Many say Southeast Asia will soon be the new frontier for startups and innovation, while there are those who remain skeptical of this assessment. Whether you are a believer or not, you simply can’t deny the potentials of this region, having 8.6% of the world’s population, over 70% of whom are under 40.

The number of Internet users in Southeast Asia is increasing at the fastest rate across the globe, meaning more and more indigenous problems are going to be met with technological solutions. Altogether, Southeast Asia is predicted to be a $200 billion digital opportunity, according to a research conducted by Google and Temasek last year.

Standing in the center of the region is Thailand, a landscape that is literally a middle ground between the developed Singapore scene, and the emerging economies like Indonesia, Vietnam, Burma, etc. Apart from the sheer number of entrepreneurs, the Thai startup scene stands out with a beefed-up infrastructure, strong consumer trust and most importantly, capital flow from corporations.

As industry leaders in Thailand are consciously going through digital transformation, startups are reaching maturity and need guidance on operating in the big league. This gave rise to corporate innovation— the symbiotic relationship between industry leaders and startups to drive the economy together. 

Capitalising on this growing movement is RISE Innovation Week by RISE Accelerator (who is well known regionally as a corporate accelerator). As quoted by their official materials, RISE Innovation Week is the first step in their master plan to aggregate corporate innovation in Thailand and, eventually, Southeast Asia.

Having previously worked in the Vietnamese startup scene for three years and recently relocated to Bangkok, I simply couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see what’s up here:

1. 19th June: The Future of AI/Machine Learning in Southeast Asia

With 3 visionaries—Daniel Sparing from Google Cloud, Santanu Dutt from AWS, and Dr. Warodom Khamphanchai—I got to learn more about what the experts at Google Cloud and AWS are doing, and peek into what’s coming in Southeast Asia.

2. 20th June: Who Are the Next Unicorns in Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia has witnessed home-grown heroes who have become unicorns. We got help from some veteran venture capitalists from Golden Gate Ventures, KK Fund, Venturra Capital, 500 TukTuks, to see who will soon join the rank of Grab, Go-Jek, Tokopedia, Garena, VNG.

3. 21st June, morning: Corporate Innovation Workshop

Most participants are key executives in big corporations of Thailand, with high hopes for Dr. Bert. Yet, he exceeded our expectations, facilitating not just new skills but a new mindset to apply to transform their organisation from within.

4. 21 June, afternoon: Innovation City Tour 

Seems to be the most sought-after segment, seeing how the tickets were quickly sold out. And it makes sense since you don’t get to visit top innovative companies in their natural habitats everyday. The lineup includes RISE, MCFIVA, LINE , Facebook and JD Central.

Also read: Thai accelerator Krungsri RISE seeks to boost corporate innovation with the launch of its 3rd cohort

5. 21st June, evening: Future of Accelerators

Accelerators are agents innovations, but how do they innovate themselves? Coming from an accelerator background, learning from other accelerators is a field day for me. In this case with Dr. Bert from Budding Innovation and Ms. Phi Van Nguyen from Saigon Innovation Hub, and Ron Premmaneesakul from RISE Accelerator to discuss what accelerators can do for a better future.

6. 22nd June: Sharpen Corporate Entrepreneurial Mindset in a Faster Future

This is the session that is a welcomed surprise for me. Ikhlaq brought his unique energy that drew in everyone from the start. With 14 years as an expert on technology innovation and entrepreneurship, Ikhlaq has amassed quite a few lessons, without enough time to share, unfortunately. The most profound piece of wisdom for me is the importance of both innovators and operators in a successful startup.

7. 23rd June: How Will Blockchain Impacts the Future

We’re hearing about blockchain everywhere. But there are so many myths and misconceptions surrounding this fascinating technology. The panelists are from Zencash, Ever Network, CP Group, OmiseGO and The Block Club, tinkering with many different applications of blockchain, e.g., decentralised coin, smart contract, medicine, etc. I am as much of a rookie as it comes but I thoroughly enjoyed the debates and the many terminologies I had to look up later.

It was a long week of constant learning, networking, endless inspiration, and the perfect introduction to the ecosystem in Thailand for me.

(BTW, I heard they are planning something big coming later this year.)

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