This blog post is about two incredibly different markets, Nepal and Singapore. In terms of both cultures, political institutions, and technical advancement they are unique, and hence the existence of very different business opportunities. Visiting these countries has been a highly exciting and rewarding experience, so I am delighted to be able to share some learnings with you.
Geographically situated between the biotech-giants of China and India, Nepal has the ambition to become a leader in the biosciences field. Furthermore, with a country sized 200 X 800 km and encompassing all of the worlds five different climate zones, it also contains tremendous possibilities for new discoveries within biotech research. Supported by Danida Business Partnership (DBP), and the Danish Embassy, my colleague Maris and I got the opportunity to go to Nepal for six days at the beginning of March. DBP largely works to foster partnerships between more labour-intensive industries such as garment manufacturing and consumables. Therefore, with Labster being the knowledge intensive company that it is, it was certainly an experience to be able to join this this delegation, and to meet with the directors of four universities, CEO’s of IT companies, and even government officials.
Presenting for students and teachers at AITM
Our value proposition in Nepal was that Labster would look to supply laboratory simulations, which could serve as an additional hands-on experience, allowing students to get a more intimate knowledge of the machinery that is often too expensive and inaccessible for students. The country visit was very rewarding for Labster, as we found some clear gaps in the market that we have the potential to help fill. Our current market focus is first-world countries, so visiting a BOP-market such as Nepal would differ from our current strategy, but would nonetheless be aligned with our vision, to empower the next generation of scientists to save the world. Many opportunities indeed arose from speaking with both presidents and professors, from direct sales, to major collaborations to target foreign markets.
Following the delegation, I then ventured to join an Open House event at a Singaporean university. Previous time spent studying in Singapore had already provided me with a first-hand knowledge of their substantial openness to technical innovations, which in turn prompted me to urge Labster towards the Singaporean market. A few meetings in February at some of the universities led to the proposal that Labster could have a booth at an Open House event, in order to get first-hand feedback from current students, prospective students, their parents and teachers.
Open House event at the Singaporean university.
Singapore has high interest levels in innovation, and the country is very rich in terms of human capital. Knowledge was in fact one of the key drivers of the island state’s current prosperity. Interestingly, Singapore is also the 2nd richest country in the world, in terms of GDP/capita. Primary findings from the open house were that Labster would be most beneficial in terms of saving resources. Too much time can be spent performing complicated preparatory tasks in the laboratory before experiments, and measuring student performance, grading them, and providing feedback is an often tedious task that can be automated with Labster. In Singapore, it is the norm that students do not work alongside their studies, and thus hiring decisions are based chiefly on grades. We know that Labster is much more effective than traditional lectures, and the students all agreed that a great feature was the fact it’s not necessary to actually go to the university to use the virtual lab, rather one could also choose to do it at home.
Overall, there are considerable opportunities in working with education in Asia. Despite the major universities and research institutions mostly being situated in USA and Europe, we are strongly interested in the Asian markets for the following reasons:
1: More and more partnerships are set up between prominent western universities and Asian universities.
2: The opportunities in the e-learning market are rapidly expanding in Asia, as many countries build up their technological capabilities.
3: Everyone deserves the best educational tools available to lift up their skills, with the goal of improving the knowledge of the local workforce, and we know that we can be part of improving knowledge in the areas of biotech and life sciences education.
Title picture: Teachers at the biotech department at Tribhuvan University, the oldest one in Nepal.