Tom Moyes, Project Director at the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) presented research on funding for startups at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) workshop on promoting innovation for startups. The 2-day workshop took place in Hanoi, Viet Nam, where opening remarks were given by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Other attendees invited to speak include representatives from the Beacon Agency Canada, APAC MSMEs Trade Coalition, WIPO Singapore and Topica Founder Institute. Viet Nam Government bodies present include the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam Angel Investor Network, and National Agency Technology of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Development (NATEC).

Moyes was invited to speak during two out of eight sessions. In the first session, he gave an overview on innovation and startups in the region with a focus on status, trends, key features, advantages and disadvantages. In the second session, Moyes shared MBI’s experience in access to funding for startups, as well as information on ongoing supportive initiatives for innovation-based startups.

The presentations highlighted the importance of facilitating cross-border relationships, technology transfer, mentorship programs, and connecting local ecosystems to global networks. Moyes also discussed the funding environment, including the professionalization of angel networks, the role of crowdfunding, and how best the government can work with the ecosystem.

Viet Nam has a particularly rich startup ecosystem for the region, with hundreds of promising startups, various incubators and innovation hubs, a burgeoning relationship with the government, and increasing funding avenues.

MBI currently heads four innovation platforms in four key sectors across the region. The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) accelerator seeks to propel the tourism and hospitality industry. The Mekong Agritech Challenge (MATCh) is aimed at improving agricultural efficiency using the latest technology. Smart City and The Fintech Challenge are aimed at urban development and financial technology respectively.

Funding avenues remain one of the most talked about topics with regard to startup ecosystems, and MBI will continue to work with governments and financial institutions across the region to facilitate access for startups. MBI is sponsored by the Government of Australia and the Asian Development Bank.