Leading entrepreneurs and investors gathered at the ORIGIN Conference, a side event of the BEYOND International Technology Innovation Expo (BEYOND Expo) 2023, to discuss and emphasize the importance of balancing a sustainable future with business profitability in Southeast Asia. BEYOND Expo is Asia’s largest technology event, held in Macau from May 10 to 12. It focuses on three key areas: Sustainability, Healthcare, and Consumer Tech.
BEYOND Expo includes summits, talks, business matchings, networking on emerging technologies and more. The ORIGIN Conference is TechNode Global’s premier international content tract about the latest developments in the Asia tech and startup scene, where industry leaders and technology innovators across the region gather to share trends, experiences and leadership lessons.
On May 11, the panel talk for ORIGIN Conference titled “Southeast Asia: A Race to Go Sustainable” was moderated by James Jung, CEO and founder of beSUCCESS Media Group. The panel included Ting Yan Leck, Managing Partner of TRIVE Ventures. This firm has been investing in startups that create social impact in Southeast Asia; Carrie Chan, Co-Founder & CEO of Avant Meats, the first cultivated fish company in Asia and Irwan Tjahaja, CEO of Swap Energi, Asia’s largest clean distribution network through swappable batteries & smart e-motorcycles.
The discussion covered various aspects of sustainability, including environmental challenges, renewable energy initiatives, waste management, and the role of entrepreneurship in driving sustainable innovation. The panelists highlighted the importance of government policies, public awareness, and collaboration among stakeholders in achieving sustainable development goals.
Carrie Chan, CEO of Avant Meats, discussed the benefits and challenges of producing cell-based meat, emphasizing how it addresses overfishing and reduces the environmental impact caused by traditional fishing methods. Carrie highlighted the efficiency and cleanliness of producing meat in a sterilized environment. “Overfishing is a major problem, with 90% of marine ecosystems already exploited. If we can find a way to produce fish without overfishing, we can offer a more efficient and cleaner solution. There’s a lot of potential in the Asian market.” said Carrie.
Irwan Tjahaja, CEO of Swap Energi, shared insights into promoting sustainable consumption through swappable batteries and smart e-motorcycles. He explained how their swapping networks provide easy access to energy for electric motorcycles, simplifying the process compared to conventional gasoline-fueled motorcycles. “In Indonesia, there are 130 million units of IC motorcycles causing huge pollution. Our goal is to convert these motorcycles to electric motorcycles by providing swapping networks and easy access to energy. We want to achieve sustainable consumption and reduce air pollution,” Irwan said.
Ting Yan Leck, Managing Partner of TRIVE Ventures, highlighted his company’s support for innovative startups in the sustainability sector. He mentioned Agrimax, a company that increases crop yields, House Foods, a food reformulation company, and a coding education school in Vietnam as examples of their investments.
He stressed the importance of impact evaluation in their investment decisions, using the Impact Management Project framework to categorize startups based on their contribution to solutions. Ting also talked about how startups in Southeast Asia can attract investment from private and public wealth funds by showcasing their value-creation potential and revenue-generation capabilities.
He advised against solely branding themselves as sustainability or impact companies, as it may create a perception of lower profitability. Instead, startups should highlight their financial success potential and positive impact, expanding the range of potential investors and enabling better negotiation terms. By striking a balance between profitability and sustainability, startups can position themselves to attract investment in the region.
Collaboration was emphasized as a key approach to achieving sustainability goals. The panelists discussed the need to work with established industry players to create new opportunities and drive sustainable innovation. The sharing economy and circular economy were identified as areas with significant potential for promoting sustainability, particularly in the context of smartphone technology and battery swapping for electric vehicles.
In conclusion, the panel discussion at the ORIGIN Conference highlighted the importance of collective efforts and innovative solutions in creating a greener future in Southeast Asia. The entrepreneurs and investors underscored the significance of sustainability in driving business decisions and the need for collaboration across sectors to address environmental challenges effectively.