These last few years has been the most obvious period of technological advancement (from a business perspective, not innovation) that Asia has taken the front seat. 2017 was probably the first time Southeast Asia got any serious air time, especially with the slowdown in India diverting some of the attention away from that.

So what did we see in 2017 in Southeast Asia?

2017 was the year of ride-sharing and crypto

Grab took a clear lead over Uber in the region. Some argue this is debatable but likely due to the concentration of funds and a clear focus in the region.

Cryptocurrency and ICOs, in particular, took stage front and centre, with insane amounts of money being thrown into an industry very few fully understand.

The shared office wars have started and Southeast Asia is the latest battlefield. WeWork, UrWork and a host of others vying for lucrative space and market share amongst the startup and SME market. What was seen as a sub-tech industry play, has been shown to be an aggressive real estate play, meaning more capital intensive, but with a higher payout at the end.

Bicycle-sharing startups are now a thing

Bicycles became a thing. I still don’t fully understand why, but everywhere you look, you see bicycles. Players like Ofo, oBike, and others have taken over every bicycle rack around the region.

Bike sharing startups are changing the world

It looks to be a growing industry, that is if people can stop throwing them away or damaging them for no reason.

Startup funding continues to be strong

Funding remains strong in the region. New funds entered the region while some notable startups continued to suck up all the money. Grab continues to be on a roll, bringing in another US$2B to fund their growth.

We’re on track to see around 500 deals being made in the region which will be a new record, with over US$6.5B in disclosed funding so far.

funding for startups in Southeast Asia
Image: CB Insights

In specific industry news, there continues to be surprising and strong growth in healthtech, with notable funding for MyDoc and Biofourmis.

MyDoc is one of the leading healthtech startups in Asia

Image courtesy MyDoc

Perhaps the biggest surprise this year is that we don’t think this is the end of the growth of the industry. New sub-industries and categories are popping up, building traction in an increasingly open market.

There are endless possibilities to the direction in which technology can grow. 2018 might be the time for Southeast Asia to take its place as a driver for aggressive growth.

To read more articles like this one, visit our Voices section.

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