Shanghai Knights 2018 included 11 Nordic start-ups

Shanghai Knights 2018 included 11 Nordic start-ups

Danske Bank together partner nHack kicked off the China Knights II with an event at Wework – a co-working space in the heart of Shanghai.

At China Knights II demo day 11 Nordic start-ups (leading technology companies coming out of the Nordic region) pitched in front of Asian business angels and venture capitalists, and representatives from some of the largest IT Tech companies in China, including JDcom, Alibaba, and Tencent.

The start-ups had five minutes of air time each, with pitches spanning everything from Norwegian seafood delicacies over drones for ship inspection to golfing augmentation equipment. Danske Bank reported that it was a “truly inspiring event, also for Danske Bank, resulting in several new contacts being made”.

China Knights is a free tech and VC festival in Shanghai. China Knights II was held during 13-15 June, in cooperation with CES Asia, the world’s largest consumer electronics show. The festival included one-on-one VIP meetings, lunches and dinner parties.

nHack is a venture firm bridging Nordic companies to Asia. nHack invest in Nordic businesses and help them access Asian markets. They work closely with Danske Bank, Innovation Norway, Innovation Center Denmark, NTNU University, Investinor, Wikborg Rein, Flex and China Equity.

They are a cross border investor, bridging Nordic businesses to China and Asia. nHack both invest in Nordic companies, but can also be the China joint venture partner. They are also an impact investor, looking for sustainable solutions and female founders. They are sector neutral as a firm, but have some areas they look more closely at than others; like ocean and maritime sectors, health and med-tech, consumer upgrade plays and education tech and software as a Service.

Sources: Danske Bank Corporations and Institutions, nHack

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ScandAsia – Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

Saint Hans celebrations this weekend

Saint Hans celebrations this weekend

The 23rd of July marks the annual Saint Hans celebrations throughout Scandinavia, and of course it’s celebrated in the community in SE Asia as well. We have collected some of the events to give you an overview. 

From an outsider’s perspective, the Saint Hans celebration may be one of the strangest things that Scandinavians do.

The coming weekend will be filled with Saint Hans celebrations all through SE Asia. Many organisations, churches and embassies will be hosting some kind of related events, commemorating the birth of John the Baptist, who was born six months before Jesus Christ.

We have made a small overview of some of the events, but there may still be many out there that we have missed, so we will encourage you to search in your local community as well.

Thailand: 

The Norwegian Sjømannskirken in Pattaya will be hosting this years celebration for only 350 baht (children under 10 attend for free). There will be sodas, water, coffee and open grills.

Hong Kong: 

The Danish-Thai Chamber of Commerce will, as is tradition, join hands with the Danish Seamen’s Church for the yearly midsummer junk by going on a cruise from Kowloon Beer. Seats are limited, but can be booked here.

China: 

SwedCham China is the host of this years Midsummer, or the Swedish Young Professionals to be more precise. There will be barbecue, live music and the practical stuff about the event can be found here.

Singapore:

The Danish Seamen’s Church in Singapore is this year’s host of the Danish Sankt Hans Aften this year with the traditional bon-fire and Midsummersangen.

 

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NordCham Philippines co-organised Maritime Forum

NordCham Philippines co-organised Maritime Forum

NordCham Philippines, in partnership with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the EU-Philippines Business Network, and the Philippines Norway Business Council organised the Maritime Forum at Sofitel Philippine Plaza hotel on June 7, 2018.

The Maritime Forum gathered 150 participants bringing together C-level executives, government officials, maritime executives, crewing agencies, and industry stakeholders to discuss the current trends and challenges in the maritime sector. After the presentations and Q/A, the forum finished with a networking lunch and a raffle ticket sponsored by KLM Philippines.

Source: Nordic Chamber of Commerce Philippines

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More EU aid for Rohingya

More EU aid for Rohingya

As the refugee crisis in Bangladesh and Myanmar continues the European Commission has released €40 million in humanitarian aid to provide life-saving support to vulnerable Rohingya civilians and host communities in Bangladesh and across Myanmar’s Rakhine State. This comes on top of the €51 million the Commission mobilised in 2017.

“The Rohingya crisis has reached unprecedented proportions in recent months with hundreds of thousands of people in need of humanitarian assistance. The EU is committed to help those most in need, both in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Our emergency aid will deliver essential supplies such as food, clean water and healthcare as well as support for the monsoon season,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, who visited EU aid projects in Bangladesh and Myanmar in 2017.

Out of the funding announced today, €29 million will go to the Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh to deliver food, nutritional support, clean water and sanitation facilities, access to health care services, as well as increased protection for the most vulnerable groups among refugees and host communities. Another €7 million will be used to scale up preparedness measures for the rainy season, which could trigger floods and landslides in what is currently the most densely populated refugee camp in the world. €4 million will go for Rohingya and host communities in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and provide protection, shelter, health, water, sanitation, food and psychosocial support.

The European Union has been funding humanitarian programmes in Cox’s Bazar since 1994 through international NGOs and the UN. Today’s emergency aid brings the total funding for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to more than €86 million since 2007.

Additionally, since 2010, the European Union has provided close to €81 million in humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, including in the more isolated northern areas. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was also activated in October 2017 to provide assistance in Cox’s Bazar.

Following major outbreaks of violence in Myanmar in August 2017, over 400,000 Rohingya and host communities are currently in need of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State, while about 700,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed the border into neighbouring Bangladesh. It is estimated that nearly one million Rohingya are now living in camps and settlements across Cox’s Bazar, bringing the total number of people in need of assistance to 1.3 million between the refugees and host communities living in the district. In addition, the refugee camps are extremely vulnerable to the flash flooding and mud landslides triggered by the on-going monsoon season, which typically lasts until October and could put 200,000 lives at risk.

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First ever Nordic Day celebrations held in Malaysia

First ever Nordic Day celebrations held in Malaysia

8 May 2018 saw the first Nordic Day celebrations ever held in Malaysia, as the five Nordic missions in Kuala Lumpur gathered friends and colleagues to celebrate years of ever-closer cooperation within what is perhaps the most integrated region in the world. Over 450 invited guests were present to mark the occasion, which took place in the Renaissance Hotel on the evening before Malaysia’s highly anticipated General Election.

Behind this initiative were the ambassadors of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and the Honorary Consul of Iceland, dedicated to promoting the nations’ shared values, friendship and mutual respect, and emphasizing the nations’ commitment to future trade and cooperation both with each other and with Malaysia. A joint celebration of the respective Nordic national days, Nordic Day also served to highlight the region’s close ties and many similarities. All five countries are part of the European internal market and members of the Schengen cooperation. Perhaps more interesting, all five are also amongst the top 10 happiest and most democratic countries in the world.

Following the toast by Datuk Ramlam Ibrahim, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norwegian Ambassador Gunn Jorid Roset led the opening remarks on behalf of the Nordic representatives. Ambassador Roset spoke of the Nordic region’s friendship and shared history, rooted in trade and travel even before the Viking ages two millennia ago, and how this legacy has resulted in the combined region today forming the 11th largest economy in the world. The Nordics share Malaysia’s commitment to an open global economy and fair playing grounds for international trade, with trade between the five Nordic nations and Malaysia averaging approximately 2 billion USD per annum – a figure far exceeded by the scale of the entire Nordic bilateral engagement in Malaysia, which includes countless investments across sectors.

The evening’s unique musical performance also demonstrated the region’s shared and cultural and linguistic history, as the Malaysian choir performed the first verses of each of the five national anthems, in their original languages and melodies. Though the phonetics and grammar differ in varying degrees, history has rendered Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Swedish to an extent mutually intelligible, with Swedish also being a recognized official language in Finland. Complimenting this, continuous videos exhibited across the room displayed some of the striking nature and culture that the Nordic region is intrinsically associated with. A further reference to the shared, iconic history of the Nordics was a classic Viking ship, carved entirely from ice and strategically placed alongside the tempting cake display in the centre of the ballroom.

On behalf of the Nordic missions in Malaysia, special thanks were given to the businesses that supported the very first Nordic Day in Kuala Lumpur and joined us in making it so memorable and successful. The missions thanked their main partners Saab, Bae Systems Bofors and Peter Justesen, and our partners Novo Nordisk, Ørsted Services, Wärtsila, Aker Solutions, Volvo Malaysia, Monitor ERP System, DNV GL, Archer Well, Jordan, Danfoss Industries, Haldor Topsoe, University of Helsinki, Absolut, Carlsberg, Laplandia, and Finnair for all your contributions.

The Nordic missions look forward to building on this successful experience with future collaborations.

Source: Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur

ScandAsia – Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

Responsible Business Conduct expert Gunelie Winum

Responsible Business Conduct expert Gunelie Winum

All businesses, including SMEs, are obliged to follow in particular the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies, when it comes to human rights and corporate social responsibility, or responsible business conduct.

Gunelie Winum is Senior Advisor at the Norwegian company Responsible Business Advisors (RBA). She has 15 years of experience within corporate social responsibility (CSR), including guidance and strategic advice to companies at risk, as well as training of companies and their suppliers.

Having trained some 2000 suppliers around Asia on how they to implement the policies set by Nordic and other international companies, she possesses a wealth of insights for all businesses.

At a Bangkok-held Nordic Corporate Social Responsibility workshop she presented the requirements and expectations of the international framework UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies, the United Nations Global Compact (initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies and to report on their implementation) and Sustainable Development Goals.

Gunelie explained that, compared to CSR, Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) is the more progressive term, and also what is referred to in a lot of international standards. “RBC means incorporating responsibility in their business operations. Conducted correctly, RBC is good for the own business, for the supply chain stakeholders; involving both management and the workers, and it´s good for local people and the environment. The difference with the term RBC is that it’s an effort to really specify that this concerns the core business activities and not some philanthropy.”

For instance, the term ‘materiality’ is important in RBC: “If you are in oil and gas, building schools is not related to the core business. FHow you affect the local community would be a concern. Your environmental potential damages would be a concern, including if your production pollutes the water, affecting the local fishermen. Then you would be infringing on their human rights and would be obliged to do something about it.”

Non-related RBC risks being nothing else than CSR activities that amounts to so called ‘green-washing’. “The best way to avoid green-washing is to question: will the action create actual and sustained positive impact for people and/or the planet?” Gunelie told ScandAsia.

“RBC is also an umbrella concept, which concerns the supply chain, working and environmental conditions, corruption etc. a lot of elements.”

“And it has evolved concerning ‘stakeholder’: now it is more and more focusing on those being affected by the production, e.g. the local stakeholders.

Expected to review all human rights
The international guidelines, standards and frameworks for RBC guide the work performed by the RBA advisory.

“There is a tremendous amount of guidelines, frameworks and certification schemes. The OECD Guidelines is an important one, and it’s not only for multinationals; it also applies to SMEs in OECD countries.”

OECD has also come with sectors standards and guidelines (garment and footwear, for instance).

“Many of the challenges and good practice in the garment and footwear sector guidance is also relevant to other sectors, for instance how a company´s own purchasing practices impact on working conditions in the local supply chain.”

Then, there are the core ILO conventions. “The elements that you put in your supplier code of conduct come from conventions and recommendations from the ILO, set by global employers’ trade unions and governments. There are close to 200 of them on different aspects of labour, and a lot of recommendations in addition.”

It’s up to each and every country to ratify those conventions, and by doing that they are obliged to include it in their internal labour law. However, there are four elements that are highlighted by the ILO as the most important conventions to work with. Forced labour, child labour, discrimination and right to organize and bargain collectively.

“It means that even if a country hasn’t ratified them, it is still obliged to follow those as an ILO member country.

Gunelie recommends companies to have an on-going process: “Do it step by step and as a continuous process– you are never done with whether you are violating human rights or not.”

“A company is expected to review all human rights. The declaration for human rights is the basis document and then you will have to review existing strategies, documents, supplier code of conduct, CSR strategy, and also your business strategies. Are our documents capturing all human rights? Yes, or no?”

“It is also recommended that you should establish a committee – that can be by the board or by the management. Also, say for a Swedish company you would have a committee in the headquarters but a sub-committee in the sourcing country, and that you hold regular meetings.”

“As for assessing whether you as a company have an adverse impact on human rights due to your production, and on the whole supply chain, you do that by conducting desk analysis and via consultations with potentially affected groups. And it’s not easy to assess how your business affects these; not only our business but your suppliers’ business. It’s quite a delicate task. It’s not for nothing that both the OECD guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights recommend that you should also use external expertise in this work, precisely because it’s quite complicated when you get down to it,” she explained.

“The production map is still very non-transparent. Sub-contracting still goes on. It is so easy to be fooled and there is no way to have full overview of everything but it is good that we have come this far as we have. But we [advisors] are still needed to engage companies in a better world.”
“Our company, RBA, has a network of Southeast Asia partners with expertise in various areas, which we contract depending on the client’s needs; for instance social auditors to inspect labour conditions, health and safety experts, environmental experts etc. We quality-assure the local experts and ensure that the actions are in line with international standards.”
As an example, Gunelie mentions that they are assigned by a large Norwegian company to do inspections of labour standards in China. “We found the right Chinese partner with experience in the particular sector and province to carry out the inspections. We jointly provide improvement support based on findings.”

RBC in their business DNA
“I fully understand international standards can seem daunting to SMEs. They are however obliged to follow those, such as those OECD Guidelines (OECD created a communication problem by referring to multinational companies in their title, but then stating here and there that it also applies to SMEs…!).”

“I have worked a lot with SMEs, and find they have several advantages; a main one being that they have long-term trade relationships which create trust; essential for sustained improvements. I also perceive SMEs to have a stronger culture of common-sense, with which one can come far.”

“Newly established SMEs seem to have RBC in their business DNA right from the beginning, for instance in offering environmental-friendly products, and/or offer products made with decent working conditions. RBA tailor-make the advice to each company’s needs. We´re not a consultancy doing the job for them, but guide and enable them to do the job themselves..”

Gunelie has also performed in-depth social dialogue training in Vietnam factories – with great results. “We can even prove that there is a business case for social dialogue: when management start dialoguing with workers they get a lot of constructive input which will also help their pure business KPIs. There is a very strong link between business KPIs and labour standards in factories. Same goes with child labour: we can prove that there is a business case for no child labour.”

She confirmed that human rights and labour issues if of highest risk in developing and emerging countries. “In many of such countries, legislation is OK and even strong on paper. Enforcing the legislation is more challenging, which has many reasons: Weak labour inspectorates and that governments neglect their own legislation in their attempt to attracting foreign investments (for example – by setting up free trade zones where workers are prevented from organizing).”

“On the micro-level, producers are challenged by what is termed as ’the race to the bottom’. Globalized trade makes it easy for a company to switch to a cheaper producer. This is particularly an issue in labour-intensive production like textile.”

“Most SEA countries have the whole range of factories – from the very best to very poor. A couple of good practice indicators are: i) the more and longer the local company has been in export oriented business, the better; ii) management who has studied abroad (particularly younger generation) are more ’modern’ in their thinking and hence able to adapt to international standards; iii) production which demands skilled workforce are of less risk to violation of labour standards.”

Other rampant problems are weak enforcement of legislation paired with corruption. “What companies can do is to have strong anti-corruption policies and procedures in place and be patient, for instance expect that a needed license might take months or even years longer to obtain.”

ScandAsia – Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia

ScandAsia premiered new destination theme

ScandAsia premiered new destination theme

In February ScandAsia launched its new destination theme format, with comprehensive coverage about the Malaysian state of Penang as the first destination to be featured. This new theme concept portrays, and showcases a destination – be it a state or a region – both from a business and lifestyle angle. ScandAsia digs deeper and finds about business and trade, Nordic business presence and also meet with Nordic locals. The idea is to offer exposure to the destination and businesses, and present how it is to live, work, run a business and invest there.

Penang is a well-known trading hub going back centuries, as well as a globally established manufacturing centre. At the same time it is a big culture and leisure destination, so in that sense it was the optimal one to start with! ScandAsia talked to Invest Penang, Nordic businesses, an expat family, and portrayed its incredibly diverse and rich heritage and lifestyle – a state, but also an island, truly in transition.

The theme concept is one of many new ingredients as part of the, from January 2018, regional ScandAsia format (11 magazines annually), digitally (to our global readership) and print-distributed through the coverage area (Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and China.

“This destination format is an excellent way for ScandAsia to dig deeper and really go beyond the well-trodden path, to present the various aspects, opportunities and attractions of a place more in-depth,” says Managing editor Joakim Persson. “We anticipate many exciting destinations to portray going forward and Penang showed that there is lot to tell. Going places is really an eye-opener, and to me personally Penang is really a favourite thanks to its unique mixture.”

The revamped magazine’s core mix also consists in: Business & Trade, Human resources, Products & Services, Community, Lifestyle and International relations, and other themes (in 2018 ‘Banking, Financing & Investment’, ‘Sustainability in Business’ etc.)

In addition to following ScandAsia.com, as a magazine reader you can stay well informed and kept abreast of key developments. You get served first-hand related and relevant news, information, invitations, advice, and marketing offers – educating and inspiring content over all!

“We are happy to be able to introduce a new concept for our ScandAsia platform. We are now focused more on the digital side and so we are trying to produce the best possible e-Magazine in which advertisements are clickable and linkable. Our ScandAsia print magazine also continues, which means that advertisements will be inserted in both the digital and the print edition. We are also building our ScandAsia.com website traffic, which at present has approx. 80.000 visitors per month. The website is a perfect tool to promote products and services towards mainly Scandinavian Expats in the whole South-East Asian region,” says Marketing manager Finn Balslev.

“Most definitely advertisers can take advantage of the new reach without paying extra and especially if their company was one with a regional presence, Frank Leong, Marketing director in Singapore.

“With traveling between countries being more frequent as the world globalizes, industries such as hospitality, property, education can benefit greatly from the exposure around the region.”

“No longer will they be held back by the limitations of paper distribution, instead they have the potential to be read by anyone on desktops, smartphones, tablets, etc.,” Frank comments on the e-magazine, which was enhanced with the launch of the new regional ScandAsia.

ScandAsia serves all Nordic people and the prospects and customers of Nordic brands and services within Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and China. As a matchmaker it also serves all sectors and businesses, both B2B and B2C, looking to reach their targets in Asia including our core readers and beyond.

ScandAsia – Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia