South East Asia | EU Gateway | Business Avenues

South East Asia

EU Business Avenues in South East Asia

The new edition of EU Gateway | Business Avenues returned to South East Asia in 2016, assisting European companies to scope out business opportunities in the region, offering business matchmaking services, logistical support, and industry-specific coaching. Through several business missions, comprising large-scale exhibitions, site visits and networking events, countless Europe companies were seamlessly introduced to doing business in Asia.

Banking on the previous pilot experience in the ASEAN markets, EU Gateway | Business Avenues facilitated 20 new targeted week-long business missions in the region, focusing on seven key sectors — Green Energy Technologies, Healthcare & Medical Technologies, Environment & Water Technologies, Information & Communication Technologies, Construction & Building Technologies, Organic Food & Beverage and Contemporary European Design. Throughout the years, the newly adopted Free Trade Agreements (the Singapore agreement negotiations carried all through 2018 entered into force in 2019, and the Vietnam agreement entered into force in 2020) strengthened these ties and opened new paths for European innovators in a variety of fields.

In five short years, the 20 business missions amassed formidable results.

  • The EU-funded business missions gathered 3525 expressions of interest from companies from across 26 of the EU member states.
  • Approximately 900 companies took part in the missions to whopping success. The business exhibitions drew in stupendous crowds of visitors from prominent Asian companies, institutions and organizations — nearly 20,000 people walked the grounds of the European product exhibitions. The invite-only networking events also drew in over 2100 guests, allowing for more exclusive one-on-one conversations happening on the spot. Over 10,200 business meetings were organised by the Programme before the start of the mission weeks and more than 11,500 useful business meetings were eventually held with local companies during the mission week events.
  • All in all, these business encounters made space for remarkable breakthroughs in the targeted sectors, for the participating companies as well as the business landscape in general. This means that the Environment & Water Technologies, Green Energy Technologies, Healthcare & Medical Technologies, ICT, Construction & Building Technologies, Organic Food & Beverage, and Contemporary European Design sectors in Europe and Asia have been positively impacted  for good.
  • Many companies increased their staff to supplement the growing demands from Asian markets. The first 16 missions alone generated more than 2750 new jobs in Europe within one year from the exhibitions in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. On the business end of things, out of 565 respondents from our survey, 183 companies reported they concluded sales or signed contracts shortly after participating in a mission and 181 more were expecting to do so with the contacts established during the events. 83% of the companies shared they either established long-lasting business collaborations or expected to do so in the future. 172 of these companies declared an increase in turnover, linked to the target market they were able to reach with the help of the Programme.


Environment & Water Technologies


EU Gateway | Business Avenues organised several business missions in South East Asia with the unique goal of bringing together the most high-profile stakeholders in this sector, from South East Asia as well as Europe, and boost trade in the industry. There’s a diverse palette of enthralling opportunities for European companies in this sector, especially those offering clever solutions like sensors and instrumentation, water treatment methods, water delivery systems, e-waste recycling technologies, building environment and green architecture systems.

The inaugural business mission in this sector was split between exhibitions at the Singapore International Water Week and several days in Vietnam in 2016. The mission was the starting point of numerous very successful collaborations.

Finnish company Pegasor, specialised in the field of particle emission monitoring, found two Singaporean partners after networking at the Singapore International Water Week and the stand-alone exhibition in Vietnam. 

Our credibility would be quite low if we had come here alone.  But as part of EU Gateway | Business Avenues our credibility is much higher. For us the difference is huge. –  Markku Rajala, VP Sales, Marketing and IPR, Pegasor OY (Finland)

Well Pumps, a Belgian producer of water pumping solutions found a local partner in Vietnam: 

The new partner has a lot of relations with state-owned companies in Vietnam: this is a network which we wouldn’t have access to, if it wasn’t for them and the EU Gateway | Business Avenues Programme that pre-arranged the meeting. – Simon Laurent, International Sales Manager, Well Pumps (Belgium)

Partech was another success:

EU Gateway | Business Avenues allows small companies to have a presence at large events, and pre-arranges one to one business meetings with key decision-makers. – David Wilson, Sales Manager, Partech (UK)

A myriad of successful business collaborations ensued for LG Sonic, OxyMem, Solwa and Ecoceane:

Due to climate change, average temperatures are increasing, and droughts are more frequent and intense. As a result, algal blooms within freshwater lakes occur more often and are more severe. Furthermore, the business mission to South East Asia helped us to grow our market. – Yousef Yousef, CEO, LG Sonic (The Netherlands)

We see how EU Gateway | Business Avenues can help companies establish a presence and get in touch with various people at various levels across a number of industries and markets. Although our resources were limited, we recognised the need to invest in new relationships in our earlier years and we look forward to using EU Gateway | Business avenues as a platform going forward. – Eoin Syron, Technical Director and Co-Founder, OxyMem (Ireland)

Thanks to the information we got from EU Gateway | Business Avenues, we are redesigning our machines to be more attractive to South East Asian countries. – Paolo Franceschetti, Managing Director, Solwa (Italy)

We would very much like to apply to other missions. Either to enter a new country to find local agents or to return to the same country to renew connections with previous contacts and meet end users instead of partners. – Ivan Janeau, Engineer in Naval Architecture, Ecoceane (France)

The Singapore International Water Week 2018 was another amazing occasion for the European selected companies to exhibit their products and services to a local enthusiastic crowd. This second mission for the Environment & Water Technologies sector took place in 2018 in Singapore and Malaysia. 44 companies from 14 countries had the chance to meet distributors and key potential partners in the region. 

The number of the European companies increased in the third business mission that took place in March 2019 in Singapore and the Philippines, at Water Expo Philippines, where almost 8,500 trade visitors roamed the product exhibitions. Companies specialised in flood management technologies, solid waste management systems and recycling technologies participated in pre-arranged meetings, exhibitor spotlight sessions and networking events.

Later in 2020, a fourth business mission focused on Environment & Water Technologies is set to focus on Singapore and Malaysia. Here, more opportunities linked to membrane technology for desalinated water, sludge and brine management, decentralised water treatment technologies await the participants. EU companies are expected to join the ASIAWATER 2020 virtual tradeshow to explore opportunities in Malaysia and to use video conferencing to hold B2B meetings with prospects in Singapore.


Green Energy Technologies


South East Asia represents a massive opportunity for pioneering European companies in the Green Energy Technologies sector. Singapore is looking to expand wind energy, biomass, tidal energy, smart grids, green buildings, energy efficiency, carbon services and reduce energy intensity by 35% by 2030. Indonesia has set out to achieve 23% renewable energy use by 2025 and 31% by 2050. Malaysia is also focused on green development and has ambitious plans to become a Green Technology hub by 2030.

The first business mission targeting Green Energy Technologies took place in Singapore and Malaysia in 2016. It included exhibition days at Asia Clean Energy Summit in Singapore, part of Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW2016), followed by more site visits and exhibitions in Kuala Lumpur. 

ClimaCheck, a Swedish Cleantech company, was selected to join this mission. Since 2016, the company has collaborated with new distributors in Singapore and has gained local partners in Malaysia. 

We have many interesting ongoing discussions and are optimistic about future growth in the region. The EU Gateway | Business Avenues missions we have participated in have given us a possibility to learn more about the markets and connect directly with key players in a cost-effective way. We have established a wider network than what we could have done without this EU-funded initiative. – Klas Berglöf, CEO, ClimaCheck (Sweden).

After the success of the first mission, the European companies in the Green Energy Technologies sector could participate in a second business mission. This time the event took place in Singapore and the Philippines in 2017. During the first three days, the selected companies exhibited their products and solutions during the Singapore International Energy Week 2017, then travelled to the Philippines for more B2B meetings. Given Singapore’s strong interest in solar energy and the Philippines efforts to boost its clean energy initiatives, European participants found many entry opportunities to exploit. 

The third business mission in the field of Green Energy Technologies took place in 2018. It was once again split between exhibitions in Singapore (during the Singapore International Energy Week 2018) and Indonesia where the selected companies could meet strategic stakeholders in the market. 


Healthcare & Medical Technologies


When it comes to the Healthcare & Medical Technologies sector in South East Asia, Singapore is the medical hub of the region. With an ageing population and a rise in income levels, the country is lacking domestic producers in certain sub-sectors, making way for European companies to bring those into the market. Starting in 2017, EU Gateway | Business Avenues organised four business missions in South East Asia.

The first mission targeted Singapore and Thailand. The selected European companies benefited from pre-arranged face to face business meetings and exhibited both in Singapore and at the Medical Fair Thailand 2017.

EU Gateway | Business Avenues helped to enlarge Meden's footprint in Asia a lot, even if it meant relief from a lot of tedious work or financial effort in one country (…) let alone provided an opportunity to meet and discuss business with other nationals. – Tomasz Gorecki, Export Sales, Meden-Inmed (Poland)

A year later, a second business mission focused on Healthcare & Medical Technologies was organised in Singapore and the Philippines, from 28 August to 4 September 2018. The participants were featured in a promotional campaign run in the Philippines and Singapore and also benefited from pre-arranged business-to-business meetings with potential customers or distributors.

Human Care was one of the companies that didn’t wait long to garner results from the mission.

During the mission in 2018 to Singapore and Manila, we met with a company in Singapore that has become our local distributor. Their name is RehamMart and they now actively promote most products in our portfolio.” – Martin Cederberg, International Sales Director, Human Care HC AB (Sweden)

Another company signed a quick-fire agreement in South East Asia:

This is the fastest contract I have signed in my 20-year business career: under two weeks from introduction to the signing ceremony. – Valer Pop, CEO LifeSense Group (The Netherlands)

In 2019, the third business mission targeted Singapore and Vietnam. In addition to site visits, networking events, market insights from industry experts, the participants exhibited their solutions at Medi Pharm Expo 2019. Solutions linked to issues like ageing, obesity and chronic diseases or diabetes were particularly in demand during this mission, unsurprisingly generating many new trade partnerships between Asian and EU companies.

In 2020, EU Gateway | Business Avenues fourth mission for Healthcare & Medical Technologies targeted Indonesia and Singapore in December, using the Medical Fair Asia 2020 virtual tradeshow platform, in Singapore, and video conferencing for the B2B meetings in both Singapore and Indonesia.


Information & Communication Technologies


With revenues estimated at €156 billion, the Information & Communication Technologies sector in Singapore is teeming with opportunities, making it a major competitor on the global market. The projected growth to €4.5 billion by 2025 of the e-commerce market and the interest in big data and analytics, Internet of Things, cybersecurity, and advanced robotics make it a very attractive option for European companies.

On the other hand, Thailand, as the second-largest buyer of ICT products in the ASEAN region, has a strong demand for SaaS solutions, systems integration, deployment, support or outsourcing. The country also looks to undergo a digital transformation in the public sector and invest in digital literacy and digital solutions.

With such promising opportunities, it’s no wonder Singapore and Thailand were targeted with four business missions.

The first business mission that brought the Information & Communication Technologies sector in the spotlight took place in May 2017, in Singapore and Thailand.

Shortly after, the Slovenian software engineering company XLAB managed to acquire new customers and distributors both in Singapore and Thailand.

I believe that persistence is a key to success in any foreign market. According to my experience of doing business around the world for the past 15 years, I feel that Asian markets are not easy to approach. However, they offer tremendous opportunities to those European companies which accept the challenge and are ready to show a long-term commitment to doing business in Asia. — Jure Pompe, Co-founder & CEO, XLAB (Slovenia)

The Irish company Solgari found two new partners and two high-level customers during this 2017 fruitful mission.

Singapore has massive potential for us and we are working closely with our investor, Enterprise Ireland, in Singapore on all the above and more. We are currently working on a major deal with a Hong Kong insurer with a base in Singapore that we hope to win soon. – Edward Grant, CFO, Solgari (Ireland)

FERNBACH, a company from Luxembourg, specialised in software and consulting, marked another success.

We expect growth of up to 25% due to the EU Gateway | Business Avenues mission. – Denis Diop, Managing Director APAC, FERNBACH (Luxembourg)

The second business mission dedicated to the Information & Communication Technologies field brought another group of trailblazing EU companies to exhibit in Singapore, at NXTAsia, (part of ConnecTechAsia), and in Thailand. This mission took place in 2018, and once more, EU Gateway | Business Avenues helped the selected companies meet influential representatives from local companies. 

The potential for us in this market is huge. (…) We’ve met a lot of experts in the market, so getting knowledge about the market, understanding important details about it and how it operates - that’s the biggest benefit for us on this mission. – Hannes Helenius, Chairman of the Board, Partner, FA Solutions (Finland)

The mission was a game-changer for us, we redesigned our business development efforts. (…) This revamp in our business model resulted from both ICT business missions, I am sure of this, they both kind of ‘opened our eyes’ for this. We are exploring this new business model because of these ICT missions! – Rodrigo Seruya Cabral, Managing Director, ManWinWin (Portugal)

This business mission was followed by a third one, in 2019, once again in Singapore (during CommunicAsia, the biggest trade event in the sector in Asia) and Thailand, where pre-arranged business meetings, networking events and meet-the-exhibitors sessions brought participants new clients and partners.

A fourth business mission took place in 2020, virtually. In the current state of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, NXTAsia/CommunicAsia 2020 was held online, allowing participants to meet relevant business partners in Asia in a secure manner.


Construction Building & Technologies


Residential and non-residential infrastructure projects are on the rise in the ASEAN countries, where the construction demands overcome local capabilities. In Singapore only, the forecast for the sector is to reach between €18.5 billion and €23.2 billion per year in 2022 and 2023. A similarly ambitious programme is also set in place in the Philippines. The Build Build Build Programme dedicated €1.4 billion for infrastructure projects spanning from 2017 to 2022. This fast-paced development presents huge opportunities for European construction companies who can present green and smart building solutions and novel architectural technologies.

EU Gateway | Business Avenues organised two business missions in Singapore and the Philippines to facilitate the encounter between European and ASEAN construction companies. On each occasion, participating companies took part in pre-arranged B2B meetings, networking receptions, and meet-the-exhibitors sessions, in 2019 and 2020. The 2020 mission was organised to take place on the PhilConstruct 2020 virtual tradeshow platform, giving the European construction companies another chance to build long-lasting collaborations in Asia, despite being in the midst of a global pandemic.


Organic Food & Beverage


ASEAN countries show a particular interest in organic foods and beverages and a large share of the market consists of imports. In Singapore only, this sector is expected to reach € 208.1 million by 2021 (where more than 90% of the food consumed is being imported). Thailand, on the other hand, has a steadier development and a sector size evaluated at € 13.69 million.

Due to their premium products and European organic labels, European companies displayed their products during two business missions organised for this sector in South East Asia. First off, during a weeklong of exhibitions and business meetings in Singapore and Vietnam in 2018. Here, the companies met prominent actors of the local food industry and potential buyers. The second mission took place in 2019 and targeted Singapore & Thailand. The companies had the opportunity to exhibit at the 27th edition of Food & Hotel Thailand, a lead food and hospitality event in Thailand, which brought over 30,000 visitors to the booths, creating the right environment for B2B meetings with key food and beverage buyers across all of South East Asia.


Contemporary European Design


Many countries in South East Asia have a growing market place for furniture and design and an acute interest in high-quality products and eco-friendly solutions made in Europe.

In this auspicious climate, EU Gateway | Business Avenues organised a business mission to Singapore and Indonesia in 2017. Over 40 European companies participated in pre-arranged business meetings with local companies and seminars In Indonesia and exhibited their trend-setting products at the International Furniture Fair in Singapore. The high quality, sustainability and simplicity of the European furniture and decor were a hit among the local crowd and marked the beginning of fruitful collaborations between local and European companies. Proof of this is the success stories below:

I really liked the serious preparations which were made as well as all the information: economic situation, income rates, etc. given to participants. It is important to know as much as possible about the markets we are going to step in before travelling there and the business mission gave us his opportunity. Also, not to forget to mention the shared experience from other participants, it was and still is very useful to hear the experience of others in ASEAN countries to understand what is the best way to be attractive there. – Inga Markovska, Project Manager, EMKO (Lithuania)

In my opinion, design is the first thing that Asian companies note. Then all the other features come into play before finalizing the cooperation. Many companies are not used to seeing this high-quality production and design coupled with this historic craftsmanship. – Simone Cavassi, Managing Director, Cizeta L’Abbate (Italy)

Doing business in this area requires patience. Nothing happens very fast and the decision-making processes and all the product testing take a lot of time. But the potential is huge, so it is definitely worth the effort. – Seppo Raijas, CEO, Hukka Design (Finland).

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