Positioned as the gateway to ASEAN, an ambitious and forward-looking government sought to solidify the city’s position and attract innovative smart city startups to its nest. The city had spent the last five years building up infrastructure, ramping up digitalisation capabilities and attracting local tech talent from its neighbouring cities. To further push its status as a smart city hub, the government was keen to identify technology solutions across a wide range of sectors, from property to entertainment, mobility to healthcare, and greentech to automation.
With a population of over 7 million people who were starting to embrace digital products and services, there was an untapped market for startups to leverage upon and the government had identified hi-tech industries that would benefit from startup collaborations.
We adopted a consultative approach with our partners, and through local research on the ground, visits to startup enclaves and communities in the city, meetings with local corporations and dialogues with its local government leaders, we were able to identify main themes, opportunities for startups in the city and challenges in setting up shop.
As a city that was trying to establish itself as a lucrative market for startups, we were able to work with the government to set aside funds and resources for the long term to attract companies. The challenge was to get the word out there, and to design an offer that would attract companies to consider the city as a viable location for expansion.
We designed an open call and marketing campaign, as well as a selection process for identifying startups in smart cities domains, managing the process from end to end.
Through a targeted campaign and open call, we identified and scouted startups from the ASEAN+3 regions over two months, receiving over 400 startup applications. Solutions ranged from proptech, VR, medtech, hardware, robotics, fintech, AI and more. Startups went through a thorough and intensive selection process over two months, where only 12 teams were shortlisted and flown into the city to pitch on national TV.
Aside from walking away with cash prizes, we were able to elevate the city’s presence amongst the ASEAN tech community as a potential market for expansion, and shortlisted teams were offered the opportunity to testbed their solutions in the city over a period of two years, with introductions to local trade organisations, investors and local corporates for collaborations.
Our finalists solutions included medical assistive devices for patients in recovery, greentech platforms for monitoring energy consumptions within a building, and a patient location and tracking device for Alzheimer’s patients.