From Tech for Growth to Tech for Good

What should the next phase of Southeast Asia’s growth look like? Launched at Asia Tech x Singapore 2023, this report highlights the challenges and opportunities for collaborative action to drive inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth across the region.

Digital technologies and the business models they enable will drive Southeast Asia’s growth in and through the digital economy.  This potential lies in the region’s mobile-first population’s adoption of digital tools, the integration of the digital and non-digital economies through online-to-offline (O2O) platforms, and increasing innovation and startup activity.  As technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives, however, the creation of economic value must also serve the broader objective of fostering quality growth for a sustainable, inclusive and equitable transformation of both the economy and society.

This Special Report, commissioned by Asia Tech X Singapore, seeks to articulate the desired outcomes of sustainable digital development and to identify the key enablers that would shape the next phase of growth for Southeast Asia. Over 130 policymakers, investors, digital economy companies, institutions and academics in the field contributed to this Special Report through a series of in-person roundtables in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, held between February to March 2023.

This Special Report was prepared by the Tech for Good Institute, and made possible with the generous support from Asia Tech X Singapore. 

While strategies and implementation plans reflect the diverse economies and societies of SEA-6, two common objectives emerge: advancing the digitalisation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), key sectors, government and public services.

Common priorities to achieve these two objectives include:

  1. developing digital infrastructure
  2. building digital literacy
  3. developing digital talent
  4. fostering trust in the digital ecosystem
  5. encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship
  6. strengthening regional cooperation

DECs can contribute to SEA-6’s development by striving for:

  • Responsibility, ensuring that no harm is done;
  • Supportive outcomes, when harms are mitigated;
  • Facilitative outcomes, in which benefits are optimised through efficiency; and
  • Transformative outcomes, requiring radical new approaches to address local, national or global challenges previously deemed intractable.

While transformative outcomes may dominate headlines, responsible, supportive and facilitative outcomes are all needed for “Tech for Good” to serve society.


Stakeholders across the public, private and civil sectors in the region are keen to build on the progress made in the digital economy thus far. The growth of the digital economy must lead to sustainable digital development, empowering a confident digital society that leverages innovation to foster inclusive and equitable progress.

While existing priorities for digital transformation remain, outcomes are broadened:

  • Affordable quality access
  • Meaningful and productive participation in the digital economy
  • Sustainable and adaptive livelihoods through the digital economy
  • Governance of emerging technologies
  • Impactful investment and innovation
  • A coordinated and responsive regulatory environment, nationally and regionally

Citizens and consumers deserve a commitment from the public, private and civil sectors to shared outcomes, new processes and perspectives, and a more collaborative and holistic approach to enable innovation within a confident digital society. These goals need cooperation towards shared outcomes, coordination with clear communication to prevent knowledge or operational silos, and co-creation to ensure inclusion of diverse or underrepresented interests so that the needs and rights of all parties are respected. Not only will this foster a conducive environment for technology and business innovation, but also develop the craft of policy-making and governance for the digital age.

Key Partners:

This is a Special Report produced by the Tech for Good Institute for Asia Tech x SG (ATxSG).

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Dr Ming Tan

Founding Executive Director

Dr Ming Tan is founding Executive Director for the Tech for Good Institute. She is concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore. Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology, business and society, including sustainability and innovation.


Ming was previously Managing Director of IPOS International, part of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, which supports Singapore’s future growth as a global innovation hub for intellectual property creation, commercialisation and management.


Prior to joining the public sector, she was Head of Stewardship of the COMO Group, a Singaporean portfolio of lifestyle companies operating in 14 countries worldwide. Her portfolio covered sustainability, brand and data privacy. She was concurrently the founding Executive Director of COMO Foundation, the private philanthropy of the owner of the COMO Group.


As a company director, she lends brand and strategic guidance to SuperNature Pte Ltd, COMO Hotels and Resorts (Asia) Pte Ltd, COMO Club Pte Ltd, and Mogems Pte Ltd. In the not-for-profit space, Ming is an Advisor to Singapore Totalisator Board and serves on the boards of Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre, St. Joseph’s Institution International and COMO Foundation.


As part of her commitment to holistic education and the arts, she also sits on the Advisory Panel of the Centre for the Arts of the National University of Singapore.


Ming was educated in Singapore, the United States, and England. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and her doctorate from Oxford.