Huawei commits $100M to fuel APAC startups

Chinese tech giant will pump $100 million over three years into its Spark initiative, which aims to develop another four startup hubs in the region including Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, and nurture 1,000 startups.

Huawei Technologies will pump $100 million over three years into its Spark startup scheme, which will include plans to develop another four startup hubs in the region. It also aims to nurture 1,000 startups, including 100 scaleups. 

The Chinese tech giant said Tuesday the investment would aim to add four startup hubs in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Launched last year, its Spark initiative looked to incubate and drive startup ecosystems in the Asia-Pacific region. It currently is available in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand. 

Huawei said it would now expand the programme to the four new markets, with the aim to recruit 1,000 startups, including 100 scaleups. The OECD defines scaleup businesses as companies with an average annual growth of more than 20% over three years, and with at least 10 employees. 

In addition, the Chinese tech vendor introduced three startup initiatives that tapped its cloud service offerings, including the Spark Developer Program and Spark Pitstop Program. The latter was touted to onboard startups on Huawei Cloud's technologies to drive these companies' product development. 

"Startups and small and midsize businesses (SMBs)...are the innovators, disruptors, and pioneers of our times," Huawei's senior vice president and board member Catherine Chen, said Tuesday at Huawei Cloud Spark Founders Summit 2021, which was held in Singapore and Hong Kong. "These companies account for two-thirds of jobs worldwide, create two-thirds of new jobs, and generate almost 50% of global GDP."

Chen added that Huawei hoped to offer its resources to enable startups to tap opportunities from digital transformation and develop "more innovative products and solutions for the world".

According to Huawei Cloud CEO Zhang Ping'an, the vendor worked with local governments, incubators and VC firms, and universities via its Spark initiative to provide "support platforms" for startups. He said 40 startups currently were participating in the programme. 

Zhang said: "We are stepping up our support for startups through four new initiatives, aimed at 'cloud-plus-cloud' collaboration, continuous tech innovation, global and local services, and high-quality business ecosystems."

He added that the vendor's new Cloud-plus-Cloud Collaboration and Joint Innovation Program would support startups with resources totalling $40 million, half of which would come from Huawei Cloud and the other half from Huawei Mobile Services (HMS).

"In 2021, our plan is to support 200 startups in the HMS ecosystem, and share our network of channel resources with developers worldwide who together serve 1 billion Huawei device users," he said. "In addition, we will open an HMS Developer Innovation Center to support 100,000 HMS cloud-native developers."

According to Huawei, 4.5 million developers across 170 markets and regions currently tap its mobile services platform. 

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