Forbes Asia 100 To Watch

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Asia-Pacific’s small companies and startups on the rise.

From underwater drones to satellite propulsion systems and everything in between, the inaugural Forbes Asia 100 to Watch list spotlights notable small companies and startups on the rise across the Asia-Pacific region. At a time when economies worldwide are struggling from the pandemic, these agile companies are on a growth path. Their inclusion in the list comes in part from addressing problems such as improving transportation in congested cities, expanding affordable connectivity in remote regions and preventing food waste. Seventeen countries and territories are represented. Top categories include biotechnology & healthcare, e-commerce & retail, food & hospitality and education & recruitment. The lively startup communities in India and Singapore produced 22 and 19 companies, respectively. Hong Kong has 10 and Indonesia eight. Mainland China has just four, as many candidates were above the required maximums for revenues or funding.

Edited by Jeanhee Kim with John Kang

Reporting by Jonathan Burgos, Rina Caballar, Ramakrishnan Narayanan, Danielle Keeton-Olsen, Amit Prakash, James Simms, Yue Wang and Ardian Wibisono.


METHODOLOGY: To select our 100 to Watch, Forbes Asia solicited online submissions, and invited accelerators, incubators, SME advocacy organizations, universities, venture capitalists and others to nominate companies as well. The final 100 was selected from over 900 submissions. To qualify for consideration, companies had to be headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region, be at least one year old, privately owned, for profit, and have no more than $20 million in its latest annual revenue or total funding through Aug. 1. Our team evaluated each submission, looking at metrics such as a positive impact on the region or industry, a track record of strong revenue growth or ability to attract funding, promising business models or markets, and a persuasive story. The editors reserve the right to remove or replace any company or individual included in a list in light of any new information that would disqualify them from inclusion.

Ackcio


Singapore

Category: Construction & Engineering

Year founded: 2016 • CEO: Nimantha Baranasuriya

Key backers: Foundamental, Seeds Capital, Wavemaker

Ackcio produces automated geotechnical remote sensors that verify ground stability at construction sites. Its backers include Wavemaker.

Agrist


Japan

Category: Agriculture

Year founded: 2019 • CEO: Jyunichi Saito

Key backers: Eneos Innovation Partners, Jafco

Answering a critical farmer shortage in Japan, Agrist has applied for Japanese and international patents for its AI-driven robot harvester. It says it charges $15,000 for a three-year lease plus 10% of a harvest’s profits, and has raised over $4.5 million in capital.

Alesca Life Technologies


China

Category: Agriculture

Year founded: 2013 • CEO: Stuart Oda

Investment banker-turned entrepreneur Stuart Oda’s Alesca works with customers worldwide to build indoor farms. The company says its base of turnkey farm equipment grew by 200% in 2019 and another 750% in 2020. It benefited from rising demand for local produce after Covid-19 disrupted food supplies and made consumers more health conscious.

Algal Bio


Japan

Category: Biotechnology & Healthcare

Year founded: 2018 • CEO: Amane Kimura

Key backer: University of Tokyo

Based on two decades of University of Tokyo research, Algal Bio says it cultivated 3,000 unique algae strains for use in biofuels, cosmetics, medicines and supplements. The company says it has raised $4.1 million in total funding, including from the university’s Edge Capital Partners, and expects to double sales this year to $1 million.

Ampd Energy


Hong Kong

Category: Construction & Engineering

Year founded: 2014 • CEO: Brandon Ng

Key backer: HKSTP

Using lithium-ion battery technology, Ampd Energy’s electric generators are said to power construction cranes while emitting less greenhouse gas and making less noise than traditional diesel generators. Ampd Energy says it launched its generators early last year and that they are already used by 20 property and construction companies, including Jardine Matheson’s Gammon.

Aquaconnect


India

Category: Agriculture

Year founded: 2017 • CEO: Rajamanohar Somasundaram

Key backers: Rebright Partners, Flourish Ventures

The Coastal Aquaculture Research Institute, operating as Aquaconnect, provides services for fish and shrimp farmers. In addition to a farm advisory and an online shop for equipment and supplies, Aquaconnect provides financing, insurance and a network for farmers to connect with potential customers. It says it raised $4 million in July in pre-series A funding led by Rebright Partners and Flourish Ventures.

Aroma Bit


Japan

Category: Technology

Year founded: 2014 • CEO: Shunichiro Kuroki

Key backers: Seiko Epson, Kyocera

A developer of chips to identify and digitize the data of scents, Aroma Bit released its first compact aroma sensor in January. Its uses include quality control for food products, health management and disease detection. The company’s backers include Japanese tech firms Seiko Epson and Kyocera.

Authing


China

Category: Technology

Year founded: 2019 • CEO: Xie Yang

Key backers: GGV Capital, MiraclePlus

In under two years, Authing says it has attracted investment from A-list investors including GGV Capital and MiraclePlus (previously called Y Combinator China) with its identity management tool. The product allows a single sign-on to multiple cloud-based applications, and protects against security breaches. Authing says its customers include China Merchants Bank, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Autocrypt


South Korea

Category: Logistics & Transportation

Year founded: 2019 • CEO: Daniel Kim

Key backers: Hyundai, Ulmus Investment

As self-driving cars rise in use, security for their computer systems becomes increasingly important. Autocrypt, a spinoff from Seoul-based Penta Security Systems, provides these cars with cybersecurity and data theft protection. Autocrypt says it has raised $15 million from investors including Hyundai’s venture arm and Ulmus Investment and is valued at about $45 million. The company expects to make $8.5 million in revenue this year, up from $3.4 million last year. Besides South Korea, Autocrypt says it has offices in Canada, China and Japan, and will expand to Europe, Singapore and the U.S.

BeatO


India

Category: Biotechnology & Healthcare

Year founded: 2015 • CEO: Gautam Chopra

Key backers: Orios Venture Partners, Blume Ventures

Health Arx Technologies’ BeatO is a platform for managing chronic diseases such as diabetes through subscription-based smart-phone monitoring, information and online supplies. Of its half-million app installs, nearly 300,000 are paid members with 25,000 joining monthly, according to BeatO. It says it recently raised $5.7 million and has partnered with a major insurer to expand beyond India.

Beau Bakery


Indonesia

Category: Food & Hospitality

Year founded: 2015 CEO: Talita Setyadi

Key backer: SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund

Founded by a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, Beau is a bakery and café brand operating restaurants and producing artisanal bread and pastries using locally sourced ingredients. Operated by Cahaya Mahakarya Lestari, Beau has a mission to train and grow talent. In 2019, Beau obtained funding from SEAF Women’s Opportunity Fund.

Bellatrix Aerospace


India

Category: Logistics & Transportation

Year founded: 2015 • CEO: Rohan Ganapathy

Key backers: IDFC Parampara, Survam Partners

Founded by then-university students, Bellatrix aims to create high performing, cost-efficient satellite propulsion systems, including a patented one that uses water as a propellant. Pre-revenue, Bellatrix says it raised about $3 million in 2019 from investors including IDFC Parampara and Survam Partners.

Belun Technology


Hong Kong

Category: Biotechnology & Healthcare

Year founded: 2016 • CEO: Lydia Leung

Key backers: HKSTP, Sino Group

Belun Technology developed a ring-like wearable device that can help medical professionals remotely monitor and assess patients’ sleep health. It can also collect biomarkers while a patient is asleep. Belun says it raised $7 million from investors including Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP) and property developer Sino Group’s Sino Inno Lab.

Betterplace


India

Category: Education &…

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