There are many industries that are not suitable for countries with low population density. Cell phone base stations, EV charging facilities, retail chains, and public transportation are some examples of extremely inefficient investments when population density is low. In Australia, there are existing policies to ensure minimal unsound or unnecessary investments or operations in these areas.
For example, only Sydney and Brisbane have train services from the international airport to the city center, while other airports offer cab or bus services. In addition, many gas stations are unmanned, and retail stores are closed at times of the day when customer traffic is low.
In Australia, a number of technologies have been developed to support low population density. For example, there are innovative technologies to support the operation of gyms that are open 24 /7 or to automate agriculture. Among these, a company that provides IoT technology called Myriota is attracting particular attention. Starting as a spin-off venture from the University of South Australia in 2015, the company aims to build a large-scale, low-cost, low-power consumption satellite communications network using nano-satellites. Its technology is currently being used in a wide range of applications, from monitoring wind farms to water tanks on farms.
It has raised more than A$50 million in funding to date, and investors include Innov8, a Singapore-based venture capital firm run by SingTel, one of Asia’s largest telecommunications companies, and HorizonX, Boeing’s venture capital arm.
A key factor in creating new industries in Australia is the federal government’s management of industry portfolios and state governments’ focus on specific industries. For new industries, startups in each state’s region focus on a specific business area, such as FinTech in New South Wales, AgriTech and HealthTech in Victoria, and CleanTech and SpaceTech in South Australia.
Moreover, each state governor has made efforts to develop their cities to maximize the growth of the industries they are focusing on. For example, in South Australia, the incubation hub Stone & Chalk is located within walking distance of the University of South Australia, the University of Adelaide, and research institutes. Myriota, introduced in 2) above, is also a university startup born in such an environment.In the past, excessive population growth was considered a social issue in Japan – today, the paradigm has shifted and key challenges include a declining population due to the falling birthrate and aging population, as well as depopulation of regional cities. Instead of viewing environmental change as a risk, let us acquire and apply the skill of analogical thinking to find reference cases that will help us solve our current problems. Looking across the world, there is an abundance of solutions and resources that we can and should tap on. **************************************************************************************************** IGPI can provide strategy consulting for multiple aspects of your business. Get in touch with us on internationalization, strategic planning and fund raising related topics!
IHI is developing a new CO2 recycling technology in collaboration with the Singapore Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES). The company has been conducting joint research and development in the fields of environment and energy since 2011. In 2019, IHI developed a device for methanation. This device produces methane from CO2 using a methanation catalyst9.
MTI is a joint research partner participating in a study on renewable tidal energy with MAKO Energy Pte. Ltd., a subsidiary of Australian tidal turbine manufacturer Elemental Energy Technologies Ltd., and Sentosa Development Corporation which develops Sentosa Island under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The project aims for the first commercialization of marine renewable energy in the country10.
Singapore faced a critical situation during Covid-19 regarding the country’s food security. In the early stages of the pandemic, some supermarket shelves were emptied as people rushed to buy instant food. The government worked with major supermarkets and food wholesalers to build up stocks of food and essential supplies. Singapore’s government also consulted with Malaysia’s government to ensure that food imports would continue even after the border closed at midnight on March 17, 2020. Concerns were thus lessened. Nonetheless, the pandemic reaffirmed the importance of food security.
SFA offers a variety of support menus to assist agricultural businesses and food-related R&D. For example, SFA prepared an Agriculture Productivity Fund worth SGD 63 million (USD 47 million) to co-fund high-tech, productive farming systems with better environmental control, and to boost production capabilities and capacity1.
SFA, in collaboration with national research institute A*STAR, secured SGD 144 million of Singapore Food Story’s R&D Programme to support R&D in sustainable urban food production, future foods, and food safety science and innovation2.
On April 17, 2020, SFA announced the 30×30 Express grant to ramp up local production of eggs, vegetables and fish over the next six to 24 months in early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic2. SFA originally announced its budget as SGD 30 million in April, but this was increased it to close to SGD 40 million (USD 30 million) to subsidize nine companies on September 9.
Singapore’s government also encourages citizen cooperation to achieve the 30 by 30 goal. One measure is the use of the SG Fresh Produce logo1. This logo can be found on agricultural products produced in Singapore. You can find these products in major grocery stores throughout the country2(Figure 3 and 4).
Eat Just, a startup from San Francisco has developed cultured chicken meat. In December 2020, SFA approved it as the world’s first meat not derived from slaughtered animals. Plant-based meat such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Quorn have been in the market as alternative meat sources, but this is the first time animal muscle cells have been cultured in a lab as meat to be eaten5.
Eat Just was founded in 2011. It is known that Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing and Singapore state investor Temasek are backers of this company. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, and others invested in Eat Just in March 2021, raising USD 650 million in total. The company is valued at USD 1.2 billion.
Shiok Meats, a cell-based crustacean meat company in Singapore, raised USD 12.6 million from a Singaporean investment arm SEEDS Capital, a Japanese package manufacturer Toyo Seikan among others in October 2020. They will construct a pilot plant and start selling their products in 2022.
TurtleTree Labs has been developing cultured milk since 2019. This reduces CO2 emission by 98% compared to livestock farming. The milk produced is also of higher nutritional value. Temasek Foundation, a non-profit foundation owned by Singapore sovereign fund Temasek Holdings, injected SGD 1 million to TurtleTree Labs.
During his travels around Asia, Singaporean CEO Lin Fengru discovered an issue with livestock farming concerning hormones and antibiotics being pumped into cows. Max Rye, Chief Strategist, was a CEO in Silicon Valley and gave a session at Google on technology for making meat and seafood from cells. He met Lin Fengru, who was working at Google at that time, and discovered that there were no companies making milk from cell culture. They started research with scientists and filed patents3.
They raised USD 3.2 million in June 2020 and USD 6.2 million in December 20204. One of the company’s major investors is Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, a vegan, and the son of a billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal in Saudi Arabia.
&ever, a German company focused on indoor vertical farming, announced in October 2020 their intention to set up a facility to produce 500 tons of vegetables a year in Singapore2. The company has received a 30×30 Express grant from SFA. &ever is also planning a R&D project with one of Singapore’s national research institute A*STAR, in collaboration with Signify, a lighting company. Research will focus on how to use sunlight and LED grow lights to minimize energy consumption and maximize production. The R&D center will also receive support from the Economic Development Board (EDB).
Singaporean company Sky Greens has operated the world’s first commercial vertical farm since 2012. The farm is 9-meters tall with 38 tiers, produces 500kg of vegetables every day and sells at grocery chain FairPrice Finest. Sky Greens’ vertical farm is covered by glass, and the tiers rotate so that sunlight hits evenly, which means that there is no need to use LED lights.
Singapore’s government created the world’s first standard for organic vegetables grown in urban farming, and certified Sky Greens in July 20192.
ComCrop was founded in 2013 and is currently the only commercial rooftop farm in Singapore. A hydroponic farm was built on the roof of a shopping center in Orchard, the largest shopping district in Singapore. It produces 150kg of vegetables and herbs a month2. ComCrop also created a 36,000 sq ft farm on the roof of a building for food companies built by JTC Corporation8, a government-owned industrial zone developer. They sell vegetables and herbs grown at major grocery stores such as RedMart and FairPrice. For example, caixin, a leafy vegetable common in Singapore, is produced by ComCrop and sold at S$3.90 per bunch at supermarkets. In the same supermarket, organic caixin from Malaysia is sold at $2.80 per bunch, which is about 1.4 times below the price of domestic, rooftop produced vegetables3.
Build a strategy that enables Japanese companies to leverage their strengths on the ground (steady improvement activities) to acquire data and use that to their advantage in the “aerial” territory (use of digital technology). Engaging a business consulting service can help optimize your company’s existing strategy to reach its full potential.
Incorporating the technologies and knowledge of startups and local companies across multiple industries into a new business supports the creation of an ecosystem rather than a one-off activity.
On top of hiring and training local staff, cooperating with relevant local companies, including capital providers, and building mid- to long-term relationships with these companies, is important to achieve localization of the business.We hope the above information provides some food for thought in your digital transformation journey in ASEAN. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us. IGPI can provide strategy consulting for multiple aspects of your business – Get in touch with us!