GASEA – Building bridges between Singapore and German startups

The GASEA team at their office in Blk 75, LaunchPad @ one-north

Established in November 2017, GASEA runs various programmes to facilitate collaboration and exchange between Singapore and Germany’s vibrant innovation ecosystems. GASEA’s inaugural flagship programme, German Accelerator Southeast Asia, is a five-month growth acceleration programme that empowers high-potential German startups to expand into Southeast Asia via Singapore. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the programme has since supported 12 German startups from its Singapore office at the LaunchPad @ one-north.

MoU signing with Enterprise Singapore to foster innovation and technology entrepreneurship between Germany and Singapore..

Forming a network across Southeast Asia

To tap the culturally and economically diverse region of Southeast Asia, GASEA has focused on building a strong network across Southeast Asia right from the start. By May 2018, it signed various Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) with national agencies for innovation and technology across Southeast Asia.

These include Enterprise Singapore, Thailand’s National Innovation Agency (NIA), the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia-German Chamber of Commerce, Saigon Innovation Hub (SiHub), Indonesian Agency of Creative Economy (BEKRAF), and Vietnam’s National Agency for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Development (NATEC). The representative offices for Germany’s Chambers of Commerce (AHK) in Southeast Asia have also been valuable partners for GASEA.

German Accelerator Southeast Asia Class of Summer 2018

GASEA works closely with corporates, educational institutions, and law firms. In October 2018, GASEA signed an MoU with German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon, marking the beginning of another valuable partnership to advance innovation and collaboration between Singapore and Germany.

With a total of 16 MoUs in place at the end of 2018, GASEA has emerged as a model for co-innovation and collaboration between Germany and Southeast Asia. Through its inaugural programme, startups have the opportunity to learn about overseas markets more quickly and how to cultivate valuable business relationships in the region.

The startups that GASEA supported in 2018

German startups take the stage

Since March 2018, GASEA has supported three classes of 12 German startups across a wide range of industries. Ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) software, to agri-tech, cryptocurrency, fintech, Internet of Things (IoT) software, regtech, logtech, martech and publishing, GASEA’s startups have been a significant contribution to the innovation ecosystem in Singapore and the region.

These German startups were particularly attracted to Singapore’s strategic location, which is a gateway to emerging markets in Southeast Asia. They have since settled into the dynamic startup community here and made use of the local government support, high concentration of investors and quality of tech talent to grow their business in the region.

From left: German Ambassador Ulrich Sante, Chairman of Enterprise Singapore Peter Ong and GASEA CEO Claus Karthe at GASEA’s office launch

The GASEA and RYTLE team with Singapore Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon and France Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi at SWITCH 2018

Diving into the Singapore startup ecosystem

In July 2018, GASEA opened their new office at JTC LaunchPad @ one-north – the heart of Singapore’s thriving startup community. The opening was graced by German Ambassador to Singapore Ulrich Sante and Chairman of Enterprise Singapore Peter Ong.

GASEA and its startups also participated in the Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology (SWITCH) in September 2018. At GASEA’s booth, logtech startup Rytle demonstrated their last-mile cargo electric bike, the MoVR, to excited crowds, while software startup Silexica emerged as one of 30 finalists – out of 1000 global startups – at SLINGSHOT@SWITCH, an annual deep tech pitching competition powered by Startup SG, an initiative by Enterprise Singapore. AI software startup Hackerbay was also a panelist on two panel discussions, where it spoke about the future of corporate innovation and on sustaining the human race using innovative technology.

A highlight at SWITCH was the appearance of Singapore Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon and France Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi. Both dropped by GASEA’s booth and enjoyed a test ride on RYTLE’s MoVR.

Looking to the future

There’s more to come in 2019. The latest addition of Germany to the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) network for Singapore presents even greater opportunities to grow both Singapore and Germany’s startup ecosystems.

Under the GIA, a new two-year accelerator programme, Scalerator, will be launched in the first quarter of 2019 to assist Singapore-based startups in entering Germany. A joint initiative between Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Economic Development Board, Scalerator will support Singapore-based startups for up to nine months in Singapore and Germany via landing pads in Berlin and Munich. The programme will help startups build their value proposition and go-to-market strategy for the German and broader European market.