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Huawei will be investing $100 million to grow the start-up ecosystem in the Asia Pacific and bring new economic and social value to the region. This was announced by Jeffery Liu, president for Asia Pacific Region of Huawei at the inaugural Spark Founders Summit, which took place simultaneously in Singapore and Hong Kong on 3 August. Investments will be channeled over the next three years to the Spark incubation and accelerator programme to springboard start-ups to scale-ups, regarded as the future growth engine for economies.

Launched in August 2020, the Spark accelerator programme will also be expanding beyond Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Thailand, to include new start-up hubs, namely Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. By stretching its start-up horizon, Huawei aims to onboard a total of 1,000 start-ups to contribute to the socioeconomic prosperity of the region.

Supported by SGInnovate, Association and Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME), and Singapore Tourism Board, the Spark Founders Summit was attended by ecosystem partners including government agencies, venture capitalists, enterprises, academia, and founders to harness thought leadership from policy-makers, investors, and entrepreneurs. Dialogues and discussions centred around innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the socioeconomic benefits to the region.

In his opening address, Kurt Wee, president of Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) said: "Given the emphasis on digital innovation and deep tech in recent years, local SMEs that embark on the Huawei Spark programme can stand to benefit greatly from Huawei’s wealth of experience and technological capabilities. Through the programme, SMEs will be able to leverage additional resources to grow and innovate, as well as be exposed to a wider range of opportunities and potential partners."

Lauding Huawei’s contribution in a panel discussion involving government agencies in Singapore and Hong Kong, Dr Lim Jui, CEO of SGInnovate said: “The true impact of the Deep Tech Economy is realised when we’re able to come together to catalyse new opportunities. Working alongside partners like Huawei enables us to accomplish our mission of supporting promising talent and emerging tech start-ups in Singapore.”

Echoing this sentiment, Edwin Chow, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Singapore said: “In Singapore, government officials work with venture capitals and corporates to pick up businesses. It is also a role that big companies can play. I was very impressed by this morning’s sharing about Huawei’s plan with Spark as well as the cloud services. If they can combine the typical strength of large corporate, like industrial capacity resources and good market channels, as a platform for hungry smart entrepreneurs to take advantage of, we can help to speed up the time to market, speed up the product that fit market more, and increase the likelihood of the start-up survival.”

Leveraging cloud capabilities to grow an inclusive and sustainable start-up ecosystem

At the summit, Huawei also launched its Cloud-plus-Cloud Collaboration and Joint Innovation Programme to harness cloud-plus-cloud synergy, integrating enterprise software, industry SaaS, Internet applications, and device cloud to build a full-scenario enterprise cloud service platform and ecosystem to bolster start-ups’ tech capabilities. Both Huawei Cloud and Huawei Mobile Service (HMS) will invest US$40 million to jumpstart this initiative.

Sharing on Huawei’s supportive role in an increasingly connected world, Jay Chen, vice president, Asia Pacific Region, Huawei said: “Huawei launches cloud-based solutions to help start-ups and SMEs to achieve digital transformation. As an ICT leader and ecosystem partner, Huawei continually harnesses innovations in ICT technologies such as cloud, 5G and AI to help raise industries and promote economic regeneration and growth.”

Huawei’s tech stack, comprising of Huawei Cloud and HMS, will power start-ups from all industries. Currently, 4.5 million developers from over 170 countries and regions rely on HMS. This year, Huawei plans to support 200 start-ups in this global HMS ecosystem. Together, startups and developers from around the world can forge synergistic collaborations to serve Huawei’s 1 billion device users and tap on the growth potential of a burgeoning mobile industry.

While all start-ups have the potential to transform economies, Leo Jiang, chief digital officer of Huawei Cloud Asia Pacific Region noted, “One of the biggest challenges faced by start-ups is a Series A crunch. 90% of start-ups are not able to go beyond Series A not because they lack resources or technological competence, but because it has stagnated. Spark provides a number of support structures to serve as a growth engine for start-ups to become scale-ups. What differentiates us from other incubators are a world-class tech stack and a global ecosystem.”

Huawei also introduced three additional initiatives: Spark Developer Programme to nurture a developer ecosystem powered by Huawei Cloud; Spark Pitstop Programme to onboard and support start-ups on Huawei Cloud to accelerate product development; and Spark Innovation Programme (SIP), focused on facilitating enterprise innovation through the Spark ecosystem. Together, these initiatives provide a robust start-up framework founded on cloud-plus-cloud collaborations, continuous tech innovations, global and local services, as well as high-quality business ecosystems.

Scantist, a start-up that provides cybersecurity services, as well as one of the winners of Huawei Spark 2020 is an example of a high-growth start-up that has benefited tremendously under the Spark programme. Through Huawei’s optimized cloud services and infrastructure, Scantist has experienced a threefold jump in performance, and reduced costs by about 15%. Scantist also receives exposure to global ecosystem partners like venture capitalists and C-suite executives, and advisory on market positioning, go-to-market strategies, and new ways of enterprise engagements to supercharge growth. Their scale-up journey is further expedited through the Spark Fire programme to sell-to, sell-with, and sell-through Huawei. Through these efforts, Scantist recently reached the Series A funding stage.

Lending venture capitalist perspective in a separate panel discussion, Kuo-Yi Lim, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Monk’s Hill Ventures said: “Huawei has certainly amplified the vibrancy of the tech ecosystem in Southeast Asia with its active engagement and differentiated value-add. Its position as a strong player in both enterprise and consumer spaces presents significant partnership opportunities for companies in Singapore and the region.”

David De Cremer, Provost Chair and Professor at National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School opined: “Huawei is one of big killer communication giants in the world, that’s very well positioned when it comes down to technology and technology that matters to our companies as well as to our society. In Singapore, what we see with the start-ups, innovation matters, but we also want to have an impact on our society. We need these big companies to support the ecosystem of start-ups. Without their support, it becomes more difficult. I’d love to see that collaboration emerging on.”

One of the fastest-growing cloud service providers in the region, currently ranked the fourth cloud provider in the Asia Pacific, Huawei Cloud is a key enabler for pervasive connectivity and intelligence. Huawei continually invests and research on cloud innovations and its Cloud-Native 2.0, for instance, represents a new stage of intelligent upgrade for enterprises and start-ups to support digital transformation that combines new cloud and legacy capabilities.

Foo Fang Yong, CEO of Huawei International shared, “We are closely collaborating with our partners to digitally and sustainably transform all businesses regardless of size, bring key players across sectors together, and revolutionize the way we live, work, and play. Through our Huawei Spark programme and other new initiatives, we are committed to increasing support for start-ups and SMEs to help them harness the advantages of cloud synergy and build a more connected and intelligent world.”

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