Sunrise Industries in 2018

Financial Times defines a sunrise industry as “a sector that is growing rapidly and is expected to be a mainstay of the economy in the future." In sunrise industries, there is often a high degree of innovation. Their rapid development also poses a threat to declining industry, often pushing them into obsolescence.

This March, CSIRO’s Data61 has released a study identifying the top seven emerging industries within ASEAN and neighboring nations this year. These industries are expected to fuel future growth, international collaboration, and job creation. Here are the seven sunrise industries of 2018:  

#1: Artificial intelligence and autonomous systems

What the industry is: The AI and automated systems industry is composed of companies converting manual processes into automated processes through robotics, sensory stems, machine learning, predictive analytics, and AI. These companies provide services to companies wanting to transform their current systems into autonomous systems, and these services include the design, construction, implementation, and operation of autonomous systems. Consequently, this industry will provide service to practically all other industries as automation becomes increasingly pervasive in economies all over the world.

Why it’s emerging: The emergence of this industry is heavily due to the increasing capabilities of automation and artificial intelligence to deliver benefits at lower costs.

Data61 also reports that there is a considerable business opportunity in using AI in the ASEAN financial services and telecom sectors. In the financial services sector, ASEAN firms will need to integrate AI functions such as credit scoring, dynamic pricing, and digital marketing, which have demonstrated value in other contexts but have yet to be scaled up in ASEAN. In the telecom sector, local companies can use their access to data to develop increasingly sophisticated analytic tools. Demand for AI is also likely to be high within the healthcare industry and the public sector.


The demand supporting the growth of this industry:

  • The rising popularity of robots. The Asia Pacific region is the fastest growing robotics market globally.
  • The emergence of China as the global leader in automation. China has increased its operational stock of industrial robots; the Chinese government also plans to establish an initial set of laws, regulations, ethical norms, and policy systems for AI use by 2025.
  • The quickening growth of external investment in AI. Robotics expenditure in the Asia Pacific is expected to more than double from 78 billion dollars in 2016 to 172.9 billion dollars in 2020.

#2: Financial regulatory services technology

What the industry is: Also referred to as “FinTech” and “RegTech” industries, this industry is made up of companies that provide technological innovations such as digitally enabled financial and regulatory products and services. This innovation delivers cheaper and more efficient financial and regulatory services.

Here are some examples of FinTech applications:

  • Use of distributed ledger technologies and smart contracts to automatically execute contracts between buyers and sellers when conditions are met;
  • Robo-advisors utilising algorithms to provide more accessible and affordable investment advice;
  • Cryptocurrencies operating on the blockchain


RegTech, on the other hand, uses technology to automate regulatory compliance and checking.

Why it’s emerging: This industry is growing partially because of the high number of migrant workers sending remittances to their home countries. The further development of firms in this sector is supported by the increasing mobile internet penetration, especially within the ASEAN and the broader Asia Pacific region. This industry is yet to flourish, but more comprehensive consumer protection laws and regional collaboration on mobile payment systems will definitely be instrumental in developing this business opportunity.

The demand supporting the growth of this industry:

  • The Asia Pacific region has become a hub for financial activity. In 2012, the region accounted for almost three-quarters of the world’s payment transactions.
  • The FinTech and RegTech sector can potentially reduce unnecessary business and operating costs in the banking industry, since governance, risk, and compliance costs were estimated to account for around 20% of the total operating costs for most banks in 2016.  
  • The rapid and substantial growth of FinTech investment in Asia. It is expected that the FinTech industry will have generated more than 91 billion dollars in revenue by 2020.
  • The continued growth of the RegTech industry globally. Between 2012 and 2016, RegTech startups have shown potential as they raised around 2.3 billion dollars.

#3: High-value nutrition

What the industry is: The high-value nutrition industry is made up of firms producing and distributing food products that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. These firms also commercialise scientific research which provides information on health benefits and nutritional contents of food and beverage products.

High-value nutrition industry’s products include:

  • ‘Nutraceutical’ products, such as dietary supplements
  • ‘Functional foods,’ such as energy boosting, weight loss, or diabetes management food products
  • ‘High-value’ agriculture food products, such as those which are organic or fair-trade.


Why it’s on the rise: The growth of this industry is largely driven by the recent increasing demand for healthy, traceable, and trustworthy food products. The increasing rates of chronic diseases and concerns about food safety and source is a problem for consumers, and the high-value nutrition is able to provide a solution through food products that are sustainably and ethically produced. Even with relatively expensive products, this industry relies on consumer’s perception of quality.

The demand supporting the growth of this industry:

  • The increased demand for food. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that in 2050, the global food production will need to increase by 70% to meet the demand.
  • The evolution of Asian diets. There is a rapid growth of the average daily consumption of protein in Asia. There are also studies showing an increase in consumption of milk in the region.
  • The increasing awareness and concern for health. As the cases of chronic diseases continue to swell in number, consumers are quick to respond to health-related issues. A study shows that 93% of Asia Pacific consumers are willing to pay more for foods with health attributes.  
  • The number of consumers who want more organic products is the highest in the Asia Pacific region than anywhere in the world. Consumers from the region are also more likely to consider sustainably sourced/fair-trade ingredients and social responsibility when making purchase decisions.

#4: Next generation energy storage and distribution

What the industry is: The next generation energy storage and distribution industry is made up of firms and startups producing and distributing batteries and distribution technologies such as smart grids or micro-grids, which are used for supplying power to remote areas. Data61’s report claims that this industry will be composed of a mixture of startups developing cutting-edge new battery technologies, as well as large industrial companies with resources for large-scale battery production and distribution.


Why it’s on the rise: Improvements in the affordability and capability of batteries, other technological innovations, and consumer demand for clean energy solutions are fuelling demand for companies (both big and small) in the energy storage and distribution market.

The demand supporting the growth of this industry:

  • The increased pressure for governments in the Asia Pacific to adopt renewable energy solutions. 70% of the annual 6.5 million deaths due to exposure to poor air quality occur in the Asia Pacific. Countries in the region are now taking measures to lower coal consumption and reduce PM levels, which is a measure of air quality.
  • The number of off-grid people in Asia supplied with power through solar energy and battery storage technologies is likely to increase. This is because solar systems are becoming more efficient, affordable, and sophisticated.
  • The increasing demand for batteries. As the electric vehicle is expected to continue to grow, the demand for batteries will also simultaneously rise.
  • The predicted rise of global electricity consumption and, consequently, the demand for battery production. Numbers from the past years show a continuous increase in sales of electric vehicles; if this trend continues, it is predicted that 8 million barrels of transport fuel per day will be displaced as electric vehicles will account for 33% of the light-duty vehicles on the road by 2040.

#5: Cyber-physical systems security

What the industry is: The cyber-physical systems security industry is composed of companies which provide cybersecurity for cyber-physical systemssystems which consist of both software and physical componentssuch as smart grids, autonomous cars, and drone fleets. Startups are expected to be the main driving agent in the growth of this sector.

Products and services provided by the industry include, but are not limited to:

  • Setting up and protection barriers such as firewalls, sandboxes, or intrusion prevention systems
  • Monitoring and maintaining the security of the networks and systems
  • Enhancing the underlying structures for cyber-risk awareness and regulations for compliance, governance and risk management in cybersecurity
  • Cyber insurance

Why it’s on the rise: Cyber-physical systems are becoming increasingly widespread, and their vulnerability to hacking creates opportunities for companies and firms in this industry.


The demand supporting the growth of this industry:

  • The growing importance of cyber-physical security. In this age where acts of geopolitical aggression are executed through attacks on cyber-physical systems, cyber-physical security is becoming increasingly important and necessary.
  • The growing number of networked devices. The number of networked devices continues to increase, as these devices are becoming more common and more relied upon by businesses, governments, and consumers. This is an opportunity for firms which ensure the security of Internet-connected devices and systems.  

#6: Personal health and ageing

What the industry is: The personal health and ageing industry concerned with providing older people and their families with a range of services that give them access to appropriate levels of care as they age.

Services offered by this industry include, but are not limited to:

  • Face-to-face residential or at-home caring services
  • Emergency detection and response (e.g. home sensors or activity and location trackers)
  • Care management and navigation tools
  • Online health services and tools
  • Personal care products


Why it’s on the rise: The ASEAN population is rapidly aging, and this, in turn, creates a demand for products and services related to personal health and ageing, such as personalised health and aged care, and mobile/telehealth services. There is also a significant opportunity in this industry for technology startups which can deliver supplementary services within the sector, such as apps and devices.

The demand supporting the growth of this industry:

  • The prevalent population ageing in rural regions. Trends show that young people are moving from rural to urban areas without their parents, and this results in the rapid ageing of rural populations. There is also decreased support for them as they age.
  • The continuous rise of life expectancy. Studies show that the percentage of ASEAN population aged 65 and above has been rising steeply. The average life expectancy in the region was 72.8 years, almost a ten-year difference compared to 63.5 years in 2007. This rise in life expectancies will consequently push up the demand for products catering to older people.  
  • The predicted shift toward preventive and value-based care. Hospital infrastructure in the ASEAN remains lacking despite the big demand for healthcare. While the cost of care continues to rise and the infrastructure can’t keep up with the demand, the healthcare industry is predicted to turn to preventive and value-based care.

#7: Digital infrastructure and connectivity

What the industry is: The digital infrastructure and connectivity industry is comprised of the technologies and structures necessary for ensuring widespread internet connectivity in a particular region. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Fibre-optic backbone networks
  • Copper wire networks
  • Wireless microwave links
  • Satellite services
  • Submarine cables
  • Data centres
  • Mobile towers
  • Internet of Things components (e.g. sensors and actuators)

Companies in this sector, which are likely to be larger firms with significant material resources and experience, are involved in the design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of this infrastructure.


Why it’s on the rise: While the wider Asia Pacific region has some of the world’s most digitally advanced nations, digital infrastructure is still lacking for many ASEAN members, creating opportunities for the digital infrastructure industry to respond to the growing connectivity demand.

The demand supporting the growth of this industry:

  • The growing demand for connectivity. In the last twelve months, numbers reveal that there are six new users of the internet every second in the Asia Pacific. There is also a steady growth in internet use across ASEAN countries. Moreover, the average broadband penetration in the region is also expected to rise from 33% in 2015 to 38% in 2020, along with the increase of smartphone penetration from 43% to 66% over the same period.
  • The increase in the number of internet users. Similarly, this results in the increase in the demand for data.
  • The forecasted massive growth in smart device connectivity. As the smart device connectivity in the ASEAN region is expected to grow tremendously, data consumption in the Asia Pacific is also predicted to grow by 30 to 60 percent per year between 2015 and 2020.
  • The predicted increase in government and business spending on technological goods and services. A 2017 survey of Asia Pacific business leaders shows that the growth in digital technologies is also impacting the business landscape, as more than the majority of the business leaders surveyed believe they need to shift to digital businesses for future growth. With this, it is expected that government and business spending on technological goods and services will grow by 5.7% in 2018.


These seven emerging industries are expected to fuel future growth, encourage international collaboration, and increase job creation in the region. Studies like Data61’s Sunrise Industries report aims to inform government and industries on potential future areas for growth, providing them with sufficient information and research to help decision-makers take advantage of emerging opportunities in the region.

You can read the full report here: Sunrise Industries

Keep up with the opportunities in the emerging industries today with a skilled tech talent. Let Cloud Employee help in building your offshore development team. Talk to us, learn how Cloud Employee works, or check out our Developer Pricing Guide. You can hire offshore developers with us across these technologies.

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