Startups from Cambodia, Malaysia, Sweden and Denmark wins Global Startup Awards

The winners of the 3rd Global Finale of the Global Startup Awards have just been announced. The Global Startup Award, the world’s largest independent startup ecosystem competition was founded in 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark and has over the last decade awarded companies such as UiPath, Zendesk, Supercell, Turbine and Grab.

The competition’s finalists were the regional winners of the 2019 season and included:

Nordic Startup Awards (Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden)
Central European Startup Awards (Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia)
South European Startup Awards (Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain)
EuroAsian Startup Awards (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine)
Southeast Asia (ASEAN) Startup Awards (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and
Southern Africa Startup Awards (Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe)

Covering all 47 countries from Africa, Asia and Europe.

The jury board, consisting of 39 specialists from different industries and representing 24 countries, was ranking each finalist before the event, according to the information obtained directly from the finalists. The jury ranking results were combined with the public voting results contributed from almost 18.000 individuals.

In pre-Covid times, the Global Grand Finale had been organized physically in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Changsha, China, but due to the pandemic, this edition was broadcasted online.

The winners’ announcement took place in the afternoon by Central European Time, while the invite-only Ecosystem Summit for the finalists and stakeholders was organized beforehand in the avatar-based virtual world of VirBELA. These participants also had the chance to book short 1:1 video meetings with each other on the ImpromtMe platform.

Founders of the Global Startup Awards added:

Kim Balle, co-founder and CEO said “The global winners’ geographical diversity reflects the global trend that the emerging startup ecosystems in Asia and Africa are fostering the next generation of startups capable of disrupting industries beyond their home market. Overall, in Global Startup Awards from 2012 and until now, we have seen a shift globally from national orientated startup ecosystems towards a more global interconnected ecosystem. We see more cross-border investment and that the startup expands to markets that in the past would have seen as not relevant,”

Péter Kovács, co-founder and Head of Friendships said “Finding and connecting the future shapers from all around the world – that has been our mission ever since we started the competition, which is already covering 105 countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe from 2021. The 9 winners announced today represent the cream of their startup ecosystems, selected in 3 rounds on the national, regional and global levels, from more than 20.000 nominees, so they truly deserve recognition and appreciation,”

From 98 global finalists in 9 categories, the winners are:

Best Newcomer: Trustchain (Hungary, Central European Startup Awards)

Trustchain builds trust between companies with legally binding digital contracts, right to sign verification, and settlement automation. Developed by lawyers, trade finance specialists, and IT security professionals.

Gergely Romhány, CEO and co-founder said “Providing digital trust, digital transformation in the legal industry for SMEs is really challenging; everybody can tell that. 2019 was the year when we stepped into the light after 2 years of preparation and showed what we could be capable of, and this award as the Best Newcomer is a great honor for us for that achievement! Also, I’m happy to say, in 2020, we achieved 30x growth in our user numbers and truly became one of the fastest-growing startups in the region. This is how the Best Newcomer prize is truly proved to be worthy.”

James Nakagawa, Strategy & Biz Dev for Family Investment Offices, a Global Jury Board member from Japan said “Innovation was always truly global, and now it is good to see more diverse startups get the global attention and respect that they so deserve. All of the global finalists remind me of what Henry Ford said, “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all but goes on making his own business better all the time.” and each year, the Global Startup Awards finalists prove this point,”

Startup of the Year: Pleo Technologies (Denmark, Nordic Startup Awards)

Pleo is an out-of-the-box business spending solution that offers smart payment cards for employees, enabling them to buy the things they need for work.

Martin Rune Hoxer, Executive Director of Innovation Centre Denmark, a Global Jury Board member from China said “As a manager, you want to reduce the paperwork and free more time to spend on the real content for your team. Pleo provides a simple solution that gives you just that. And I am excited with the product and not least how they have scaled their business – well done, and I am sure much more is there for them to achieve”

Xavier Sarras, Founding Partner of 4P Capital, a Global Jury Board member from Germany said “The global Fintech startup scene has, during the past five years, gone through an enormous development. The Danish are no exception where the ecosystem has become very advanced and powerful compared to the size. Pleo is born in this ecosystem. Their product solves an old but still very relevant problem for its customers and does it with style and user-friendliness, hard to compete with. Furthermore, their growth and ability to keep growing is impressive. This is why Pleo deserves to win the Startup of the Year category.”

Founder of the Year: Kengo Kitaura (Cambodia, ASEAN Startup Awards)

Kengo founded Argibuddy which mission is to help farmers through financial services facilitation. They are the aggregators of the agriculture supply chain from the early stage of cultivation to crop trading.

“Agribuddy is an Agri-tech company born in 2016 with a vision to act as a “one stop” solution for all headaches of farmers across developing countries. From facilitating finance to agri advisory to agri Inputs and crop purchase, Agribuddy’s got it all covered under one roof. We were majorly able to advance towards our mission to improve economic condition and quality of life of farmers in these past 4 years, and we are honored to be awarded in the category of “Best founder” among so many potential nominations. This award motivates us a lot and enhances our confidence to continue going further and further and expand our services across globe,” said Kengo.

Investor of the Year: Gobi Partners (Malaysia, ASEAN Startup Awards)

Gobi Partners is one of the first venture capital firms with a regional presence across China, Hong Kong, and ASEAN, with over $1.1 billion in assets under management. The firm, headquartered in Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur, supports entrepreneurs from the early to growth stages and focuses on emerging and underserved markets. Founded in 2002, Gobi has raised 13 funds to date, invested in over 250 startups, and has grown to ten offices across Bangkok, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo.

Best Acceleration / Incubation Programme: Axeleo (France, South Europe Startup Awards)

Axeleo is an independent European acceleration platform dedicated to Enterprise Technology & SaaS startups, owned by a partnership of over 60 serial entrepreneurs & international executives, and backed by the French Tech Acceleration fund. Targeting B2B startups as well as the innovation programs of major groups, Axeleo provides founders and intrapreneurs with entrepreneurial, operational, and financial support to accelerate their growth.

Best Coworking Space: Workshop17 (South Africa, Southern Africa Startup Awards)

Workshop17 doesn’t just create coworking spaces; they connect people and businesses, offering entrepreneurs and professionals growth through collaboration, serendipity, and more than a little magic. Tenants aren’t just booking a workspace; they’re joining a thriving hove of insight, a network of opportunities, a melting pot of expert skill-sharing.

People’s Choice – Startup: Soundboks (Denmark, Nordic Startup Awards)

Over 50.000 products sold in over 40 countries, Soundboks produces the loudest, concert-level volume, and high-durability portable and wireless speakers, the only one in the market with swappable batteries and performance-ready microphone and instrument inputs.

People’s Choice – Individual: Sara Rajabli (Azerbaijan, EuroAsian Startup Awards)

Sara is an award-winning social entrepreneur based in Azerbaijan. She is the founder of BUTA Art & Sweets, the first social enterprise to promote employment opportunities for Women with special needs.

“Sara has been actively involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for years, focusing on social challenges and marginalised groups. Her work and commitment should stand as an excellent example for many. We, at EuroAsian Startup Awards, are incredibly proud to see her as a winner at Global Startup Awards’ stage and makes us all proud as a region!” said Attila Sándor, President of MeOut Group and co-founder of EuroAsian Startup Awards.

Photo: Chalmers Ventures

People’s Choice – Startup Ecosystem Supporter: Malin Frithiofsson (Sweden, Nordic Startup Awards)

Malin Frithiofsson is President Of The Board at Women In Tech Gothenburg and programme manager at Startup Norway.

Malin said “As the saying goes: it takes a village to raise a successful startup – and having a platform such as Global Startup Awards, making that metaphorical village a global one, is so fantastic. I am thrilled to play a small part in furthering the global startup ecosystem and to have this opportunity to connect with entrepreneurial people from all parts of the world.”

The Global Startup Awards regions were sponsored in 2020 by BioInnovation Institute, Innovation Center Denmark, SpaceNet, VirBELA, Impromptme, Livatek, SAHARA, Goodwille, Vækstfonden, The Danish Green Investment Fund, Department for International Trade UK, Italian Ministry for Technological Innovation and Digitalisation, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italian Ministry for Economic Affairs and Cooperation, Italian Trade Agency, Techstars Italia, Compagnia San Paolo, I3P, Fondazione CRT, OGR Torin.

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