Coco Liu
Coco Liu

From AI programmes that polish your English language skills to a firm launching backpack-sized satellites from a barge in the South China Sea, here are some of Southeast Asia’s brightest deep tech start-ups.

Filing taxes using blockchain in Indonesia. Growing better crops in Vietnam with artificial intelligence. Sending rockets into space in Singapore. Southeast Asia is quietly emerging as a breeding ground for new technology.

Cryptocurrencies are no longer the sole domain of hedge fund managers and high-stakes traders – in Southeast Asia they are being used to solve the financial problems of working men and women.


With fears mounting that Donald Trump’s trade war will lock out Chinese firms from US markets, companies seeking to invest in next-generation microchips have found a new source. 

Fears that multibillion-dollar deals between China and Malaysia may no longer have a friend at the top may be premature – after all, the new prime minister has 134 billion reasons to maintain the status quo.

There’s nothing new about foreign investment in Malaysia, as opposition chief Mahathir Mohamad knows well. So why is Chinese money a campaign issue when voters are more concerned about the cost of living?

Runaway property prices have caused the island province to introduce China’s strictest ever restrictions on non-local buyers. Will this curb the excesses of speculators adept at bending the rules? Sceptics just aren’t buying it.

Western funding still dominates India’s start-up scene, but entrepreneurs are turning East for cash and expertise that will keep them viable in the long term.

The Emirates was home to nomads and date farmers until it tapped its oil potential in the 1960s, and now leaders of the Gulf nation are intent to adapt yet again with a transition to sustainable energy.

The great migration of rural workers into China’s cities helped to create the world’s second largest economy. Now a new avenue of growth is opening up, as the rise of e-commerce fuels a reverse migration of entrepreneurs.

Phone apps that encourage students to practise language skills by sharing their progress on social media are proving a hit as companies seek a slice of the US$32 billion e-learning market.

Once billed as a one of a kind zero-carbon footprint city, the project finds itself sorely behind schedule and more or less empty. But some say it still has potential to change one of the world’s biggest consumers into conservationists.

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan is shattering box office records left, right and centre. But can he transform his place in the hearts of everyday Chinese into a bridge between nations?

Only recently has the government started to crack down on the mostly unregulated online platforms but overly trusting elderly investors are still at risk.

The battle between China’s government censors and internet users is far from over, despite the fact that Beijing has successfully killed many domestic VPN apps and brought an American tech giant to its feet.

Silicon Valley take note: in everything from mobile payment systems to news apps, businesses across Southeast Asia look to a new horizon for inspiration – China