UMG Idealab, the venture builder and venture capital firm established by Kiwi Aliwarga, founder and executive chairman of Myanmar-based UMG Group of companies, recently announced that it had funded approximately 60 promising startups in Southeast Asia. Half of the funding went to Indonesian startups, with the rest spread across startups in Myanmar, Thailand and China. UMG Idealab was established by Kiwi Aliwarga with the aim of accelerating the technological progress and growth of Indonesia’s budding ecosystem through research and development in sustainable technology solutions.
Thus far, UMG Idealab has been involved in the research and development of several emerging technologies by working together with local Indonesian startups, said Kiwi Aliwarga. Some examples include research and development of passenger drones through startup Frogs, biotechnology through Biotech, and development of renewable energy including batteries through Lectro. Other areas of technology that UMG Idealab is involved in include smart speaker technology and the development of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) technology in the Indonesian language. Kiwi further added that the venture capital firm is building an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research and Education Center with Universitas Indonesia with the aim of accelerating deep tech, such as the field of robotics, big data and voice recognition technology, to support the growth of Industry 4.0 in the country.
Heading into 2020, UMG Idealab will put its focus on three critical matters: climate change, inequality and the development of small-to-medium enterprises (SMES) in Indonesia. These three areas of focus are considered based on the fact that Indonesia is inseparable from the influence of global climate change, which has a definite impact on Indonesia’s economy and ecosystem.
Kiwi stated that around 13 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the process of food production and transportation, and that these numbers can be lowered by minimizing the process of food transportation. He goes on to cite one of their startups, Fistx, which concentrates on fish and shrimp farming in cities so that it can reduce transportation costs and limit carbon footprint. Another startup that Kiwi brought up is Lectro, which produces batteries for households, factories and power plants that are capable of reducing carbon footprint in the electricity production and generation process.
In order to address spreading inequality in the region, UMG Idealab is walking their talk by funding and collaborating with several local startups and companies that operate in a wide range of important economic sectors, such as fintech platforms for business development, edtech, healthtech, and logistics technology. The firm expects that their effort will help to further lower the country’s inequality gap, and help support the Indonesian government in resolving the issue of inequality in the areas of education, healthcare, logistics and job employment. Some of the startups that the firm has funded to address these issues are Skilloka, Bukku and Prosehat.
As for the country’s SMES, UMG Idealab is working together with local startups such as Starchain, Botika, Legalku and Aruna, in order to provide a comprehensive ecosystem that includes a wide range of solutions and services for the progression and development of SMEs, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), point of sales, AI, human resources, robotic, fintech, legal services and logistics.
Looking forward to 2020, UMG Idealab aims to develop more sustainable technology solutions that can help address the issues of climate change and inequality while advancing the growth of SMES in Southeast Asia by funding promising startups in the region. With UMG Idealab putting a spotlight on Indonesia’s startup ecosystem, the country may well produce several noteworthy companies in the years to come.