Expanding into another country and conquering global markets is the dream of every startup. However, it requires a well-prepared internationalisation strategy and a combination of trial and error. The term “foreign liability” is well known in business literature and describes the inherent disadvantage as well as additional costs that foreign companies face when expanding into other geographies. To mitigate these risks, startups must carefully select their markets and plan ahead.

Incubator, accelerators and other startup multipliers play an important role in helping startups to internationalise. A core mandate of startup actors is usually to provide networks, basic services as well as coaching and mentoring support. Extending these services to startups’ internationalisation efforts is therefore a natural fit. Additionally, policy makers play an important role in the internationalisation of start-ups. Not only do they provide funding to startup actors such as incubators and accelerators to establish internationalisation programs, but they also are important stakeholders to establish cross-country collaborations on a higher political level.

AsiaBerlin program run by the Berlin Senate, which connects startup ecosystems in Asia and Berlin is an example of a program also working with policy makers in these countries. But the program not only offers collaboration between policy makers but also integrates multipliers and startups in their activities.

The program was first established in 1997, when the Senate Chancellery under the Governing Mayor of Berlin initiated the Asia-Pacific Week with a strong focus on promoting intercultural cooperation with Asia. After 14 years, the program was moved to the Senate Department for Economics and received a stronger focus on economic cooperation with Asia. As the startup ecosystem gained traction in Berlin, a startup focus was integrated into the program’s activities in 2016.

Today, the Berlin Senate’s efforts are known as AsiaBerlin. Asia Pacific Week has been renamed AsiaBerlin Summit and is the flagship event of the program. The next AsiaBerlin Summit is scheduled for October 4-10, 2021 and will be a hybrid event. Interested in joining? For more information about the Summit, visit the AsiaBerlin website: https://www.asia.berlin/summit/

AsiaBerlin forms a common platform that brings together communities within the startup ecosystems in Asia and Berlin. The program facilitates relationship-building between investors, startups, and bridge builders by organising monthly AsiaBerlin events and delegation trips to Berlin and Asia throughout the year. The program works on a meta level and facilitates networks between all stakeholders within the startup ecosystems including intermediary organisations with the goal to support connections and cooperation of startups and their partners in Berlin and the partner hubs.

Over the years, the program has proven its success by facilitating investments and helping startups expand into new markets in Asia and Germany. With the help of AsiaBerlin, Berlin-based startup Infarm received an investment from Ikuo Hiraishi, who subsequently incorporated the company in Japan and became its Managing Director. During the AsiaBerlin Summit, a ChinaBridge was established as part of the Science & Startup Initiative, a program of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin and Charité Universitätsmedizin which aims to support science-based founders from these universities to connect to China. The program is currently conducted virtually, and 10 startups have participated in the program so far. In addition, Tim Koschella, Co-Founder & Shareholder of IONIQ Group (formerly HitFox), met with an angel investor during the AsiaBerlin Summit press conference. The Chinese investor subsequently invested in the company to help it enter the Chinese market.

If you want to understand more about the program and how it has fostered cooperation between Asia and Berlin in the startup ecosystem, have a look at the report “Internationalisation of Incubators & Start-ups – 

A compilation of best-practices from Germany & Austria
” facilitated by the GINSEP team: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6825731517860343808