thus, it has become difficult to tell whether genetic changes will cause the virus to be more or less virulent.

The recent coronavirus outbreak in China is reported to surpass the SARS epidemic that occurred in 2002 -2003 and killed 774 people across the world. The number of reported deaths is still questionable since most testing facilities in Chinese laboratories and hospitals lack modern equipment and are under severe strain.

Wearing masks remains controversial since there is limited evidence and people have a different opinion about it. However, these masks assist in reducing the transmission of aerosols among individuals through sneezing and coughing.

Will Innovation Beat Coronavirus?

The answer to this mindboggling question is yes. The article provides several reasons that demonstrate that the use of innovation and technology will bring down this disease as it did with other epidemics. The following innovative initiatives are ongoing with a view of bringing the spread of this disease under control.

  • WHO has established research and innovation forum across the globe to exploit the power of science in mitigating the spread of the disease. Bringing the scientific community under one roof to discuss research priorities, tools and to accelerate progress is the current role that WHO is playing.

It intends to use innovation to develop therapies, vaccines and diagnoses, among others. The forum will help them identify the research areas like source if the virus, share genetic sequences and biological samples.

The participants and experts will improve the existing MERS and SARS research in addition to accelerating medical products and scientific information needed to minimize the effects of coronavirus outbreaks.

  • Scientists are using innovation to produce coronavirus vaccines. They did the same with the Ebola outbreak in West African between 2014 and 2016 as well as Zika epidemic that struck Latin America in 2016.

Technology is shaping the clinical trial of these vaccines, while innovation is scaling up its production. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is financing the creation of coronavirus vaccines by three companies at the cost of $12.5 million. The announcement was made on January 10, 2020, when 2019-CoV was reported in a public database by Chinese researchers. 

Mass production of these vaccines is reported to be inevitably a significant challenge after clinical trials. However, innovative strategies will assist these companies to double their annual production to protect the world’s population.

  • The use of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) procedure to test patient samples is a slow process. For that reason, there is a need for specialist equipment across the major laboratories across the world.

Thus, researchers are innovatively developing cheaper, faster and portable tests. For instance, The European Diagnostics Company, known as Novacyt, launched new equipment recently that provides results in roughly 90 minutes. The molecular research use only (RUO) test was developed in response to the novel coronavirus that broke out in China.

The company reports that the Primerdesign test is stable even at room temperatures and has received orders from ten countries. The fast response to this outbreak is a clear indication that experts are using their core competency such as innovation, development and commercialization. 


The outbreak of 2019 nCoV in the city of Wuhan has attracted the world’s attention. Coronavirus cause infections in a person’s respiratory system. It has already been declared a global health emergency by the WHO. For that reason, most countries have restricted movement of its people and have imposed containment controls. However, the existing records indicate that the number of deaths from coronavirus has surpassed the number of people that died during the SARS outbreak.

Scientists and experts are busy conducting studies on the causes of this disease. Despite these initiatives, the question in people’s mind is “will innovation beat coronavirus?”

Based on WHO and CEPI initiatives, it is believed that the answer to that question is “Yes”. These organizations are funding researches to create coronaviruses vaccines and testing equipment to stop the spread of the virus. 

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Romania rising: why this small eastern Europe country may become the next startup paradise?

Romania is one of the small European countries a lot of foreigners go just to visit due to Dracula’s story.



But in the past decade, it has been one of the countries with more and more focus on using technology to grow and evolve in the long haul. The most important aspect for Romania is that there are a lot of ways to create a startup and do that cheaply.

The overall living costs are smaller in Romania when compared to most countries in Europe. On top of that, the country has one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. Not only that, but Romania also has a large pool of well-educated talent. The operating costs are very cheap, and the low wages make it appealing for a lot of investors that want a great ROI without any major risks.

New startups are coming

The reason why startup creators choose Romania is because of the low operating costs. Romania is one of the countries that continue to grow and expand, and it’s all about using the right tools to make that happen. It’s certainly rewarding and unique, and the overall approach is nothing short of spectacular every time because of that. The commitment to growth and value is very important, and at the end of the day, you just have to make it work in a stellar manner.

When you think about Romania, you mostly think about a small, poor country in Europe. But the education system here is widely regarded as one of the best and cheapest ones in Europe. That means you can get a very good degree and start your career without worries. It’s a wonderful starting point. Companies like Accelerole, for example, continue to grow and expand, focusing on foreign markets.

Yes, if you create a startup in Romania you will be targeting global markets, as the local market just doesn’t have the tech demand you would expect. It all comes down to commitment and value, and if you’re tackling it wisely, nothing can really stand in your way.

Why is Romania growing in the tech world?

One of the top advantages is definitely one of the fastest internet speeds in the world. On top of that, the company also has multiple telecom companies that provide small scale fiber networks for companies too. The internet prices are extremely low too, which is amazing. And the millennial generation continues to focus on tech because it’s something they really enjoy.

As you can see, Romania has everything you need in order to create a powerful and rewarding business in the long run. There will always be challenges and demanding situations, but if you’re doing it right, you will find that nothing is impossible and creating a business here might very well be the boost you need to create a global phenomenon. If you’re looking to relocate to a new country to start your own business, then Romania might be a great option. It has a startup-friendly economic environment and it definitely offers some benefits to new business owners. You should definitely consider checking it out as it can be totally worth the effort in the long run.

cover image : Simona Strugariu

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