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News 27.09.2018

From Singapore the references to the emerging markets of Southeast Asia

Teemu Suna says that cardiovascular diseases and diabetes cost every year the amount of GDP in Finland, Singapore, and Sweden together.

With the fastest economic growth in the world, the Southeast Asian emerging markets provides business opportunities for Finnish innovations. ”If Finland is a good reference market in the west, Singapore is similar in Asia”, says CEO Teemu Suna.

Teemu Suna, the CEO, and founder of Nightingale Health was one of the keynote speakers in the technology and startup event Slush, which was held in Singapore in September for the third time.

Singapore is known for the most liveable startup hub in Asia where the market and finance opportunities are attractive. It is also a passage to the nearby countries in the region. With the population of 640 million the Southeast Asian region is the fastest growing and developing area in the world.

“There’s a large demand for new innovative technologies and services, which solve the development challenges in these countries, but Finnish companies lack knowledge of the business opportunities there”, says program manager Christopher Palmberg. He is responsible for the theme of emerging markets and BEAM – Business with Impact Program in Business Finland.

 “We fund companies which with their innovations promote the prosperity of developing countries and internationalization of Finnish companies”.

From treatment to prevention

Nightingale Health is a biotech company focused on healthcare. It has developed a blood test which enables to recognize the risk of cardiovascular deceases and diabetes even ten years before illness occurs.

Suna says that the cardiovascular deceases and diabetes are the most significant problems in the global healthcare system although they could be 80 percent preventable according to the World Health Organization WHO.

“The prevention is possible if the newest technology is used. It’s absurd that the health centers all over the world use the technology from the 70´s”, Suna criticises.

The Nightingale’s blood test is at the same time high technology and affordable.

“The public health doesn’t get better if the hi-tech is available only for the richest one percent. Of course, it’s is important, but more important is that it's available for everyone. We believe we can make the world a better place”.

The company is interested in the Southeast Asian emerging countries because of the speed of change in the healthcare system is faster than in the west.

“When you have to do fundamental systemic shift, there is more readiness to change and decision making in Asia than in the west.”

Incentives drive the electric vehicle charging business

PlugIt, which supplies smart solutions for charging of electric vehicles, is targeting the Southeast Asian markets from Singapore.

The head of Asia-Pacific, Ted Jankowski says that it’s typical for the industry that the markets move where there are more incentives available.

His market research concludes ten different countries in the region where the market potential is positive. Many of them are developed countries like Australia and Japan because in the developing countries the power infrastructure is undeveloped. One exception is Vietnam.

“It’s a developing country, but the growth and the development there is exceptional. I’ve never seen anything like that. They seem to have a competition between China and they think, that if the Chinese can, we can too”, says Jankowski.

In Vietnam, PlugIt has identified two potential, promising partners and prepares to sign a MoU soon.

”PlugIt is doing well in Nordic. Now is the right time to take the next step to expand to Asia", says Ted Jankowski.

Slush is about making the change

The startup ecosystem in Singapore is full of innovative buzz, but still, the mainstream of the Asian business culture relies on high hierarchies and close inner circles.

The head of Slush Singapore Anna Ratala says that Slush has brought from Finland to Singapore the courage to do things differently.

“People say, that Slush is so bold. We dare to speak out things which others also want to, but don't dare to. That inspires young entrepreneurs”, says Ratala.

There is plenty of talent in Singapore which don’t have a platform to express itself.

“We want to be that platform. We want you to come to Slush not only to listening to the speakers but to inspiring yourself to be the change maker.”

”Slush has brought to Singapore new way of doing things together and the spirit of volunteerism”, says Anna Ratala. 

In total, 2 500 visitors, 350 startups, 150 investors, and 70 speakers participated in the event.

Reasons for Finnish companies to join the Emerging Markets of Southeast Asia – watch the video

Text: Tanja Harjuniemi
Photos: Stoorisoppi