Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - MBI programme fosters ag startups

MBI programme fosters ag startups

Head of Mekong Business Initiative Dominic Mellor speaks about new MATCh programme at an event yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Head of Mekong Business Initiative Dominic Mellor speaks about new MATCh programme at an event yesterday in Phnom Penh. Robin Spiess

MBI programme fosters ag startups

The Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) launched a new startup accelerator programme aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the agriculture sector in the Mekong region, with specific focuses on international companies eyeing expansion and early-stage local agritech startups, the head of the initiative said yesterday.

MBI, a programme launched by the Asian Development Bank and funded by the Australian government, has developed the Mekong Agriculture Technology Challenge (MATCh) platform to boost funding for agriculture in a region where agritech can make a significant impact, said Dominic Mellor, head of MBI.

“By 2050, the population of Asia is going to grow to 5.2 billion people, and the Mekong region is going to be critical in providing food for those people,” he said. “But we have limited resources and challenges to production, so the answer is going to be technology.”

With agriculture identified as a key growth sector for regional economies, the MATCh platform will look to boost private-sector-led innovation.

“We have a focus on supporting young entrepreneurs,” he said. “Everything starts with grassroots initiatives. They identify the people with ideas, and we give those people the opportunity to have their ideas scaled and funded.”

The MATCh project, which officially launched its application for interested businesses two days ago, will run for about six months and will seek to create partnerships between local entrepreneurs or startups and experienced innovators in the industry from across the world.

A successful application to the programme will put forth an idea which has the potential to enhance the efficacy of agricultural value chains, promote sustainability and advance farmers’ livelihoods.

“The proposal has to be commercial, and it has to be able to have an impact,” said Mellor.

According to Sambath Sak, MBI’s Cambodia Regional Manager, the project will be outfitted with a panel of local experts who will review business proposals and decide which startups are most commercially viable.

“The [MATCh programme] allows for selected businesses to get their technologies or products tested and validated within the country,” he said. “We will form a local committee made up of business and industry experts in Cambodia to join us in evaluating and selecting the best solutions and startups for Cambodia and the Mekong region.”

The project will culminate in a summit in Vietnam where selected startups will get the opportunity to pitch their ideas to potential investors.

ID Capital, a venture capital investor in agritech and food tech, is co-organizing MATCh along with MBI and is expected to bring more investment partners into the programme, said Sak. Local partners, including makerspaces Trybe and Confluences Incubateur, have agreed to implement pieces of the MATCh programme as well to promote agritech in the Kingdom.

“The countries of the Mekong region face many common challenges,” said Sak. “They also share a common need to invest in technologies that contribute to more robust supply chains for safe and nutritious food.”

MOST VIEWED

  • All foreigners' accommodations to be inspected: Sar Kheng

    The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers. Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • NBC eyes KHQR payments in Laos, Vietnam

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) is working with Lao and Vietnamese authorities to expand the use of KHQR code cross-border payment systems to promote trade and investment as well as increase the scope of regional economic linkages, and in particular, facilitate remittances from overseas