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Betting Big on Southeast Asia’s Tech Ecosystem

By February 29, 2024No Comments
Betting big on Southeast Asia's tech ecosystem

Southeast Asia is transforming into a hotbed for budding tech talents. According to Google & Temasek’s e-Conomy SEA 2023 Report, in 2023, the SEA digital economy delivered $100 billion in revenue, growing at a 27% CAGR since 2021. 

With over 60% of the population under 35, considerable government and private support, and advanced tech resources, the region is fertile ground for aspiring technology professionals.

SEA’s Rise as a Tech Hub 

1. Government & Private Initiatives:

Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative – This is a holistic initiative thriving upon 3 key pillars – digital society, digital economy, and digital government. The Digital Readiness Blueprint highlights how the Singapore Government focuses on making technology more accessible to every Singaporean and helps local communities and businesses drive widespread adoption of technologies. 

Indonesia’s 1000 Digital Startup Program – With a vision to become the Digital Energy of Asia, this movement is a collaboration between government institutions, business firms, and education centers that provide semi-structured incubation activities for students to build technology startups that have a huge impact on society. 

Alongside these, various government initiatives, such as coding boot camps, startup incubators, and tax breaks, attract tech investments and nurture local talent.

Several private initiatives are also encouraging young techies to pursue entrepreneurship. For instance, Google for Startups Accelerator: Southeast Asia is a 3-month equity-free program for Seed to Series A startups. This Accelerator program aims to support and accelerate top Southeast Asia startups via in-person and virtual activities, 1:1 mentoring, and group learning sessions.

Microsoft Imagine Cup: SEA New Markets Edition offers students the opportunity to tap into their entrepreneurial side and develop a technology solution to address some of today’s most pressing local and global issues. Students can gain new skills, connect with like-minded people, access exclusive training, avail of mentorship, have a chance to win great prizes and make a difference in the world.

2. Rising Economic Curve 

While the funding landscape hit a rock throughout 2022 and ’23, Southeast Asia is expected to be better positioned this year. The Asian Development Bank projects the region’s GDP to expand by 4.7% this year, up from 4.3% in 2023. In line with these projections, analysts from Nomura Global Research expect ASEAN-5 countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand—to grow by an aggregate rate of 4.5% in 2024, compared to 3.9% last year.

Alongside E-commerce and Fintech, sectors that could see the next wave of investment opportunities this year include AgriTech, Artificial Intelligence, ClimateTech, D2C brands, HealthTech, and Travel.

Southeast Asia's GDP forecast

3. Cost-Effectiveness 

Comparatively lower operating costs in Southeast Asia as opposed to Silicon Valley or Europe is a gateway for many businesses. Further, many Southeast Asian governments offer tax breaks and other incentives to attract foreign tech companies. 

This cost advantage is not just about less rent and a competitive salary; it also fosters agility, scalability, and sustainable growth by reinvesting savings into innovation and talent acquisition. 

Promising Hubs 

Singapore’s Budget 2024 addresses critical areas for businesses, such as tackling rising costs, enhancing competitive advantages, and prioritizing sustainability. A newly announced Enterprise Support Package seeks to offer financial relief to businesses experiencing hikes in wage bills, rental, and utility expenses. With a commitment of SG$1.3 billion, this package provides support through the following three measures:

Singapore budget 2024 highlights

Indonesia is embarking on a transformative journey with Visi Indonesia Digital 2045 – a multi-pronged strategy that concentrates on sector-wise focus (financial services, trade, retail, manufacturing, agriculture, and maritime), enhanced digital infrastructure and digital talent development, smart applications, economic impact and investment, regulatory framework and digital governance, and national digital strategy.

Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has also announced a plan for 2024 to propel the nation’s digital transformation and elevate its competitive edge. Some of its key initiatives include: 

Thailand's digital transformation plan 2024

Further, in 2023, Vietnam’s burgeoning digital technology sector witnessed a meteoric rise in revenue, totalling an impressive US$142 billion, with the nation contributing an impressive 28.7% to the global digital technology market. 

With unicorns like Grab and Sea Group & leading firms like Gojek, Tokopedia, and Tiki offering unparalleled infrastructure, resources, and talent pool – Southeast Asia boasts a combination of a tech-savvy population, supportive governments, and a booming business landscape that welcomes visionary leaders. 

Spotlight on Young Techies in Southeast Asia

Spotlight on young techies in Southeast Asia

1. Fransiska P.W. Hadiwidjana

Engineer and entrepreneur, Fransiska Hadiwidjana is the Co-founder and CTO of WomenWorks – a women-first recruiting platform. Named among the top ten inspirational female tech entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia by Forbes, Fransiska has also founded Prelo – an Indonesia-based mobile e-commerce marketplace and co-founded AugMI labs – an award-winning biomedical startup in Silicon Valley. 

2. Gibran Huzaifah

A fish farmer-turned-agriculture tech entrepreneur — eFishery founder and CEO Gibran Huzaifah is revolutionizing the relatively untapped $9.4 billion-valued Indonesian aquaculture market. Having started his own fish-rearing business back in his college days, he now owns one of the largest startups in the industry serving over 60,000 farmers and 280,000 ponds. 

3. Cyril Nie

Cyril Nie is the co-founder and CTO of PixCap – a graphic design platform enabling users to create immersive digital experiences. Back in his college life, he received the Warwick Social Enterprise Award and the China Thinks Big Competition Award for ‘Plant for Planet’—an entrepreneurial solution towards environmental sustainability.  

4. Angelina Terlaki

Angelina Terlaki is the co-founder of Red Dot Analytics, which pioneers cognitive digital twin solutions to digitalize, optimize and automate data center operations and management for business resilience and sustainability purposes. The Nanyang Technological University alumna is driven by the mission of using AI technologies to reduce carbon emissions. 


Southeast Asia’s tech scene is a vibrant tapestry woven from passionate young talent, supportive governments, and a booming digital economy. With its cost-effectiveness, thriving startup ecosystem, and growing tech-savvy population, the region offers ample opportunities for aspiring tech professionals to launch their careers and make a global impact.


[Data Source: miscellaneous]

Authored by Soumi Bhattacharya

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