Sixty percent of the entire world’s population can be found in Asia; the region also boasts the fastest growth rate of the middle class. While that alone would be enough to convince a global business to pay close attention to the region, president of Asia Pacific & Japan, Global Digital Cities at Dell Technologies, Amit Midha, said the region is also one to watch when it comes to innovation.
“Asia is the fastest growing business for us, we’re continually investing here, but the innovation is even more exciting,” he said, addressing media at the Dell Women Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Summit in Singapore on Monday.
“No global company can actually ignore what’s happening in Asia. Particularly, China has really come about, but India is the single largest, untapped market from a consumption perspective that exists globally — so we’re pretty excited about what can happen.”
Touching on a few specific areas of innovation, Midha pointed to 5G, calling it the “one game-changer that is here and now”, pointing out South Korean and Japan as countries that have embraced innovation.
“Korea has already — Korea is the leader in the connectivity side — [launched 5G]; 1.25 million subscribers and growing rapidly, some of our telco partners have launched 5G. 5G is really — you are creating an IT-like data centre to run a telco,” he said.
“The second one is autonomous cars and what’s happening in Tokyo, Japan. Some of the large manufacturers, how they are not only building a car — because building a car is just the starting point, but the whole system — how does the charging happen, how does the insurance industry evolve … all of those things have to be talked about and I think that’s happening significantly as well.”
Similarly, Midha said, there is a lot of room for innovation in robotics and automation.
“That’s exponentially going up and up and China has the highest amount of robots and growing, and Japan is leading the way in next-generation robotics and what’s possible,” he continued.
“I can go on, but the point is this is not necessarily a cheap place to just manufacture, or just to market, but it’s also a great innovation engine. The amount of VC funding that is going on in China and India now is starting to rival some of the US funding so I’m pretty excited about what’s happening in the marketplace.”
According to Midha, the “hot cities” in the Asia-Pacific region are Beijing, Shenzhen, Bengaluru, Gurugram, and Singapore.
“Sometimes when I hear their stories about what they’re doing, it blows my mind. Literally world class and amazing, changing the world,” he continued.
Midha said size is no longer the advantage when it comes to being a successful company, rather speed and innovation is.
But it isn’t just the technology itself; Midha said the business case for diversity and women entrepreneurs is “super strong” in the Asia-Pacific.
“The success rate of companies that have more diverse founding teams is significantly higher,” he explained.
“In Asia, 60% of the higher performing startups have female as a co-founding or founding member verses 43% in the US.
“This is kind of a system switchover where culturally the changes are happening but in certain pockets. Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore are making good progress, these are the top three cities out of Asia and good work is coming out of Bangalore and Tokyo as well.”
A closer look at Australia
Speaking with ZDNet about the results of the Dell Technologies’ 2019 Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index, which ranked 50 global cities based on their ability to foster the growth of women-owned businesses, Dell Technologies Australia & New Zealand managing director Angela Fox touched on the state of startups and entrepreneurial diversity down under.
After crowning the San Francisco Bay Area as the number one spot for supporting women entrepreneurs, the index saw Sydney and Melbourne the top cities in the Asia-Pacific region, coming in at 12th and 13th position, respectively, while Singapore came in at position 21.
See also: The state of women in computer science: An investigative report [PDF download] (TechRepublic cover story)
“Sydney and Melbourne continue to improve … Sydney held its place and Melbourne improved, a standout in some of the categories,” Fox said.
“I think where our opportunity still remains in Australia is to take this research and really have an impact with the policymakers around what we could change, to continue to move us forward in their overall framework.”
Melbourne ranked second most improved for percentage of the population with a tertiary education, and most improved for both percentage of women with a tertiary education and percentage of the labour force employed in IT.
But APAC is the second-lowest region in terms of board members who are women, although Sydney and Melbourne did get honourable mentions in the index with regards to this indicator.
Although Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane for example weren’t measured in the index, Fox said the reality is that the Sydney and Melbourne findings can be easily translated into other parts of Australia. It can also be translated over the Tasman to New Zealand, with Fox saying both markets are relatively similar.
“I think the same barriers probably exist across both countries,” she said.
“I think some of the inhibitors that are highlighted, the access to capital, those sorts of things — there’s still inhibitors to the success of entrepreneurs, but we’ve got a lot of great examples also that are doing incredibly well. And a lot of those individuals are not only succeeding, potentially, in the Australian market, but they’re now looking at how they’re actually expanding.”
“It’s alive and well. Do we want to see more of it? Do we believe that even more females could be contributing to the success of the Australian economy and beyond? Absolutely.”
Disclaimer: Asha Barbaschow travelled to DWEN as a guest of Dell Technologies