We are very pleased to introduce Openspace Ventures’ inaugural edition of Reaping the Regional Dividend. In discussing the Openspace strategy and track record in Southeast Asia with investors and ecosystem participants, a couple of key questions often emerge — is Southeast Asia ready for sustainable technology investor returns? Can opportunities be assessed on a regional basis or should they be considered country-by-country? What is the right way, if any, to scale businesses across the region?

As one of the pioneers and busiest investors in Southeast Asian VC we wanted to share openly our findings and progress via an annual update. The aim is to delve into key opportunities and challenges and track how the market develops over time. We sincerely thank our talented entrepreneurs and friends at the eminent KKR for their inputs. Openspace drew on our team of 24 people across the region and our database of over 10,000 Southeast Asian opportunities to draw insights. The research and views are partly anecdotal but will be increasingly data-driven over time as the market track record develops.

We decided to research and release our first edition of Reaping the Regional Dividend in 2020, a year dominated by the Covid-19 effect. Why now? Firstly, Covid-19 has shaken up global economies and politics and has pointers towards Southeast Asia’s ongoing role. We believe Southeast Asia will emerge stronger from the crisis, particularly if the region can work together to lower barriers. Technology and VC can empower this. Secondly, while Covid-19 has inhibited travel, we believe it has further enhanced the asymmetric value-add of having an on-ground presence. Leveraging our diverse team and multiple offices across the region, we believe in a regional-inspired form of conviction-building and decision-making that doesn’t skimp on diligence, but can get things done in a pandemic when technology solutions come to the fore.

Openspace Ventures is not alone in our belief that Southeast Asia holds much promise and we look forward to working with many other investors as we journey down this path. While reaping the regional dividend will take time it promises a strong payoff if systems and teams, at both investor and company level, are developed to properly take advantage. Going regional can greatly enhance market opportunity and risks can be managed with the right partners alongside. While it may not be the time right now to expand for many sectors, we believe regional expansion needs to be part of the growth toolbox. We share some of our sector perspectives around this on pages 12 to 17.

Please let us know your thoughts via our online channels. We welcome collaboration with the ecosystem on future editions as we address future key regional investment trends.