After successfully conducting research in India, Argentina, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Chile and China, the destination of Sefa Research Project 2020 will be Singapore and Malaysia: two countries that offer vast opportunities for Dutch businesses.
The Sefa Research Project consists of 16 highly motivated student consultants trained by prestigious and established consultancy companies. These students are able to provide fine-tuned advice that meets the needs of our business partners.
This is the 15th year that the Sefa Research Project exists and partnering businesses have shown great enthusiasm with the work received. Moreover, the academic and voluntary nature of the participating students, their enthusiastic and hard-working mindset, the professional training that the student consultants will receive and the cost transparency that the project has, make this project unique.
All student consultants are either in the last stage of their bachelor’s degree or are doing a research master’s degree. They have been immersed in an academic environment and have been looking at business and international trade in a scientific manner. Furthermore, the students have had classes about the most recent research on markets and about how businesses operate within them. The students will gain many insights into explorable business opportunities for Dutch companies.The project and its research are able to bring new scientific impulses to your company which could result in smart and creative ways for your business to be successful in Malaysia and Singapore.
All sixteen student consultants have voluntarily decided to participate in the Sefa Research Project, as many of them aim to make a career out of this line of work. The Sefa Research Project gives them the opportunity to put all their gained knowledge to practice. Unlike other consultancy firms, the Sefa Research Project is a non-profit organization and therefore the students are not being paid for their participation in the project. The student consultants will go above and beyond to ensure the success of your business in Singapore and Malaysia.
To become part of the Sefa Research Project, the student consultants have gone through a rigorous selection procedure. Only highly motivated bachelor or master students who have demonstrated to be hardworking, smart, enthusiastic, and talented by obtaining high marks and participating in extracurricular activities have been selected. This ensures that our team consists only of the best economics and business students.
Besides the knowledge gathered within the domain of their studies, the student consultants also receive guidance from representatives of our Board of Advisors. Additionally, the participating students received professional training from our partners such as Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte and McKinsey. This combination of an academic core with a professional outer-layer makes the Sefa Research Project unique.
The Sefa Research Project is constructed on a non-profit basis, so the project will be completely transparent about the cost structure. Since both the student consultants themselves and Sefa contribute to the project financially, the price for companies is below cost price.
Singapore, located in the middle of Southeast Asia, is widely known for its highly developed economy. As of now, Singapore has around 5.8 million inhabitants. This number is expected to grow up to 6.5 million before 2050. Singapore is a global hub for education, innovation, finance, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, technology, tourism, trade and transport. The country consistently ranks among the top performers in numerous international rankings: the ease of doing business, the world’s smartest city, the world’s safest country, the most technology-ready nation (WEF) and the city with the best investment potential (BERI). In addition, Singapore is the only country in Asia with a AAA sovereign rating. Taking all of this into consideration, it comes as no surprise that Singapore is a perfect gateway to Asia for many companies.
Singapore’s largest sector is the manufacturing sector, which contributes to 20%-25% of the country’s annual GDP. Key industry clusters in Singapore’s manufacturing sector include electronics, chemicals, biomedical sciences, logistics and transport engineering. In the third quarter of 2017, the manufacturing sector grew by 35%, with clusters like electronics and precision engineering benefiting from high demand.
Energy and Infrastructure
Singapore is crucial in Asia as it is both a primary oil trading hub in Asia as well as a pricing center. The oil industry on its own contributes to about 5% of the total GDP. In 2017, the nation’s oil exports totaled 68.1 million tons. As of 2007, about 20% of the world’s ship repair needs are met by Singapore as well, which translates to jobs for around 70,000 people. To improve the sector even more, the country is expanding the underground caverns that store petroleum products.
In Southeast Asia, Singapore has the largest biotechnology facilities. Between 2011 and 2015, the nation devoted around $16.1 billion to the sector. Several international companies have established their manufacturing bases in Singapore. Foreign firms wishing to invest in Singapore are able to take advantage of the main biotech parks present, which provide benefits such as tax breaks, infrastructure, and incentives to these firms.
Information and Communication Technologies
The information and communications technologies (ICT) sector is a key enabler for almost every industry sector, and has enhanced Singapore’s competitiveness. Singapore is a regional base for most of the world’s top infocommunication multinationals including Microsoft, Amazon and Google, as well as international technology startup companies. The ICT industry revenue saw a CAGR of 15.7% for the period 2009 to 2014, reaching $167.1 billion in 2014. Currently, there are more than 150,000 ICT professionals in Singapore. The number is expected to grow as Singapore progresses in its Smart Nation initiative, which strives to use technology in a better way to solve problems.
Tourism and medical tourism
Tourism is another important sector for the economy. In 2017, an estimated 17 million tourists visited the nation. In a bid to expand the sector, the government legalized casinos in 2005. Aside from the traditional tourism, Singapore has also established itself as a medical tourism center. Every year, approximately 200,000 people visit the country in order to receive healthcare. The government’s target is to have at least one million medical tourists and generate about $3 billion every year.
Similar to Singapore, Malaysia profits from its strategic location along the strait of Malacca. Yet, investing in Malaysia can be done for a fraction of the price compared to its neighbour. Malaysia’s population is expected to grow from 32.5 million to 45 million inhabitants before 2050. Meanwhile, Malaysia has a very strong urbanization trend and a rising and stable middle class. Malaysian citizens lead a much more affluent lifestyle compared to their peers in upper-middle income countries like Mexico, Turkey, and Brazil. This is due to a low national income tax and a low cost of living. Malaysia has gone a long way towards reducing poverty, moving the share of households living below the poverty line from more than 50% in the 1960s to less than 1% in 2015, according to the World Bank.
Electrical and Electronics
This sector is the number one contributor to the manufacturing industry in Malaysia. The E&E sector is responsible for fulfilling the insatiable need that the world has for technological equipment like mobile devices, storage devices, optoelectronics, and embedded technologies.
Life Sciences and Healthcare
Rapid economic growth, increasing prosperity, aging population and an increase in the number of chronic diseases causes a greater demand for healthcare. Medical devices, eHealth/digital health, public health, medical devices and elder care are especially interesting areas where Dutch companies can attract business.
Agriculture and Food
Malaysia has a strong economic and population growth. Therefore, there is a rising demand for sustainable, safe and healthy agricultural and other food products. For Dutch companies especially, there is an opportunity in Malaysia when it comes to ‘premium’ fruits, vegetables, dairy, agriculture input, aquaculture, seaweed farming and herbal products.
Malaysia’s energy supply is largely dependent on fossil fuels. However, there is a rising interest in alternative sources. For example, the country wants to make the palm oil sector more sustainable. There is a need for knowledge and technology for processing the aforementioned residual products, starting with the collection of biogas.
Over the past years Malaysia has constantly invested in infrastructure and it remains a priority. The water and energy distribution infrastructure requires modernization to increase the efficiency and reliability of the network. Furthermore, there is a huge demand for infrastructure of waste, recycling and for the creation of ports.
Since 2007 Sefa has conducted Research Projects in a variety of countries. Below are a number of brief case studies done in previous years. However, due to the confidentiality of multiple projects, not all previous editions are included.
Royal Boon Edam is a company that manufactures revolving doors, high security doors and speed gates. It is the world market leader in the revolving doors industry and a renowned manufacturer of high security gates. In 2004 Queen Beatrix granted them the title of ‘Royal’ for their 130th anniversary.
Boon Edam is already active in the Indian market, but their business in the Indian market is not increasing as much as they would like. They would like to know if and where the opportunities are.
What we did
In the summer of 2019, three student consultants did research in India, with the goal to identify various opportunities where Royal Boon Edam can sell their products. The students also looked at possible problems the company was facing in the Indian Market. They spoke with employees of the companies, market experts, existing buyers and construction companies.
Secrid is one of the biggest companies that are selling pocket-sized products. The very first Secrid was sold in 2009 in the Netherlands and now they are selling the products in more than 6000 stores all over the world. The products are produced in the Netherlands and make sure the quality is hig.
Secrid keeps on looking for new markets for their products. Because of the positive developments in Mexico, their interest was to move to this country.
What we did
In the summer of 2018, 4 students consultants have done the research in Mexico, with the goal to identify new selling locations, to identify the needs and wishes of the Mexican consumer and to look for some possible difficulties in the the Mexican law. To get to the results the student consultants have been visiting and ranking 70 possible selling locatons. Besides this, more than 100 consumers were interviewed for consumer research.
The rapport gives a clear overview of the potential selling locations for Secrid and helps to find new customers in Mexico. The consumer research will give Secrid insight in the needs and wises of the Mexican consumer.
Running one of the largest and busiest logistics centres in the world for many years has given the Port of Rotterdam Authority a wealth of expertise and experience in developing and managing large ports and industrial areas. The Port of Rotterdam International department (PoRint) uses this knowledge and experience and the world-renowned ‘Port of Rotterdam’ brand to help ports worldwide achieve their maximum potential.
Port of Rotterdam Authority is constantly working on expanding their international network. Because of positive developments on a political and economic level in Argentina, they were interested in the dynamics around the Port of Buenos Aires.
What we did
The 4 student consultants have done a very broad research, in which the following issues have been analyzed; the business model of the port, the stakeholders and their interest, the financial position, the status of logistics and the expectations around politics and economics. For this they have gathered data and have held numerous interviews with, among others, the authorities of the port, port experts, ministries and journalists.
The report has given a clear overview about the situation around the port of Buenos Aires and helps in the conversation about a possible collaboration.
De Heus Voeders is one of the largest independent animal nutrition producing companies in the world with over 35 factories in 9 different countries across the globe. Currently De Heus is in the top 5 largest animal feed producers in Vietnam and already has a strong regional presence: products are being exported from Vietnam to Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines and Myanmar. However, De Heus had been absent in the Indonesian animal nutrition market.
De Heus had very limited knowledge on the Indonesian animal nutrition industry and therefore requested Sefa Research Project to perform a market entry study on feed for aquaculture; an animal nutrition sub-market considered to be of high potential by De Heus.
What we did
The 4 person project team first conducted quantitative research on market size and growth of different fish species while being based in The Netherlands. Based on the outcomes, the team and De Heus decided to focus on a core group of 4 high potential species. Then the team did research on which specific locations in Indonesia were the top fish farming places, and decided to visit five of them. In Indonesia, the team conducted surveys at the different locations with important stakeholders to construct a comprehensive market analysis.
Mr. Johan van den Ban (in 2014 Business Development Manager at De Heus Vietnam, now Managing Director at De Heus Myanmar) says: “The Sefa Research Project team has strong analytical skills and the ability to outline a potential market relatively fast. The slide deck report was very professional and well- structured and has been of added value to our entry to Indonesia. Furthermore, the team showed good teamwork and communication skills”.
Faber Flags is the global market leader in the production, marketing and sales of promotional textile products, such as flags, indoor/outdoor banners, street banners, event banners and parasols. With various participations and joint ventures worldwide, Faber can be described as an internationally oriented company.
With a declining European market for outdoor promotion, Faber Flags continuously searches for opportunities outside the Netherlands to strengthen her international salesnetwork. Having an economic growth of approximately 6% over the last 5 years, and an even larger growth in the advertising sector, Vietnam could be an important new market for Faber Flags. Faber Flags asked the Sefa Research Project to find out what Vietnam offers for them.
What we did
Four members of the Sefa Research Project conducted a market research. Keeping the needs and wishes of Faber Flags in mind, they started with a month of desk research. The team began by mapping the available legislation and processing the relevant macro-economic data. In Vietnam, the team coorporated with e.g. the Dutch Consulate and several (international) business organizations in order to see whether the ideas of the team about the market fitted the actual picture. Visiting several production companies as well as multinationals, the team tried to form a complete picture of the supply and demand side of the Vietnames advertising market.
Martin Koppelaar, CEO of Faber Flags: The cooperation with Sefa went very well. The discussions during the intake, and the desk and field research were very fruitfull. Sefa did deliver and present a valuable report which will help us to take the necessary decisions regarding the entry of the Vietnames economy.
ECN is a mid-sized company involved in energy research and technology development, with a focus on renewable energies. Key activities for the company include contract research and development for external organizations, the licensing of technology and systems to industrial companies and consulting on policy issues around energy.
Developments in the area of renewable energy research (biomass energy and sugarcane) in Brazil had been of interest to ECN in the last year. ECN wanted to enter the market of sugarcane, and improve its energy potential and waste product bagasse. The assignment was to map the market for biomass research in Brazil, meet the companies and institutes behind the key projects and develop leads for our client to enter this market.
What we did
The team began by identifying three key lines of business for the client that best fit the Brazilian market. Then an analysis was made of the Brazilian market to identify companies and institutes that could be of potential interest, this was done by using a value-chain perspective. Additionally they found companies active in interesting biomass projects beyond sugarcane. The research team identified a list of high potential contacts and then departed for Brazil. In Brazil they spent three weeks in Sao Paulo state, the centre of the sugarcane industry in Brazil. The team met with sugarcane producers, industry associations, energy companies, universities, power plant operators as well as legal and regulatory experts and sought their view on the market for biomass research in Brazil.
The team was able to introduce their client’s capabilities to multiple companies and arranged follow-up working meetings between the client and four new companies and institutes in Brazil.
- 2011 – India
- 2010 – Indonesia
- 2009 – South Africa
- 2008 – Bulgaria
- 2007 – Baltic States
Derco B.V. – The Philippines (2015): “The members of the SEFA project team impressed us with their professionalism and dedication. During all phases of the project they kept us informed, and for every challenge they were able to find a solution. At the end of the project they supplied us with a high quality report of the local market, and their recommendations and findings will definitely help us to open up the Philippines market for our products. We can highly recommend SEFA’s services, and we look forward to working with a new SEFA team in the near future.”
E-Crane – Vietnam (2013): “I was truly impressed with the final outcome of this research project. All participants clearly had a good technical and commercial understanding of our E-Crane product line and this resulted in well-documented and valuable tools that were successfully used in approaching and analyzing the Vietnamese market. The final SEFA report is not the end but rather a new and exciting starting point for E-Crane’s expansion in Asia.“
MSc. Corporate Finance & Banking
MSc. Business Administration
MSc. Business Administration
MSc. Business Administration
BSc. Economics & Finance
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