Eight Skolkovo IT startups headed to the Asian startup hub of Singapore last week to showcase their innovative products and solutions at ConnecTechAsia, a major telecoms trade exhibition.

Singapore has a startup tax exemption scheme and launchpads across the city-state. Photo: Daria Lipatova / Sk.ru.

Six of the startups were taking part in a business mission to Singapore organised by the Skolkovo Foundation. They were: Med.me, a blockchain-based medical platform for making appointments and sharing medical records; Sum & Substance, which makes cybersecurity and big data solutions; RDP, which makes software-based networking equipment such as routers for the telecom industry; Etton, which makes automation systems for industries from telecoms to smart city; Webgears, which makes visualisation-enabling tech for use in AR/VR, industrial IoT and other industries; and G-Core Labs, the maker of solutions for media and entertainment industries as well as protection against cyber threats.

These six companies presented their products and solutions at a stand organised jointly with the Russian Export Centre (REC), a state export support institution.

“The main task of their participation in this business mission was to get to know the market,” said Daria Lipatova, head of international acceleration at the Skolkovo Foundation, who accompanied the startups to Singapore, which is seen as a springboard for foreign companies seeking access to Asian markets.

“The foundation organised meetings with key partners in the region with whom we have been working for more than five years, and who are developing the entrepreneurial scene in Singapore, so our startups had the opportunity to learn about conditions for doing business in Singapore, and what they need to do to open an office there and search for partners,” she told Sk.ru.

The other aim was for the startups to search for clients and partners in the region, which the companies did both at the ConnecTechAsia stand and via meetings organised for them by Skolkovo, said Lipatova.

Members of the Webgears team demonstrate their technology to a representative of Enterprise Singapore. Photo: REC.

Two more Skolkovo startups took part independently in the telecoms event. Group-IB, a Skolkovo cybersecurity company that is already present in more than 60 countries, is interested in opening a global office in Singapore with the help of an investor, local partners and the Skolkovo Foundation, Group-IB’s corporate communications director Nika Komarova told Sk.ru.

The other company, Hotlead, a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation’s Far East office, had its own stand at the exhibition in partnership with Russia's Khabarovsk region. The company works on the automation of Internet Protocol telephony, and already has several major contacts in South Korea and plans to further develop its business in the region, Lipatova told Sk.ru.

As part of the business mission, the six startups also visited Echelon Asia Summit, another major tech convention that Skolkovo has previously taken part in, where they learned more about the startup development scene in Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Kazakhstan.

“There was particular interest from investors in two of our companies,” said Lipatova.

Singapore, which was ranked second place in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report, is seen as a springboard for foreign companies seeking access to Asian markets.

“[The first], Sum & Substance, develops KYC (know your client) technologies that enable companies to find out more about their potential and existing clients, as well as cybersecurity to protect the enterprise’s digital systems. The second company that one of the investment funds took an interest in was the digital medicine company Med.me.”

Companies including RDP received several commercial proposals, and not only from companies in Singapore, but from potential partners in other countries including Bangladesh, Lipatova added.

Singapore, which has a startup tax exemption scheme and launchpads across the city-state, was ranked second place in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report. It is implementing a Smart Nation programme to introduce new technologies at all levels of the economy and aims to turn Singapore into a “living laboratory” for testing tech solutions to urban problems.

Several Skolkovo startups have already entered the Singapore market or are in the process of doing so, including CDN Video and Cardberry, which have opened offices in Singapore, face recognition wizards VisionLabs, and ExoAtlet, which is in the process of obtaining certification for its medical exoskeletons in Singapore, having entered into a partnership with South Korean investors to expand to Asian markets. In 2017, two resident startups of Skolkovo’s IT cluster made it through to the top 10 companies at Slush Singapore.

Skolkovo has close ties with the innovative island nation, which was the official partner country of the Open Innovations forum held at Skolkovo in 2017, when Jacqueline Poh, CEO of GovTech Singapore, took part in the plenary session together with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Alibaba Group head Jack Ma.