Asian governments step in for start-ups amid private capital downturn

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The topline:

  • According to DealStreetAsia data, the start-up fundraising rollercoaster in Asia this year has plunged off a cliff compared to the thrilling heights of the previous year. Like going from Formula 1 to bumper cars, it’s a wild ride.

Unravelled: In Southeast Asia and India, funding amassed in the entire first half of this year was less than that in the first quarter of 2022. The steepest fall in funding was witnessed in Southeast Asia, at 58.6%.


Asian Governments are becoming Venture Capitalists

Here’s the juicy part – governments across the ASEAN region are becoming the early-stage financiers with funding initiatives for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are bold enough to set up shop in their markets. Let’s take a look:

  • In Singapore, the government is ready to co-invest in start-ups with savvy external investors.
  • Thailand isn’t one to be left behind; they’re keen to replicate Singapore’s magic formula, even offering tax-free capital gains from startup share sales. Talk about tempting.
  • Over in Indonesia, they’re cooking up some collaborative magic. The SME ministry is partnering up with private companies and universities to hatch new incubators for start-ups.
  • And in Malaysia, the budget pie just got a bit sweeter with an extra RM44 billion for Malaysia-based SMEs to fuel up on financing and loans.


Start Me Up

Australia isn’t sitting on the sidelines. The Australian playbook is full of SME-focused initiatives for entering Southeast Asia.

  • The Australian government is throwing $20 million set aside for a “Business Exchange” to help Australian businesses level up.
  • They’re dedicating $5 million to launch a pilot internship program for the young guns, the future disruptors.
  • Breakthrough Victoria is opening doors for start-ups to partner up and make their mark in the Southeast Asian markets.
  • The Landing Pads program by Austrade offers a springboard into international waters.
  • Market accelerator Haymarket HQ is unleashing fresh programmes into Southeast Asia, including the vibrant landscape of Vietnam.


Despite the rollercoaster ride that’s been 2023, it looks like the startup world is in for an exhilarating ascent into Southeast Asia, and Australia is in pole position to lead the charge.


This is one of a six-part series looking at the business opportunities for businesses across the Australia – Southeast Asia corridor. The insights are powered by Via Communications Group: a communications agency focused on supporting businesses with their Asia cross-border communications needs.

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