Cambodia and Vietnam – the rising Asian tigers

Cambodia and Vietnam are emerging as new economic powerhouses. These once war-torn countries are sloughing off the chains of their embattled history and gaining ground as two of the fastest-growing economies in Asia, attracting impressive inward investment and opening up fresh global markets.

Vietnam is strategically located on the South China Sea stretching North to China, with Cambodia situated to the west along the Gulf of Thailand; both share land borders with each other and with neighbouring countries on the peninsula, including Laos. Manufacturing dominates the economic output in both regions, thanks to the preferential access it offers investors to large and developed markets via the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area (AFTA).

Cambodia – ‘Factory Asia’

Cambodia’s garment manufacturing expertise puts it at the heart of an established global supply chain, with exports to the EU accounting for 40% of its output, closely followed by the Unites States at 30%. Major multinationals like Gap, Marks & Spencer and Uniqlo have long-standing relationships with contract manufacturers here.

Concerted efforts by the Cambodian government in the 1990s helped to boost its manufacturing profile and promote overseas investment. Today, the garment industry still accounts for a significant percentage of Cambodia’s GDP and the majority of its exports.

This so-called ‘Factory Asia’ economic growth model relies on low-cost labour to provide a competitive export proposition and has lifted millions of people out of poverty across Asia. But it’s not the only contributor to Cambodia’s growth. Services, finance, transport and communications are all driving investment and adding value to the country’s economy. Innovative ventures are also taking the plunge in Cambodia, like Phnom Penh-based brewer Kingdom Breweries.

Vietnam – forging a startup ecosystem

Vietnam is among the fastest-growing nations in the world, due mainly to its annual double-digit rises in manufacturing and exports. It ranks in eighth place in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rankings 2018 for the East Asia and Pacific region, and occupies fifth place among its fellow ASEAN countries. But it’s also becoming a magnet for savvy startups, largely as a result of Ho Chi Minh City’s young, vibrant population and entrepreneur community.

The tourism sector is gaining traction and generating many new opportunities for further growth, too. Startup accelerator Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) is providing much-needed mentorship to tourism companies across the region, with tourism tech leading the way.

Ho Chi Minh is investing in a Vietnamese version of Silicon Valley. The Saigon Silicon City Centre is attracting investment from a group of high-tech sectors including micro-electronics, IT, telecoms, engineering, biotech and energy, and will host workshops, commission research projects and incubate startups. Tech startup hubs like Dreamplex are also emerging in the capital, while the coastal city of Da Nang is one of only 33 cities worldwide to receive IBM’s ‘Smarter Cities Challenge’ grant to improve infrastructure.

Amazing cultural experiences await

Exploring the rise of Cambodia and Vietnam in the global economy is fascinating stuff but a journey into the region’s cultural history will pay dividends, too.

Phnom Penh’s glorious Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo Morokat) are itinerary essentials. The Palace serves as the King’s residence, with the pagoda acting as a venue for royal ceremonies and home to a priceless collection of Buddhist and other historical objects.

A Mekong Delta tour offers a glimpse of rural Vietnam, with its tranquil canals, paddy fields and breathtaking landscapes – a sharp contrast to the buzz of the city streets

Berlin – Europe’s burgeoning tech hub

Berlin is undergoing a quiet revolution. A city that was once scarred by a physical and political schism has cast off its grim cold-war legacy and is being transformed into a buzzing European capital by an avalanche of investment and the influx of talented tech-preneurs from across the world.

Earlier this year, a Savills study awarded the city its global top spot for ‘buzz and wellness’ – a metric that takes account of social, cultural and environmental factors such as entertainment and commuting times. 

Technology is in Berlin’s DNA

Berlin’s technology focus is nothing new. A hundred years ago, the city was something of a prototype Silicon Valley, dubbed ‘Elektropolis’ thanks to innovations pioneered by homegrown electronics manufacturers Siemens and AEG.

Flip the dial to 2017 and Berlin’s thirst for cutting-edge tech is now driving the advancement of the fastest-growing startup eco-system in the world, attracting impressive venture capital inflows and providing exciting investment opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Berlin’s success is due, in part, to its economic agility. Relatively low living costs, coupled with affordable office and studio spaces and a relatively bohemian culture has made it an attractive prospect for digital freelancers and progressive startups everywhere. The explosion of an ambitious, relatively young professional population has, in turn, created a vibrant community of artists and entrepreneurs that is sparking a new wave of innovation in Germany’s uber-cool capital.

Tech startups are leading the way but others are hot on their heels

It’s estimated that a startup business is being founded in Berlin every twenty minutes, with inward investment out-performing traditional business hubs, including London. This traffic is being given additional impetus by Brexit, as foreign investors look for fresh and fertile business locations on the European mainland.

International tech giants like Google and Facebook are at the vanguard of investment; Google already funds the Factory Berlin tech hub and is set to open a campus in Kreuzberg later this year. Locally grown companies like incubator Rocket Internet, music streaming service SoundCloud, food delivery firm Delivery Hero and Auto1, an online used car marketplace, are also making headlines with record levels of market capitalisation.

Berlin’s social and cultural highlights

A visit to Berlin is a must for anyone who’s interested in the anatomy of a successful startup but there’s plenty to enjoy away from the boardroom.

Berlin’s built environment speaks of its political history, as well as being informed by the input of modern architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. No visit to the German capital is complete without a walk along what’s left of the Berlin Wall, more than twenty-seven years after the reunification of Germany.

A trip to the Holocaust Memorial, located just south of the Brandenburg gate, is also time well spent. The memorial pays tribute to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust; the five-acre site features 2,711 concrete ‘stelae’, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field in a poignant reminder of lives lost.



How to Make the Most of Your Next Innovation Tour

Whether you are an MBA joining your class on your next international trek or an entrepreneur looking for the optimal environment to start a business – innovation tours can be extremely valuable in providing insight and knowledge into the world’s business and innovation ecosystems.

Our innovation immersions will involve planned visits to a series of notables companies and academic lectures, pitch events, guided tours and conferences with panel discussions. The problem is, these innovation ecosystems are extremely complex and their structure are not easy to grasp. To get at their true essence, it is paramount to go beyond appearances and delve deep into these complex environments by constantly observing, questioning and listening.

Visible activities such as start-up incubators and angel investor meetings merely provide detail to the outer layer and more obvious aspects of the ecosystem. To gain vital insight deep into the core of these ecosystem and understand the real drivers of entrepreneurship, a focus on the subtle elements is needed.

For example, an innovation tour to South Korea would benefit greatly from a visit to a military camp to observe young South Koreans undergoing military exercises. With military service being mandatory in South Korea, our innovation programme will give precious insight to the culture and mindsets of the people there.

Entrepreneurs alone do not reflect the whole entrepreneurship ecosystem. Researchers, investors, non-profits and government officials are just a few of the actors that help make up the network within the ecosystem. Focusing on different actors will help you understand the different motives for innovation in the ecosystem. Look for the conflict and collaboration between these actors and revel in it, not only will it give you a broader view of the whole landscape but will also directly reveal their entrepreneurship culture.

Optimizing the value and knowledge you gain from your innovation immersions requires a degree of susceptibility and inquisitiveness from your part. Innovation tours are not a place for re-active learning – you must be pro-active. As Einstein once said: “the important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”. So be curious and be engaged. The responsibility lies on to you have the desire to unearth information from all angles which will be crucial to your quest in understanding these complex entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems.

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Time to Lift the Iron Curtain

Thrilling and exciting, yet mysterious and impenetrable, Russia has long been a place of enormous economic opportunities despite the ongoing political debates and financial risks. The sixth largest economy in the world with 99% literacy rate, 200 different ethnicities, 30% of world’s natural resources and growing investment portfolio, Russia attracts further attention to two major cities: Moscow – the capital, and Saint Petersburg – the unofficial cultural capital.
Moscow contributes 20% of state GNP and hosts most of financial, retail and trade headquarters. Around 300 banks and 7,000 MNCs and foreign representatives position themselves in Moscow. Due to its strategic location, an abundance of qualified cheap labor and R&D innovation facilities, Moscow and its region has become an important industrial complex for aviation such as Aeroflot and energy plants including Gazprom and Lukoil.

Another reason to visit Moscow is the Russian alternative to Silicon Valley – Skolkovo Cluster – a massive accelerator with 23,000 sqm of lab, factory and office space. Moscow is a city booming with energy and waiting to be explored.
Saint Petersburg, known as the northern capital, is an important industrial and transport hub for the entire country. It hosts some of the biggest state corporations such as Gazprom Oil as well as world famous power turbines manufactories such as LMZ. As a transport corridor, the city connects Baltic and Nordic Europe to Russia as well as all the vital Arctic production to country center. Mother City to Russian president and the major political party, the city is full of lobbyists that influence essential public policy.
Due to the concentration of political power and interest, St. Petersburg hosts infamous International Economic Forum every June where lobbyists and businesses from all over the world come together to learn more about Russian trade and investment opportunities.

One of Russia's trademarks all over the world is vodka, and St. Petersburg's distilleries offer brands ranging from the oldest one, LIVIZ, to the young success, the Russian Standard Vodka exported to over 70 countries.

Moscow City

Moscow City

Singapore - The World's First Smart and  Easiest City to do do Business in!

As inconspicuous as it may seem, Singapore has made a mark in the global economy. The “little red dot” as it is affectionately called is home to a diverse ethnic, religious and cultural population of approximately 5.6 million people. Located in the heart of Southeast Asia, it has access to a market of 3 billion people.

Singapore has billed itself to become a ‘Smart Nation’ for its adoption of technology and has been ranked by the World Bank to be the easiest country to do business in and as one of the “most open” and “most pro-business” in the world.
Its low-tax rates are also a benefit to global investors while it is also recognized as the fastest changing digital economy, being a prime tech innovation hub. 

Legacy Ventures recently organised a global immersion for a group of MBAs focussed on leveraging digital for business transformations and supply chain logistics.  

The immersion incorporated visits and discussions with some of the leading organizations in Singapore such as Amazon Web Services; a subsidiary of to get an insight into cloud computing and Global Logistics Properties (GLP); one of the leading providers of modern logistics and facilities operating over a huge market. In addition, they visited the headquarters of Singapore’s flag carrier, Singapore Airlines and learnt more about the workings of the city’s port at PSA International. 

In between, the MBAs were also able to take in the sights and sounds of this cultural enclave. They immersed themselves in the traditions of one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore – Tiong Bahru, paid a visit to the 90-year old Qi Tian Gong temple, Singapore’s oldest temple, and indulged in delectable pastries at the historic Galicier Pastry. 

Throughout the week-long immersion, they were able to delve into what makes Singapore such an economically competitive city and still maintains the cultural heritage that ultimately makes Singapore unique. 

Top 10 Multi-Destination Immersions for 2017

1. Tokyo & Seoul

Currently the world’s third-largest economy by nominal GDP and host to the upcoming 2020 Olympics, Japan has come far from the aftermath of its post-war era and has quickly established from its industrial sector an international recognition for quality and excellence. However, aside from its prevalence in manufacturing and finance, Japan’s entertainment industry is not to be ignored. Its cultural impact in the West, driven by the rising population of animation studios such as Madhouse and Studio Ghibli and Nintendo’s strong re-emergence in its joint venture with Google-born Niantic Labs, has re-opened a new chapter in cultural trade and travel. 

South Korea’s spread is growing to a similar level with the popularity of its television shows, dramas and music reaching global audiences, resulting in the Hallyu Wave phenomenon and the cultivation of a rapidly mounting tourist drive over the last 15 years. Together, Japan and South Korea serve as two of East Asia’s most attractive cultural destinations and, with a complex past relationship, make for extremely intriguing countries to visit in tandem.

2. Hangzhou & Shanghai

Hangzhou underwent a huge transformation earlier this year in preparation for the G20 Summit with factories shut down for the duration of the event, new transport links built and home-owners moved to temporary accommodation while the provincial capital of Zheijiang welcomed its esteemed guests to the city. Following the summit, property sales hit a new high and even more tourists have flocked to the hometown of Alibaba to marvel at the illustrious West Lake and the city’s other natural gems. 

There has never been a more exciting time to visit Hangzhou. Just under an hour’s journey by high-speed train, couple it with the world’s most populous city and global financial and transport hub, Shanghai, for an immersive comparison between China’s international metropolis and one of its most up-and-coming business destinations.

3. Singapore & Ho Chi Minh City Continuously voted one of the safest yet most expensive cities in the world, luxury and high-rise buildings thrive in the world’s only island city-state and the financial hub of Asia: Singapore. Though prices can be eye-wateringly high, this ‘Lion City’ tops the list for achievement in numbers. Including being one of the most technology-ready nations and the best place in the world to move to and work in as an expat, it is also home to the world’s first Michelin-starred street stall and a population spanning several different cultures amongst its mini sub-districts. Though the vibe from its neighboring country could not be more different, Vietnam is similarly a place of bustling activity and technological embrace. From agricultural village to booming tech incubator, Ho Chi Minh has been cited by some to become the world’s next Silicon Valley. With big-shots such as Samsung investing billions in its tech market, this ambitious goal is not far from becoming reality.

3. Singapore & Ho Chi Minh City

Continuously voted one of the safest yet most expensive cities in the world, luxury and high-rise buildings thrive in the world’s only island city-state and the financial hub of Asia: Singapore. Though prices can be eye-wateringly high, this ‘Lion City’ tops the list for achievement in numbers. Including being one of the most technology-ready nations and the best place in the world to move to and work in as an expat, it is also home to the world’s first Michelin-starred street stall and a population spanning several different cultures amongst its mini sub-districts.

Though the vibe from its neighboring country could not be more different, Vietnam is similarly a place of bustling activity and technological embrace. From agricultural village to booming tech incubator, Ho Chi Minh has been cited by some to become the world’s next Silicon Valley. With big-shots such as Samsung investing billions in its tech market, this ambitious goal is not far from becoming reality.

4. Dubai & Mumbai

Dubai is hands-down the driving force of diversification within the Middle East, building the nation from a formerly oil-based economy into a now tourist, hospitality and property hotspot. Its economy has steadily grown since the crisis in 2009 and, with the World Expo 2020 to be set in its sands, is forecast to continue this trend over the coming years.

In growth, India is no different. On the cusp of a major growth phase and making leaps in social and creative developments, India is growing at a rate higher than China with no signs of slowing down. Combining both destinations provides an insight into how two drastically different developing countries, each with their own social issues, are shaping their economic futures. The two destinations further equip participants with an immersion into the expat scene of Dubai and the city’s relationship with its migrant workers from India.

5. Prague, Bucharest & Athens

The most stable and prosperous of the post-Communist states, the Czech Republic has seen steady growth in recent years led by a thriving automotive industry and large amounts of foreign investment and trade relations with partner countries, particularly Germany.

No doubt, the focus on Central-Eastern Europe is heightening, with Romania at the forefront becoming the fastest-growing economy of the quarter in this region and Greece making a comeback, finally tackling its enormous debt through a change in budget plans and resurgence in incoming tourists.

The region looks to be making exciting developments at the moment with the gaze no longer solely on their European counterparts in the West.

6. Reykjavik & Stockholm

High standards of living and an emphasis on quality education make the Nordic countries prime breeding grounds for talent and innovation. 

With its host of natural resources, Iceland is currently one of the leading nations pushing forward on renewable and sustainable energy advancements globally. A human-centered approach is at the core of Sweden’s business culture, with the concept of a 6-hour workday seeking to switch up the conventional nine-to-five arrangement elsewhere in the world.

Both countries are rising rapidly in the global competitiveness charts and are looking to become key examples of what nations can achieve when their most important assets are utilized fully in a sustainable and ethically-aware manner.

7. Cape Town & Gaborone

South Africa lands itself just after Nigeria as the second-largest economy in the continent with Cape Town pushing forward as one of its main economic hubs and as the most developed and entrepreneurial city in the region. Amid colourful vineyards, eclectic mountaintop flora and a glimmering coastal view it is no wonder that one of the city’s main markets is its tourism industry.

While Botswana holds many similar visual elements, this mineral-rich nation is a world apart in its industry make-up. Once a barren wilderness, Botswana has built its wealth through the mining of gold and diamonds. In its 50th year, it is now investing further in its people and services industry, paving way for new technologies which will allow for the country to enter a more sophisticated development into a modern economy. A trip involving the two destinations equips participants with a key look into the entrepreneurial landscapes forming and current contrasts in business climate.

8. Nairobi & Kigali

A strong manufacturing, tourism and tech presence dominate Kenya’s capital city with Nairobi serving as the base for a host of multinational headquarters in Africa, including big-name brands Google and Coca-Cola. Nairobi is the perfect example of a natural metropolis as skyscrapers can be seen from its national park which houses no shortage of wildlife including wildebeest, zebras and giraffes.

Similarly, wildlife proves a main attraction in nearby Rwanda, one of only three countries where the elusive mountain gorilla can be seen in its natural habitat. Gorilla tracking in the Volcanoes National Park entices thousands of eager visitors each year who are willing to shell out the cash for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

9. Buenos Aires & Santiago

South America has long been the holy grail for many backpackers, combining affordability, adventure, beauty and a vibrant Latin-American culture for the ultimate travel experience. However, due to the instability of its economic and political situation, the region has often been overlooked in the past as a prominent business destination.  

2017 is set to change this. Once one of the world’s most influential economies, Argentina is opening again for business and growth has already been forecast for the coming months after some tough years of recession and economic inflation. Likewise, Chile – currently one of South America’s most prominent nations, is making a move to boost economic growth and has already begun strengthening international trade relations in an effort to aid this. 

In the wake of these developments, there could not be a more exciting time to immerse oneself in the business climate of two of the world’s most vibrant and stimulating countries.

10. Silicon Valley & Los Angeles

Home to the largest concentration of entrepreneurs, billion-dollar startup unicorns and VCs in the world, San Francisco and the Valley have long led the innovation train and serve as the base for some of the world’s most successful, creative and pioneering companies. 

However, while the pace of innovation in the Valley is arguably unmatched, entrepreneurship in the US runs further than San Francisco and upscale Los Angeles is also seeing its own boom in entrepreneurs starting small-scale, boutique fitness, tech, fashion and lifestyle brands.  Over 500 tech startups already reside in the Westside’s aptly-named ‘Silicon Beach’ and currently more investments than ever are being put into retaining the city’s talent. With the recent opening of the nation’s largest incubator in LA, entrepreneurial growth in the media capital is set to skyrocket.

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