UK-ASEAN Digital Business Challenge Launch

UK tech SMEs are invited to express interest in the new UK-ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Digital Business Challenge.

The UK Tech Cluster Group is working with Sunderland Software City and the Department for International Trade to partner with two organisations who are operating across Southeast Asian Nations, to present organisational challenges and commercial opportunities to UK tech SMEs.

The pilot competition will enable two ASEAN based organisations to solve a challenge quickly, easily and cost-effectively, whilst enabling UK digital tech SME companies the opportunity to work in new markets.

Information surrounding the ASEAN business challenges are soon to be released and SMEs can now express interest in receiving more information:

Expressions of interest are open until 1st of October 2020. Register your interest via


Why participate? Benefits to UK tech SMEs

The UK-ASEAN Digital Business Challenge is developed with the following benefits for SMEs in mind:

  • Opportunity for commercial contract with an organisation operating in the ASEAN market
  • Opportunity to export solutions to the ASEAN market
  • 1:1 Pitch training and mentoring
  • Insight into real issues that are affecting global businesses
  • Remote delivery and support


What will be involved?

  • Step 1: Written application to your chosen Business Challenge (to be published. Express interest for more info)
  • Step 2: If successfully shortlisted, you will receive remote pitch training and mentoring from our in-house team of experts
  • Step 3: If shortlisted, you will deliver a remote pitch to a panel of senior leaders from the ASEAN challenge owner
  • Step 4: Receive feedback from your pitch
  • Step 5: Successful companies will agree on commercial contracts with the ASEAN organisation


What is a business challenge?

Business challenges connect challenge providers (often large corporates or local authorities) with potential suppliers (i.e. UK tech SMEs) – providing innovative commercial opportunities. A challenge provider will present an issue and UK tech SMEs will be invited to pitch solutions that incorporate digital technologies – successful pitches will progress toward commercial contracts and development.

The UK-ASEAN Digital Business Challenge follows the Business Challenge 2.0 framework, developed by Sunderland Software City.

The Business Challenge 2.0 approach means challenge owners receive not just a solution but an ecosystem of new partners they can build future relationships with. The process commits both business challenge owners and SMEs to the following ways of working:

  1. There is a clearly defined problem or challenge
  2. There is an agreed budget (and clarity on any assumptions made)
  3. Timescales are agreed (including application process, procurement, deployment)
  4. There is significant internal buy-in (from senior management & all relevant teams)


“Having worked on a Business Challenge with a global car manufacturer, the process allowed us to gain access to a valuable global customer, giving us the platform to pitch a solution they had never considered. Having been successfully chosen as a solution provider we’ve gone on to build strong relationships and if it wasn’t for this particular challenge, our company simply wouldn’t exist”

Pete Daykin, CEO, Wordnerds


Next steps

If you are a UK tech SME interested in taking part in the UK-ASEAN Digital Business Challenge, register your interest here before the 1st of October 2020.

To learn more about the opportunity and hear from previous Business Challenge case studies, you can attend the Opportunities in Southeast Asia’s Tech Landscape remote event Thursday 10th September 10:00 – 11:00.

If you have additional questions, please contact Cameron Shaw, Innovation Manager at Sunderland Software City, at