A spate of Russian startups descended on the Southeast Asian tech hub of Singapore this week in a quest to raise capital and form local partnerships to build a foothold in the region.
"It's not so easy to find investments from European or U.S. companies, perhaps because of the political situation, so we'd like to find investors here in Singapore," Alina Chunaeva, deputy director of financial technology venture Artquant, told CNBC on the sidelines of the tech business conference Echelon on Wednesday.
Moscow-based Artquant, which has developed a stock market analytics tool incorporating artificial intelligence, is currently operating off the $600,000 of funding put up by its Russian founders, according to tech website e27.
Equally high on Chunaeva's agenda during her maiden visit to the city-state is finding a local strategic partner that can help her fledgling company crack the lucrative Asian market.
"Our potential clients are traders, investment banks and different financial institutions so Singapore and Southeast Asia are very interesting for us," she said.
Artquant is one of 10 Russian startups taking part in the Singapore roadshow, organized by the Skolkovo Foundation, a Russian government-backed organization founded in 2010 with the aim of fostering technology innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
The startups – which are showcasing products ranging from ultra-compact electric vehicles to video surveillance technology - are meeting local venture funds, accelerators and state agencies to explore expanding into the region.
While this is Skolkovo's first roadshow in Singapore, it's not the incubator's first in Asia. Last year, it organized a similar visit to Hong Kong, which resulted in two companies starting production in China and one opening an office in Hong Kong.
Konstantin Artemyev, chief executive of electric vehicle upstart Bravo Motors, is keeping his fingers crossed that he too will strike a partnership that will help him gain access to Asia's burgeoning consumer market.
"We've seen interest from both investors and local partners. Right now, we're talking to a Singaporean company that is involved with car sharing," Artemyev said. "It's a good start for us."
While Russia itself is a large market, Igor Bogachev, vice president of the IT Cluster at Skolkovo Foundation, says Asia is a vast business opportunity that can't be missed.
"Asia is a big market for any IT company. The economies are growing pretty fast. That's why we believe the opportunities here," he said.
The question now is whether Asian investors are willing to look past the country's shaky political and economic backdrop.
Bogachev, however, insists that business should be viewed separately from politics.
"These are technology companies. They have nothing to do with sanctions," he said. But as a consolation prize for taking a chance with Russia's politics, the recent slide in the ruble makes investments into the country far cheaper for overseas investors, he noted.
The Russian currency has slumped over 60 percent against the U.S. dollar over the past 12 months.
Citation from CNBC : http://goo.gl/FsLFLh
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