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Since 1997, the AsiaBerlin Summit (formerly Asia-Pacific Week) has offered a unique international platform for interdisciplinary European-Asian dialogue about politics, business, science, research, and culture.
The summit focuses on the internationalization of startups across sectors such as Smart Cities/UrbanTech, HealthTech, FinTech, industry 4.0, AI, and Blockchain. In 2020, we organized our first hybrid AsiaBerlin Summit with a substantial online presence of speakers and an audience from Asia and Europe. This year, we also opened doors to an exclusive investor conference on the third day of the Summit with venture capitalists, family offices, and business angels from Asia and Germany, expanding our stakeholder network.
It is hard to capture the excitement of over 1500 attendees, five days, 175 speakers, 50 + panels/keynotes, and nine stages with just one perspective. So, we will let the numbers speak for themselves: our participants engaged in over 3600 chat messages on our online networking tool Brella, and there were around 4300 communications between participants just to arrange one-on-one meetings after the summit. The engagement rates were higher than expected, with users logging in every day to interact; the numbers were almost double those of the previous year, when the event was entirely offline.
The essence of the 2020 AsiaBerlin Summit was well-captured in the opening speech of Ramona Pop, Berlin Mayor and Senator for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises:
“2020 is the year that turned our plans upside down. A year that once again showed us how interconnected our world is in addition to other tragedies that broke out this year. It shows one thing, how we as a strong community can emerge from a crisis, and how important the mutual exchange in overcoming a crisis is. This crisis acts like an accelerator for digitalization, the way we work together, and how we communicate. I am therefore pleased to be able to welcome everyone at Asia Berlin Summit, one of the rare physical meetings this year connecting Asia to Europe. This event is a great signal — we will go on! “
Corporates, investors and startups all see immense value in the summit from different perspectives. Asian investors are now looking at Europe for increased opportunities. Berlin startups as well as corporates are looking for internationalization into various markets, including Asia. The AsiaBerlin Summit is the place where we connect these dots and make meaningful connections.
Cedrik Neike, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens and CEO of Smart Infrastructure stresses the relevance of Asia as an opportunity for Europe:
“Three things are changing the world radically – Technology, the business model behind it and Asia. 60% of the world population is living in Asia. It’s young, it wants to grow, and we need to bring Europe and Asia together to help each other. The Asia Berlin Summit is perfect for that. Because even in times of COVID, we have to come closer together to help each other rather than being apart.”
Stefani Lu, a consultant for expansion into China talks about her experiences in Berlin and connection to Asia,
“I was not afraid of Berlin because I see [that] the government is doing a lot of things to connect with China. I got a lot of help, and connections here at the AsiaBerlin Summit. I think for China, if you have the right connector and you know the right person — you shouldn’t be afraid of it because we’re trying to facilitate everything we know about China to help you with the business.”
Volker Hofmann, CEO Humboldt-Innovation GmbH summaries why AsiaBerlin Summit is relevant to him:
“Coming from the academic startup ecosystem in Berlin, AsiaBerlin Summit was the perfect place to build a network for our internationalisation program. With “Bridge to China” we enable young science-based startups to decode the Chinese Market and get a full understanding of its opportunities and its risks. AsiaBerlin Summit really helped us find the right partners and mentors who want to join us on that journey.”
Finally, we invite founders such as Naren Shaam, CEO and Founder, Omio GmbH, to talk about their journey of becoming a unicorn entrepreneur in the city of Berlin as a foreigner. We see Berlin’s startup ecosystem as a gateway to business in Europe, and the many thriving ecosystems across Asia as opportunities for new understanding and growth. We are excited that the AsiaBerlin summit has developed into a space where we can highlight important similarities, differences, and opportunities across Asia and Berlin and celebrate global innovation together.
Diksha is the Head of Communications at AsiaBerlin