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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has released Ethical Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and Biomedical Research. These guidelines apply to AI-based tools for all biomedical and health research and applications involving human participants and/or their biological data.

The recognised applications of AI in healthcare include diagnosis and screening, therapeutics, preventive treatments, clinical decision-making, public health surveillance, complex data analysis, predicting disease outcomes, and health management systems.

To ensure the responsible development and use of AI in healthcare, it is crucial to establish an ethical policy framework that guides decision-making. The ICMR guiding document stated that as AI technologies evolve and are increasingly applied in the healthcare sector, there must be processes that discuss accountability in case of errors.

The document outlined ten ethical principles based on the well-being of patients that must be considered when applying AI technology. These principles include accountability and liability for decisions made, respecting patient autonomy, ensuring data privacy, promoting collaboration, minimising risk, and ensuring safety, striving for accessibility and equity, optimising data quality, preventing discrimination and promoting fairness, and ensuring validity and trustworthiness of AI applications.

The principle of autonomy emphasises the importance of obtaining informed consent from patients, who should also be fully informed of the potential physical, psychological, and social risks associated with AI applications. On the other hand, the principle of safety and risk minimisation aims to prevent any unintended or intentional misuse of AI technology.

The body is responsible for assessing the scientific rigor and ethical aspects of all health research. It will ensure that the proposal is scientifically sound and weigh all potential risks and benefits for the population where the research is being carried out. Informed consent and governance of AI tools in the health sector are other critical areas highlighted in the guidelines. The latter is still in the preliminary stages, even in developed countries.

India has made significant strides in increasing the use of AI and other technologies in healthcare. Emerging technologies are being used to track citizens’ health statuses as well as to monitor health outcomes and identify areas for improvement. Last August, the National Health Authority (NHA) issued hardware guidelines for state and union territory hospitals, clinics, and wellness centres. The aim was to promote digitsation in healthcare institutions. The guidelines briefly describe the required infrastructure for the efficient implementation of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), with a particular focus on quality patient care and the adoption of digital initiatives.

As OpenGov Asia reported, the guidelines provide a basic framework for the planning, assessment, and procurement of the IT hardware (including IT specifications of various hardware equipment) based on the size of the healthcare facility. It enables healthcare providers to operate applications compliant with the ABDM. The document includes guidelines for desktops and laptops; printers; QR code readers; QR code printers; fingerprint scanners; uninterrupted power supply (UPS); and web cameras.

ABDM is a national-level digital health ecosystem that intends to support universal health coverage (UHC) in an accessible, inclusive, and affordable manner, through the provision of big data and infrastructure services, and by leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems. At the same time, the government is keen on ensuring the security, confidentiality, and privacy of health-related personal information.

Within a year of its commencement, the innovative education model FORTE (Financing of Return to Employment) has shown excellent early outcomes for both local career seekers and employers as the first groups of South Australian students transition from training to employment.

The FORTE pilot programme, which commenced in May 2022, is supported by the Department for Industry, Innovation, and Science. It provides high-quality training at no cost, aimed at equipping 150 South Australians with the necessary digital skills to work in the state’s rapidly growing hi-tech sectors.

Under the FORTE model, local training providers such as Generation Australia, General Assembly, _nology, and 42 Adelaide deliver the training, which is initially funded by private investors. Running for a duration of three years, the pilot programme has shown encouraging early indicators. Over 40% of recent FORTE graduates have already secured jobs at various tech companies.

The remaining graduates are currently actively seeking employment and attending interviews, with the FORTE team providing support to ensure they are matched with appropriate job opportunities within the next three to six months.

The South Australian Government will only make repayments under the FORTE model when a participant has demonstrated a successful employment outcome, meaning that they have secured work in their desired field, achieved higher income, and generated higher income tax as a result. By implementing this approach, the FORTE model ensures that the South Australian Government only funds labour force interventions that are effective.

According to the Founder & CEO of FORTE, talent is abundant throughout South Australia, and the programme aims to provide everyone with the opportunity to learn new in-demand skills, attain financial independence, and reach their full potential.

The FORTE model guarantees that the South Australian Government only invests in labour force interventions that have proven effectiveness. The CEO believes that there is an abundance of talent in South Australia and that the programme is designed to provide everyone with an opportunity to learn new in-demand skills, achieve financial independence, and reach their full potential.

The programme aims to help Adelaide become a leading tech hub in the Asia-Pacific region. A great tech talent pipeline is essential for this goal to be achieved. Thus far, the initiative has contributed to bridging the gender divide in the tech industry. Women who are re-entering the workforce, especially those who have taken a break to raise a family, are a valuable talent pipeline that FORTE aims to tap into.

The Forte Tech Program is a three-month full-time training programme aimed at improving the tech skills of participants. The programme also includes career development services to assist participants in securing employment opportunities in the tech industry. These services include introductions to potential employers, assistance in crafting resumes and profiles, and one-on-one coaching.

The programme is entirely remote, enabling participants to work from home while receiving top-quality training, hands-on project experience, and ongoing support. The training focuses on fields such as Data Analytics, Software Development, and Cloud Computing, which offer excellent salaries, and flexibility and are in high demand for the future. In addition, the training comes at no cost to participants.

Director General of Resources and Equipment of Post and Information Technology (SDPPI) at the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, Ismail, revealed that Indonesia is optimising technology by ensuring sufficient digital connection and working in concert with the private sector and the community. For its citizens to make the most of this technology, the government of the Republic of Indonesia is investing heavily in its development.

According to Ismail, Indonesia has a well-balanced strategy of infrastructure development and radio frequency spectrum management in place, which would speed up the nationwide rollout of digital infrastructure. However, Indonesia needs to harness an IoT-based platform that uses the country’s digital infrastructure to speed up digital transformation and promote innovation in day-to-day living.

“The Indonesian government has invested much in expanding access to the internet throughout the country, particularly in rural and isolated areas. While this is happening, the Indonesian government is working to speed up the spread of ICT applications and services across many sectors,” Ismail mentioned in an online session for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prizes 2023 titled “High-Level Policy Session 7: Ethical Dimensions of Information and Knowledge Societies/Bridging Digital Divides”.

The event attended by ministerial representatives from the European Union, Pakistan, Iran, Cambodia, India and the United Arab Emirates were in attendance. In addition, academics and representatives from foreign organisations were also in attendance.

Ismail points out that the government and the private sector need to collaborate with other actors as the infrastructure network expanded. As seen by the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, the business sector was spurred to develop and implement several digitisation programmes in the education, healthcare, and SME support sectors.

“Such as student e-book libraries and e-chat programmes. The programme was designed to help educators and students in their academic pursuits. In addition, there is a database of digital web pages, including about 7,500 pieces of digital information. Using digital technology, they hope to create a more accessible education system for all members of our community, he explained.

Ismail said the programme has the potential to benefit over 40,000 educators and over 600 institutions this academic year through enhanced professional development opportunities. Over 20,000 educators and 16,000 pupils have benefited from private sector capacity development programmes.

The private sector in Indonesia has launched several programmes to aid the growth of SMEs. These programmes provide SMEs with resources, including startup funding, digital marketing courses, and more.

Several private sector personnel and over 16,000 partners began the programme to digitalise small and medium-sized businesses. From this, we can infer that the government is trying to promote the availability of digital services and apps,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the healthcare sector, the private sector helps to produce the PeduliLindungi health app during the recent Covid-19 outbreak. The collaboration from a local developer’s team, the Indonesian government’s Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Communication and Informatics have sped up the development and improvement of the app.

During the pandemic “this application provides information about health and other relevant information,” the Director General of SDPPI of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics pointed out.

With over 100 million users, the software has been downloaded and is now used as an Indonesian Health Service Platform known as Satu Sehat Platform. The Platform is a unified health record system for locals. Director General Ismail cited that app as an example of one that is crucial to Indonesia’s healthcare system.

Indonesia’s government is constantly improving its public services to make them more effective and accessible to the people. Efforts to manage Indonesia’s National Public Service Innovation Network have officially commenced. (JIPPNas). The JIPPNas website has become a clearinghouse for innovative methods in public service throughout the country.

The website was created to compile all accessible statistics and information on the best public services and help Indonesia’s public and private sectors better understand how to develop innovation. The JIPPNas website is a hub for promoting innovation, especially in public services, thanks to the collaborative efforts of several different organisations.

The Transport Minister, Michael Wood, launched the country’s first electric vehicle (EV) charging strategy, which includes plans to provide EV charging stations in almost every town in New Zealand. The strategy is titled Charging Our Future. According to Wood, the government’s vision is for Aotearoa New Zealand to have world-class EV charging infrastructure that is accessible, affordable, convenient, and reliable.

The strategy aims to offer journey charging hubs every 150-200 kilometres on main highways, a public charger for every 20-40 EVs in urban areas, and public charging at community facilities for all settlements with 2,000 or more people. Meeting the targets would see tens of thousands more EV chargers across the country, Wood said.

Emissions from the light vehicle fleet are the single largest source of transport emissions in New Zealand, partially due to having some of the most fuel-inefficient and emissions-intensive vehicles in the OECD. This is expensive and damaging to people’s health and the environment. “Switching to EVs would be like buying petrol for 40c/litre, which would make a big difference for household budgets,” he explained.

Last May, the government released Aotearoa New Zealand’s first emissions reduction plan. The plan explored how the country would meet the first emissions budget for 2022–25 and put it on track to meet future emissions budgets. As per the strategy, transport is one of New Zealand’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for 17% of national gross emissions and 39% of total domestic carbon dioxide emissions.

The Emissions Reduction Plan includes the action to rapidly adopt low-emissions vehicles including by improving EV-charging infrastructure across Aotearoa to ensure that citizens have adequate access to charging facilities. Although EVs are not a solution, they are a crucial part of a decarbonised transport system, complementing increased opportunities for adults and children to safely walk, cycle, and use high-quality public transport, the strategy wrote. The country needs an EV charging plan to provide certainty to all parties about the role government will play in supporting EV charging infrastructure.

These new targets will facilitate infrastructure to support different trips and journeys that EV drivers make as well as ensure that rural and provincial New Zealand locations are accessible for residents and visitors with EVs. Wood noted that the success of the government’s clean car policies means there are more than 69,000 EVs on roads, over 80% more than at the end of 2021. This strategy will ensure New Zealand can sustain the uptake of EVs as it is witnessing more people make the switch.

The Ministry will work with local government and industry across transport, energy, and other sectors to deliver on these initiatives. “We also want to make sure we’re working alongside the public. I hope everyone will take the opportunity to feed into the draft strategy and the discussion document,” Wood stated.

The country’s capital, Wellington, previously announced it aims to replace all fossil-fuel-powered passenger vehicles with electric alternatives by 2030. Last year, the Wellington City Council added 24 electric vehicles (EVs) to its fleet. As OpenGov Asia reported, by mid-August, there were 40 EVs for staff to use for daily operations.

A study by the New Zealand Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi) about Kiwi behaviour showed that on average, people don’t travel more than 20 to 50 kilometres a day. Introducing electric vehicles that are capable of a 250-300 kilometres range in one full charge will be the right match for most Council operations. As Wellington city is compact, there are many opportunities for people to change the way they travel throughout the city and have an impact on carbon emissions. More recently, the capital approved trialling a public e-bike share scheme, allowing residents and visitors to hire e-bikes to get around the city.

The HKUST Business School conducted a comprehensive research study aimed at guiding policy and strategy development for Hong Kong’s regtech sector. The study highlights the pain points currently facing the industry and proposes measures that could strengthen its growth.

To create a more vibrant and innovation-friendly regtech ecosystem, regulators should consider leading in technology development, providing incentives for technology use, and issuing clear guidelines to facilitate technology adoption.

Regtech is a subsector of fintech that adds value to financial institutions and end-users of financial services by automating compliance processes and facilitating innovative customer services such as remote bank account opening. The Hong Kong Government recognises the significance of regtech as part of its fintech strategy and promotes its growth in the city.

To conduct the study, the research team collected insights from regtech solution providers and users, including senior management from banks, payment service providers, and asset management companies. The team used an online survey and focus group discussions to gather this information. Based on their findings, the team developed two reports that summarise their key observations and recommendations.

The research team identified the potential of regtech in automating financial institutions’ know-your-customer (KYC) processes and recommended establishing clear protocols for releasing government data for document verification purposes.

Additionally, the team proposed several solutions to address Hong Kong’s regtech talent shortage, including allocating more resources for on-the-job training, mandating IT courses for finance majors, and establishing an accredited regtech program that is widely recognised.

The Dean of HKUST Business School expressed that financial institutions are turning towards regtech to stay competitive and provide consistent value to customers amid a rapidly changing market with numerous regulatory requirements.

He hopes that this study will help policymakers, regulators, and industry participants to enhance the regtech capabilities of the city and accelerate industry growth. Additionally, the school plans to allocate more resources and focus on regtech research in the future.

The following are the recommendations provided by the HKUST Business School’s study on promoting regtech development in Hong Kong:

Creating a Friendly Regulatory Environment that Encourages Innovation:

  • Establish clear guidelines with notes on interpretation and provide prompt feedback
  • Provide incentives to the industry, startups, and academics to facilitate regtech innovation

Building a Connected, Inclusive, and Vibrant Regtech Ecosystem:

  • Regulators to take lead in technology solutions to address pain points of the industry
  • Build an inclusive regtech network through the facilitators
  • Accreditation of regtech solution providers

Facilitating the Sharing of Data & Technology in the Regtech Community:

  • Standardise the APIs for different banks to share data
  • Provide shared databases and platforms to be accessed by different regtech stakeholders
  • Allow successful sandbox projects to share solutions

Facilitating KYC Processes and Cross-Border Data Access:

  • Establish protocols for verification of documents and identities (individuals and corporates)
  • Collaborate with Mainland China to offer standardised procedures and data access

Solving Hong Kong’s Regtech Talent Shortage:

  • Government and regulators to allocate more resources for on-the-job training
  • Government to sponsor more internships, as firms may not have the resources to support student internships
  • Government could provide living allowance to expatriates, or subsidise the companies that offer housing benefits to expatriates to increase their willingness to relocate to Hong Kong
  • Higher education providers to include mandatory IT courses in the curriculum for finance majors
  • Establish a widely accepted accredited program with regtech as a specialisation for graduates and practitioners to certify fintech and regtech talent
  • Provide a clear path for the regtech profession and offer a more rewarding scheme and more interesting future prospects to attract students into the field.

The Policy Innovation and Coordination Office (PICO) and the Research Grants Council (RGC) funded the study.

Drones are being used in a Thai farm to spread biochemicals. Preesarn Rakwatin, Executive Vice President, Digital Application Promotion Group Team Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa) conducted an inspection of the project during a follow-up visit to Sujaritchai Farm.

The farm received funding from depa’s Digital Transformation Fund, which subsidises the use of digital technologies and new ideas in manufacturing. Biochemicals derived from pigs on the farm were employed to boost the nutritional content of rubber and palm trees.

This approach is based on the same research findings that guide agriculture in the areas surrounding Chiang Khan. Data will be taken from the follow-up visit and the depa will be updated on the project’s progress.

Farmers, the Agri-Industrial Business Operators Academy, and agricultural extension and support organisations may work together more effectively and optimise their operations using digital technology. The initiative will serve as a blueprint to improve the agricultural industry in the region.

Meanwhile, the Department of Experimental Science and Engineering (DES) has previously suggested that farmers in the Pin Fah Farm region of Pathum Thani Province, Thailand, use more drones as part of a new smart farm initiative. The Pinfah Farm in Thailand’s Pathum Thani Province is an innovative model farm designed with eco-tourism in mind.

Drones in Pin Fah farms are used to apply fertiliser, pesticides, and other chemicals to their fields to save money and boost farmer health. The Minister of Digital Economy and Society, Chaiwut Thanakmanusorn, visited the new farm and donated capital.

In recent years, the concept of “smart agriculture” has been gaining popularity worldwide. It increases productivity, solves problems unique to farms (such as meeting rising food demands), and connects and improves the intelligence of farms. Intelligent agricultural systems that utilise the Internet of Things (IoT) include precision farming; variable rate technology; smart irrigation; and intelligent greenhouses.

Thailand is devoted to digitalising agriculture and enhancing the quality and effectiveness of the state’s public digital services. The Cabinet of Thailand recently adopted the “Digital Government Development Plan 2023-2027.” The plan’s goals were to usher in a more responsive government that caters to its citizens’ wants and needs, lessen service gap disparities, boost the economy’s productive capacity and competitiveness, and improve the public’s understanding of how things work.

The plan’s goals also included creating a more transparent government and closing the digital divide across all departments. To reap the full benefits of data, the government organised a centralised system to ensure that all data is linked according to the same standards and analysed using the same technologies.

Over the next five years, this strategy will guide government agencies using digital technology to serve the public better and improve administration. Don Pramudwinai, the Thai government’s Deputy Prime Minister, said that the strategy “powered up” the government’s transition to a digital form of administration.

The Digital Government Agency (DGA) noted that the digital government development strategy included the following four critical methods:

  1. Promote the digital transformation of the public sector for flexible, agile administration and extend it to local government agencies;
  2. Create services that are convenient and easy to access;
  3. Create value and facilitate the business sector; and
  4. Encourage public participation and make publicly available the results of the project’s success as documented by the digital government strategy

The approach integrates information and communication channels to provide openness and accountability and improve access to justice. The Thai government hopes implementing this strategy will help the country move up the E-Government Development Index (EGDI) rankings to somewhere above the 40th position.

To better prepare its public servants for the digital age, Thailand introduced an e-Learning system and an electronic certificate. More than a million users are enrolled in 32 different classes on the DGA website. In addition to providing digital job skills relevant to today’s global setting, the website will provide easy access to fundamental data needed by each agency. Developing digital competence will bolster the confidence and preparedness to transition towards a fully digital administration.

Venture Capital (VC) has played a significant role in driving innovation and economic growth by providing essential financing for startups and early-stage enterprises. With rising interest rates and complicated loan approval processes, many entrepreneurs are turning to VC financing opportunities to bridge the gap between funding sources for innovation and traditional, lower-cost forms of finance available to existing businesses.

To attract private equity funds and entice entrepreneurs with high-return ideas, the VC industry must offer a satisfactory return on capital, provide appealing returns for its members, and demonstrate promising upside potential. However, consistently outperforming investments in inherently risky business operations remains a significant challenge

Despite not being long-term ventures, the goal of VC investments is to provide financial support to a company’s balance sheet and infrastructure until it achieves a certain size and level of credibility that makes it attractive for acquisition by a corporation or provides the opportunity for liquidity in the institutional public equity markets.

Due to the saturation of the startup market and ongoing inflation concerns, many investors are opting for a more conservative approach. Venture capitalists today are adopting a more cautious, long-term strategy, departing from the previously prevalent aggressive, short-term investment approach.

Venture Capitalists Measure When Funding a Startup

Kei Furukawa, a Partner in Investment & Business Development at the UTokyo Innovation Platform Co (UTokyoIPC), presents the Innovative Platform as the entity in charge of enhancing the University of Tokyo (UTokyo)’s innovation ecosystem. It is tasked with ensuring returns on its investments as a funding corporation as well as disseminating academic research outcomes from the world-leading university in Japan to society as a whole.

“UTokyo IPC aims to accelerate innovation on a global scale that leveraged the University of Tokyo through three key activities: supporting entrepreneurs, facilitating corporate innovation, and investing in startups,” Kei reveals.

The company’s primary activity is Venture Capital (VC), which consists of meaningful investments and the exiting of those portfolios. A concurrent objective is to apply UTokyo’s research, intellectual assets and other resources to businesses.

While the ultimate goal is to make investments, Kei shared that they also conduct extensive research and academic work, that can be commercialised.

The company has invested in around 60 companies or portfolios that are primarily focused on various fields including biotech (drug discovery, medical devices, agriculture), robotics, aerospace, IT and AI (mainly enterprise solutions).

“It is pertinent that our company was established as a result of a political decision, indicating that the government is currently experiencing a period of uncertainty,” Kei explains. “Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)made a joint decision to increase funding for startups emerging from universities, to explore ways to transform research into viable business ventures. This decision ultimately led to the creation of our company.”

Typically, national universities in Japan are not permitted to invest in companies, but an exception was made in this case. As a result, the VC firm is deeply invested in the growth of startups and takes a deep interest in their success.

Kei explained that the national budget was used to establish our funds. It is noteworthy that the funds comprise public and private sources, with a government disbursement allowing it to undertake investments with significantly greater risk.

He acknowledges that the company employs a matrix to evaluate the success of its investments. However, due to their focus on early-stage deep tech investments, it can be extremely challenging to conduct such measurements, particularly at an early stage. Nonetheless, his team closely monitors the progress of each investment and ensures that the milestones established for both business and technology are met.

The company operates an incubation and accelerator programme called “1st Round” ( that serves as a bridge between academia and business. It is a programme co-hosted by 13 Top national and private universities from Japan. To participate in the initiative, start-ups are not required to be incorporated but must do so if chosen. If already incorporated, they must be under 3 years, and must not be funded by a VC at application timing.

He notes that they have numerous corporate sponsors, consisting of major Japanese corporations of a wide spectrum of industry fields. They strongly encourage partnerships between the startups and the sponsoring companies to conduct proof of concept (POC) projects together. This safe and close-knit community has resulted in many successful ventures between companies and startups.

The venture capitalist arm has a follow-on investment strategy aimed at providing support to the companies they invest in, particularly during challenging times. They take a hands-on approach by having members sit or observe boards meeting of portfolio companies to offer guidance and mentorship for business development, HR support (has own recruitment platform “Deep tech Dive” (,  and public relations. Also since their fund terms are 15 years, relatively longer than other VC funds, which helps deep tech startups to firmly bring technology to the market.

The VC strongly believes in the value of persistence and is committed to not giving up on its investments. They are determined to work tirelessly until the very end to revitalise the company, a trait they consider critical of a successful investor.

As a university subsidiary, they do not limit themselves to any particular investment areas and remain open to various types of startups. While there may be some sectors that are more attractive to non-tech venture capital, they generally favour startups that may be complex to comprehend but possess the potential to bring about transformative changes in the world.

They take a long-term investment approach and have transitioned from short-term rapid investment to supporting social impact and sustainability, particularly in healthcare startups. However, they also must balance this with the need for financial returns.

When making investments, financial returns are undoubtedly important, but they are not the sole factor that should be taken into account. The overall impact of the investment, including its social, environmental and ethical implications, should also be carefully considered.

Startups have several options for obtaining capital, such as crowdfunding, venture loans, and revenue-based finance. Each strategy has its own advantages and disadvantages, and therefore, entrepreneurs must have a deep understanding of these options.

Having multiple funding options can be advantageous, provided that entrepreneurs and shareholders are well-informed about the pros and cons of each. A thorough understanding of the funding options can help them make an informed decision that aligns with their business goals and objectives.

Urban Ideas and Solutions Through LKYGBPC

The Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC), which began in 2001, is a biennial global university start-up competition hosted in Singapore. Organised by Singapore Management University’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, focuses on urban ideas and solutions developed by student founders and early-stage start-ups.

According to Kei, as an entrepreneur, it is essential to have the appropriate capacity and seek guidance from knowledgeable individuals, particularly in the early stages of the business. As a university subsidiary, UTokyoIPC is well-equipped to assist entrepreneurs and help prevent them from making fatal mistakes out of ignorance.

The success of promoting entrepreneurship in culture depends on the ecosystem and environment that encourages and supports it. Singapore has a strong entrepreneurial environment, with universities such as SMU and NUS emphasising entrepreneurship. In contrast, Japan has a larger economy but tends to be more conservative.

The University of Tokyo has been actively fostering entrepreneurship by offering courses to students, which has led to the creation of numerous companies. The critical factor behind this success is the creation of an environment that supports entrepreneurship and motivates people to pursue it. Marketing and promoting the benefits of entrepreneurship are also vital to its success.

“The programme is expanding and involving many other universities beyond Singapore. This makes LKYGBPC an excellent platform for startups or the venture capital industry, as it is close to many countries in the region.” Kei believes.

Since joining the company in 2019, Kei has been actively involved in supporting startups, professors, and students through various initiatives. His passion is on deep tech startups or those with the potential to bring about positive changes in the world. He has invested in a diverse range of fields, including IT, robotics, AI and agritech.

Many successful entrepreneurs come from different backgrounds, such as business, engineering, finance, marketing and more. While having a technical background can be advantageous in some industries, it is not always necessary for achieving business success, Kei opines.

“Ultimately, having a strong business sense is more crucial than any specific technical background. What truly matters is possessing a good grasp of business and the necessary skills to succeed in it. This entails competencies such as strategic thinking, financial management, leadership, communication, and problem-solving,” Kei concludes.

Pemodal ventura atau venture capital (VC) telah menjadi kekuatan vital dan katalis inovasi terkemuka selama beberapa dekade terakhir. Permodalan mereka telah menjadi sumber keuangan utama bagi sejumlah startup, sebab VC dikenal lebih ramah inovasi bagi pertumbuhan perusahaan pemula (startup).

Alih-alih meminjam modal dari bank yang memiliki suku bunga tinggi dan proses persetujuan pinjaman yang rumit, tidak heran jika banyak pengusaha lebih memilih alternatif pendanaan kepada pemodal ventura. Bagai gayung bersambut, investor pun mendukung upaya para pendiri startup dengan memasok modal yang mereka butuhkan.

VC menjadi jembatan untuk mengisi celah kebutuhan antara sumber modal inovatif dan tradisional. Pendanaan model ini menjadi alternatif sumber modal rendah biaya untuk mendanai bisnis. Untuk menyediakan dana besar bagi pegiat startup, bisnis pemodal ventura harus memberikan insentif yang menarik bagi para investor privat agar mereka mau menaruh uang mereka di perusahaan pemodal ventura.

Di sisi lain, besarnya ketersediaan sumber dana menjadi modal bagi VC untuk menarik potensi startup berkualitas yang berpotensi memberikan keuntungan tinggi. Secara singkat, tantangan pemodal ventura adalah mencari potensi untuk melipatgandakan investasi yang diberikan pada bisnis-bisnis dengan tingkat risiko tinggi.

Modal ventura bukanlah modal jangka panjang. VC bertujuan untuk berinvestasi hingga perusahaan mencapai ukuran dan kredibilitas yang bisa dijual ke korporasi lain atau bisa dijual sebagai likuiditas di pasar modal. Intinya, seorang pemodal ventura berinvestasi pada ide pengusaha, mengembangkannya dalam waktu singkat, kemudian mencari strategi untuk mendapat laba berlipat dengan menjual perusahaan atau melakukan penawaran saham perdana (Initial Public Offering/ IPO).

Namun, kiniada muncul tren baru dimana pemodal ventura beralih dari metode investasi jangka pendek yang agresif ke pendekatan jangka panjang yang lebih konservatif. Pasar startup yang sudah terlalu jenuh menjadi salah satu alasan transisi ini. Tren ini, dikombinasikan dengan kekhawatiran inflasi yang berkelanjutan, membuat banyak investor memainkan portofolio investasi mereka dengan lebih hati-hati.

Menyaring startup potensial

University of Tokyo Innovation Platform Co (UTokyoIPC) menjadi salah satu pemodal ventura yang melakukan pendanaan jangka panjang ini. UTokyoIPC berkecimpung sebagai pemodal ventura untuk startup deep tech. Sehingga, mereka lebih sering memberikan modal jangka panjang hingga 15 tahun untuk perusahaan yang mendalami inovasi dibidang bio teknologi, peralatan medis, dan obat-obatan.

Pendirian pemodal ventura UTokyoIPC sendiri berawal dari inisiatif Menteri Ekonomi dan Menteri Pendidikan untuk memberikan pendanaan pada riset-riset yang dilakukan kampus. Mereka ingin agar riset-riset itu bisa dikomersialisasi dan dikembangkan menjadi bisnis. Lantas didirikanlah UTokyoIPC di bawah Universitas Tokyo yang mendapat sumber modal dari pemerintah dan swasta.

“Di portofolio kami, ada sekitar 50-60 perusahaan dan kebanyakan bergerak di biotech, seperti penemuan obat, peralatan medis, dan sebagian kecil bergerak di pertanian,” tutur Kei Furukawa, Partner, Investasi & Pengembang Bisnis UTokyoIPC, dalam wawancara khusus dengan Mohit Sagar, CEO dan Pemimpin Redaksi OpenGov Asia.

“Meski tak banyak pemodal ventura yang bergerak di area ini, namun kami melihat sektor ini sangat penting dan berdampak pada hidup banyak orang, sehingga kami memutuskan untuk berinvestasi di sini.”

Ia lantas membeberkan sejumlah hal yang menjadi pertimbangan perusahaan pemodal ventura untuk berinvestasi di sebuah startup. Kei mengaku penilaian yang mereka lakukan tak jauh beda dari penilaian yang dilakukan oleh pemodal ventura lain pada umumnya:

  1. Memiliki tim yang bagus,
  2. Mengusung teknologi yang menarik di waktu yang tepat,
  3. Ketersediaan pasar,
  4. Potensi ekspansi, untuk mengukur seberapa besar perusahaan bisa dikembangkan dan berapa banyak pasar yang bisa diraup.

Tidak terpenuhinya sejumlah syarat itu menjadi kesalahan startup ketika gagal menggaet pemodal. Ketersediaan pasar dan potensi kecepatan pertumbuhan perusahaan menjadi pertimbangan terbesar para pemberi modal.

Modal jangka panjang

Sebagai pemodal ventura untuk startup yang bergerak dibidang bio-tech, UTokyoIPC menyadari bahwa mengembangkan inovasi teknologi medis memang membutuhkan waktu lama. Sebab, industri ini berkaitan dengan kesehatan dan nyawa manusia sehingga perlu riset mendalam untuk memastikan keamanan dan keakuratan produk yang dihasilkan.

“Di tahun pertama, kami mengelola startup agar mereka berkomitmen menjaga pertumbuhan perusahaan. Kami tidak mengejar-ngejar mereka agar lekas besar. Sebab, pengembangan deep tech memang perlu waktu, sehingga kami tidak perlu terburu-buru.”

Selain itu, skema pendanaan campuran antara publik dan privat membuat model pendanaan yang diberikan UTokyoIPC bisa lebih menerima pendanaan model ini. Mereka bisa lebih leluasa mengambil risiko ketika berinvestasi.

Untuk memberi pendanaan, UTokyoIPC biasanya memulai dengan melakukan konsultasi dengan berbagai riset yang ada di kampus-kampus. Mereka mencari riset yang berpotensi untuk diubah menjadi bisnis. Riset yang dianggap potensial akan diajak untuk mengikuti pitching sebagai bagian dari proses seleksi sebelum pemberian modal.

Setelah itu, mereka memberikan program bimbingan tahap awal. Perusahaan yang terpilih masuk ke program ini akan mendapat pendanaan dengan nilai maksimum US$100 ribu sebagai dana hibah. Mereka mendapat bimbingan selama enam bulan agar dana hibah yang diberikan bisa dipakai untuk mengembangkan perusahaan.

“Mereka tak tahu banyak soal bisnis, sehingga kami memberikan saran dan dukungan uang sebanyak mungkin agar mereka tidak terjegal di fase awal mereka. Tujuan kami agar startup bisa berhasil melewati pendanaan tahap awal (seed round funding) dan mencapai valuasi terbaik.”

UTokyoIPC memberikan pendanaan di tahap awal perusahaan mulai dari seed funding hingga seri kedua (second round funding). Sebagai investor tahap awal, Kei menuturkan sulit untuk mengukur tingkat kesuksesan investasi yang dilakukan. Sehingga, mereka berpatokan pada target-target yang telah ditetapkan bersama. Jika startup berhasil mencapai tiap target yang sudah disepakati, hal tersebut menjadi indikasi perusahaan telah berjalan dengan baik. Jika yang terjadi sebaliknya, maka perlu dilakukan peninjauan ulang untuk mengubah haluan.

Sukses di pemodal ventura

Sebagai seseorang yang tidak memiliki latar belakang investasi dan bisnis, Kei merasa beruntung bisa terjun ke bisnis pemodal ventura UTokyoIPC. Awal ketertarikan Kei terhadap bisnis modal ventura sendiri berawal sejak ia menjajal Pendidikan MBA di Singapura.

Merasa tak punya cukup mental untuk menjadi seorang pengusaha, Kei banting setir untuk mempelajari sistem pendukung bisnis yaitu pemodal ventura. Sehingga, ia pun banyak mengambil kursus pemodal ventura kala itu.

Meski demikian, jalan tak selalu mulus. Lantaran tak punya pengalaman kerja di bidang itu, ia tak langsung terjun ke industri pemodal ventura. Setelah melanglangbuana ke sejumlah perusahaan swasta, suatu hari ia berkesempatan berkarir di UTokyoIPC yang merupakan pemodal ventura.

Menurutnya, agar berhasil di bisnis pemodal ventura, seseorang mesti memiliki kemampuan berelasi yang baik. Sebab, bisnis ini selalu berhubungan dengan orang lain, baik dengan investor maupun startup.

“Karena Anda akan berhubungan dengan banyak orang, berbicara dengan mereka dan memahami siapa mereka. Sebab, ini akan menjadi aspek penting ketika melakukan investasi.”

Selain kepiawaian dalam menangani orang lain, catatan lain sebagai seorang pemodal ventura adalah semangat pantang menyerah. Pemodal mesti berjuang bersama tim startup hingga titik darah penghabisan. Optimisme dan kemampuan untuk terus mencoba strategi baru sangat diperlukan. Sebab selalu akan ada momen di mana rasa putus asa dan keinginan untuk menyerah muncul karena tidak melihat jalan keluar menuju keberhasilan.

“Tapi, saya tekankan untuk jangan menyerah. Anda harus mendorong diri Anda hingga hari terakhir, hingga berhasil.”

Selain itu, seorang investor juga perlu memiliki kesabaran untuk memberi waktu dan kesempatan bagi orang lain. Sebab, dalam investasi deep tech, banyak pekerjaan laboratorium yang tak segera terlihat hasilnya.

“Saya berbicara dengan berbagai tim ketika mereka bekerja di laboratorium dan berpikir bahwa sebagian besar waktu yang digunakan tidak segera menjadi uang atau menjadi produk, namun kami tetap memberi keleluasaan waktu. Kami melihat kesempatan apa yang bisa kita manfaatkan dari hasil penelitian mereka. Sehingga persoalannya, “Apakah Anda ingin memberikan waktu bagi startup yang dimodali? Yang kemungkinan dalam tiga atau lima tahun ke depan akan menjadi bisnis yang besar? Saya kira ini penting.”

LKYGBPC sosialisasikan minat kewirausahaan

Menurut Kei, Singapura memiliki kultur entrepreneurship yang kuat ketimbang Jepang. Hal ini mengejutkannya dan membuatnya tertarik untuk menggali lebih jauh ketika mendapat pelajaran entrepreneurship dalam proses mengambil gelar master di negara itu.

“Meski Jepang memiliki skala ekonomi yang lebih besar, namun warga di sini lebih konservatif ketimbang Singapura yang sangat agresif dengan entrepreneurship.”

Lewat kompetisi kewirausahaan seperti Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) menurut Kei berguna untuk terus memupuk jiwa kewirausahaan anak muda di Singapura dan berbagai belahan dunia. Selain itu, LKYGBPC juga memberi pengaruh ke berbagai universitas lain di dalam dan luar Singapura untuk ikut terlibat dalam pengembangan kewirausahaan.

Kompetisi ini juga menjadi sarana yang baik untuk mempertemukan startup dengan pemodal ventura. Sehingga, ia berharap program kompetisi ini bisa menjadi platform untuk melebarkan semangat entrepreneurship.