Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and one of the emerging market economies of the world. But how the innovation ecosystem in the country is driving the pace of the nation’s economic growth? To discuss the innovation ecosystem of Indonesia, we interviewed Prof. Dr. Ir. Hadi Karia Purwadaria, Co-Founder and International Liaison of Association of Business Incubators in Indonesia (AIBI Network) or known as the “Father of Indonesia Business Incubators”.
Birth of Innovation Ecosystem In Indonesia
When Prof. Dr. Hadi started working as an academic researcher in 1980, there was a misinterpretation of the meaning of innovation. Researchers always think that having the result of the research is already considered an innovation. They didn’t really think about the commercialization part. Around 1995, ASEAN countries were proposed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Unido) to establish technology business incubators in each country to accelerate the commercialization of innovation. The Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs of Indonesia then launched business incubators at three universities and one under the government. Prof. Dr. Hadi was given the responsibility to establish a business incubator at Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB). It was a great challenge as the researchers needed to be trained to think about commercialization. Although they were themselves not allowed to be involved in business management or started their own business.
Empowering the Innovation Ecosystem Through AIBI Network
In 1995, the Indonesian government launched the National Entrepreneurship Program which resulted in more business incubators being launched. Unfortunately, some of the incubators did not survive and closed due to insufficient funds. Therefore, to strengthen the business incubators ecosystem in Indonesia, Prof. Dr. Hadi and nine co-founders established AIBI Network, an organization that oversees all business incubators in Indonesia. Through AIBI, they’ve managed to do training programs on the real meaning of innovation and enhance the capabilities of those business incubators. After 20 years of building the innovation ecosystem in Indonesia, Prof. Dr. Hadi thinks there are still gaps to be filled up especially for Deep Technologies (deep tech). There is not enough support in terms of funding and development programs for Deep Tech startups. Most venture capital firms are interested in IT-based startups for fast returns on investments. Meanwhile, Deep Tech startups, are having problems even just creating their product mold. There are a limited number of manufacturers for industrial machinery in Indonesia and their capabilities are limited.
TECH PLANTER Completed the Puzzle
In 2018, when Leave a Nest introduced TECH PLANTER in Indonesia, AIBI Network led by Prof. Dr. Hadi became the Strategic Partner and gave strong support for the program until today. When asked his opinion about TECH PLANTER, Prof. Dr. Hadi said “I think TECH PLANTER is a complete ecosystem with the right partners to support Deep-Tech startups and bridge them to the global ecosystem especially Japan.” One of the notable Indonesian startups that marked a great success in the TECH PLANTER ecosystem is TECH PROM Lab that won the TECH PLANTER World Communication 2020 and received prototyping support from Japanese manufacturers. Prof. Dr. Hadi believes that TECH PLANTER could be expanded to support more startups and drive the growth of the Indonesian economy.
Abdul Hakim Sahidi