The Vision of AsiaBerlin
AsiaBerlin is our vision, our strategy and our community!
Startups strongly depend on international contacts to get access to talent, markets, finance, innovative ideas and development resources. AsiaBerlin is the vision of an interconnected startup ecosystem in a globalized world, a vision that replaces the idea of powerful local ecosystems such as Silicon Valley.
But why Asia?
Frankly, not many Berlin startups look toward Asia. But Asia is a continent with a massive population that boasts strong economic growth, a rapid speed of innovation and fast-growing startup ecosystems with herds of unicorns. Yet at the same time, the continent is fraught with economic, social, demographic, ecological and cultural challenges. In one sentence: Asia is the ideal place for hungry startups. Asia is a challenge, but startups are conceived to tackle challenges. And AsiaBerlin was built to support them.
But why Berlin?
Frankly, not many Asian startups consider Berlin as their first destination for international scaling. But Berlin is the ideal partner for Asian startups and investors who are eager to scale in Europe. Berlin is home to 4% of Germany’s population but 30% of all German startups are based here and more than 50% of German startup
investment happens in the city. Berlin startups acquired more than 4 billion euro in funding in the first half of 2021 alone, exceeding the total amount raised in 2020, which already was an exceptional year in spite of COVID-19. These investments make Berlin a fertile unicorn breeding ground. As a diverse, young, innovative and international city with a growing and mostly English-speaking startup ecosystem, Berlin is likely the strongest partner for Asia in the European Union — even more so since Brexit.
Berlin and its open and creative environment, numerous large corporations and research institutes attract skilled entrepreneurs and talent from all over the world.
AsiaBerlin is a vision to unite the brightest brains and most innovative startups of our ecosystems as the basis for future economic growth and ecological solutions worldwide. Within AsiaBerlin we develop answers for urgent questions concerning our climate, environment, cities, security and diversity in a collaborative process. AsiaBerlin is the strategy to position Berlin as a partner for, and a part of, Asia’s most innovative startup hubs.
Building startup networks between our continents is a long-term project and not a simple task. The cultural barriers between Asia and Europe are still quite high and internationalization is a complicated task for all small companies with their limited management capacities. To reduce these barriers, we are bringing startups, investors, corporates and private and public support organizations together through AsiaBerlin to build up personal trust, which is the basis for intercontinental cooperation. Hence, it is worth it to work hard and long to facilitate these connections and establish cooperation!
AsiaBerlin is made up of pioneers connecting our two ecosystems and uniting our best and most innovative people to develop answers for pressing global questions! It is with personal pride that I can say AsiaBerlin is a powerful and highly motivated community pursuing a common mission.
Activities in India
As part of AsiaBerlin’s activities in India, four events focusing on the Indian ecosystem took place in 2021. The topics were artificial intelligence, market entry strategies into India, female entrepreneurship and sustainable urban mobility. Each of the events focused on bringing together accelerators, innovation leaders from corporates, and startups from Berlin and India.
The first event tackled data exchange in the global AI landscape. It explored how India and Germany can be partners in the global AI sector by complementing and leveraging each other’s capabilities.
The key takeaway was that there is a need to adopt smart and optimized data-sharing processes so that AI startups can develop and scale. The second event was organized within the framework of our Female Entrepreneurs in Berlin and India (FEBI) project. The session’s headline was “Fostering Investments for Women-led Indian Startups” and focused on investment opportunities as well as overcoming biases for women-led startups. It also contained some great success stories of startups en route to internationalizing in Berlin.
The event “Sustainable Urban Mobility: The Future of Transportation in Berlin and Bangalore” took place during the AsiaBerlin Summit. We discussed the relevance of modernizing urban mobility during the pandemic. The key takeaway was that Berlin and Bangalore face similar challenges, creating a need for startups to internationalize and co-innovate.
We closed the year with the “Go To Market Strategy for Germany: An Indian Perspective” session, which focused on intellectual property, sales, legal and taxation elements for market entry into Berlin for Indian startups. The session focussed on online networking and dove deep into the internationalization journey of startups.
enpact and AsiaBerlin also started an exclusive impact investor chapter this year. We kicked off the year with internal workshops on investor relations. Our goal was to develop a program that is understanding the intricacies of attracting and sustaining impact investors in our network. One of the most important pillars for startups are investors, and the stronger we as AsiaBerlin are on this pillar, the stronger the bridge we’re building will be.
We began promising conversations with venture capital firms, business angels, limited partners and high-net-worth individuals. We understood their challenges with cross-border investments and their aspirations to form a network like AsiaBerlin. The top three challenges in cross-border investments as cited by our group of investors were:
- Lack of understanding of foreign markets
- Concerns about regulatory frameworks and a lack of safeguards for money as foreign citizens
- Lack of deal flow from foreign countries
One of our first initiatives was the launch of an investors club. Here, in an exclusive monthly meeting, our network of investors came together to look at potential deals and brainstorm new ideas to promote cross-border investments. Our personal highlight was the successful implementation of a full “Investor’s Day” with 45+ participants. A lot of interaction and many discussions took place around various topics like the sharing of best practices in each part of the world, investment hypothesis on exciting trends in respective geographies, crossbreeding unicorns, the importance of applying a multi-racial lens to uncover tech opportunities of the future, Indo-German investment potential, and many more. We have the full video recording of our exciting event and are happy to share it with you (reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details).
Looking back and looking forward
Looking back, this year has been full of exciting conversations, connections and experiences. We did our part in keeping the AsiaBerlin network engaged and excited despite the circumstances. Our new components of the Landing Pad and the roll out of impact investing were successful and both initiatives are currently growing. We are excited about offering even more engagement opportunities with our partners in Asia to make the next year equally fruitful and are looking forward to seeing more of you at our AsiaBerlin activities in 2022!
Find more insights into the startup ecosystem in Asia and Berlin and the cooperation routes in the 3rd edition of enpact’s Yearbook!