Scaling the best of the Nordics
Nordic Innovation House Singapore taps into its vast network of partners to offer Nordic businesses a leg up as they work to enter the Southeast Asian market.

What do companies like Spotify, Nokia and Novo Nordisk have in common? They have embraced the open innovation mindset and represent the best of Nordic business practices, despite being from diverse industries.

For one, the region has focused on cultural acceptance and community engagement, leading to widespread adoption of digitalisation. In a study by research institute Nordregio, only 20 percent of digital transformation is about the technology. Whereas, adoption is about people and how they manage change.

Even in the rural areas, the Nordics perform significantly better than other European cities in terms of digital know-how. Rural Norway, for instance, has better digital skills than 75 percent of European Union countries, according to Eurostat data.

While Nordic Innovation House Singapore provides valuable business resources for Nordic companies hoping to enter the Singapore and Southeast Asian markets, regional companies also benefit through partnerships and knowledge exchange with innovative Nordic SMEs. This exchange promotes trade and investment for the region.

At their Singapore hub, the Nordic Innovation House works with IPI to bridge the gap between businesses and innovators from Nordic nations and Southeast Asia, expertly matching problem solvers to problem owners through open innovation. Nordic Innovation House Singapore’s Community Manager Jacqueline Chen offers insights into the organisation’s innovation activities, partnership with IPI and what they look for in potential collaborators.
    

1. What does the Nordic Innovation House Singapore do, and what are your key capabilities?

Nordic Innovation House is a community platform that accelerates high-quality Nordic tech start-ups, scaleups and growth companies. With our strong community and network, we connect Nordic companies with the right stakeholders. We are supported by Nordic Innovation and are a unique collaboration between the five Nordic countries: Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Denmark.

In Singapore, we operate under the Nordic Trade Promotion Offices and the embassies to bridge Nordic and Southeast Asian innovators and businesses. We support Nordic businesses as they expand their foothold in Southeast Asia by providing access to our industry partners and investors, advisory services and market entry programmes.
 

2. What is unique about Nordic Innovation House's approach to open innovation?

We scale the best of the Nordics in Singapore and Southeast Asia! Nordic countries are at the forefront of technology, sustainability, healthcare and smart city development so partnering with the Nordic Trade Promotion Offices and the embassies are key to our open innovation efforts. It enables us to exchange valuable networks, sectoral expertise, and co-create Nordic-driven activities that foster new co-developments and cooperation between the two regions.

We always keep an open mind and believe that collaborative partnerships and investments can provide Nordic tech companies with new market opportunities and leverage Singapore as a gateway to Southeast Asia.
 

3. Kindly share some examples of how collaborations with Nordic Innovation House have benefited Nordic and Singapore companies, primarily through the jointly organised programmes.

In 2020, we started organising market entry programmes focused on the circular economy, health and smart cities. The two-week programmes allow Nordic companies to better understand the Singapore ecosystem, address problem statements, showcase solutions and meet local stakeholders.

To date, we have delivered three virtual market entry programmes and connected 45 Nordic tech companies with over 500 government and industry professionals, academic institutions, and investors in the region. For each programme, we collaborated with key stakeholders like ST Engineering, PUB and the Singapore General Hospital that were open to collaborating with high-tech Nordic companies to solve their challenges.    

We also find ways to stay relevant by organising Nordic-Singapore activities with our portfolio of companies and entrepreneurship communities. In conjunction with the 2020 Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW), we hosted the Nordic Green Conference with speakers like the climate ambassador of Denmark, representatives from Eco-Business Singapore and ASEAN Centre for Energy (Indonesia) who discussed the potential of regional energy and resource management collaboration.

Recently, we also did a joint webinar with SGInnovate on “Circular Waste Economy in Singapore and the Nordics” to discuss the state of waste management and solutions to ensure the future of the circular economy.
 

4. What kinds of companies and collaborators are you looking to work with?

Nordic countries and Singapore share many similar challenges in sustainability, health and smart cities. At Nordic Innovation House Singapore, we hope to partner with companies and collaborators keen to co-create, co-develop and build new opportunities with Nordic tech companies. Nordic technologies and digital solutions can help Singapore-based companies grow across multiple industries while addressing fundamental problem areas in the various sectors.

We also seek to co-organise activities and serve Singapore and Southeast Asia-based government agencies, businesses, venture capitalists and distributors. We like working with community builders to promote open innovation challenges and upcoming industry events that are relevant for the Nordics.
 

5. How can companies, especially local start-ups and SMEs, engage and begin working with Nordic Innovation House Singapore?

Businesses and innovators can visit our website to learn about our programmes and events or email us directly at sg@nordicinnovationhouse.com to find out more. We also encourage companies to follow us on various social media platforms and subscribe to our monthly newsletter to receive the latest updates!
 

6. How has Nordic Innovation House Singapore’s partnership with IPI been like over the years?

Brilliant! We appreciate the immense support, attention and opportunities the IPI team has shown in our programmes. With your vast network, our selected Nordic companies could showcase their innovations, receive 1-on-1 business meetings and find suitable business partners or pilot opportunities in Singapore. It has been a wonderful experience, and we believe IPI plays an essential role in building Singapore’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

We are also very excited to be part of Techinnovation 2021 in September, with a special Nordic showcase session featuring our 10 Nordic companies. We look forward to many more collaborations and successful partnerships with IPI in the future!