With entrepreneurs leading the way, Asian cities are rapidly becoming the world's seedbed for transformational technology and collective solutions. Of the 35 largest cities in the world, 21 are in Asia with an average population of over 20 million (Paris is 12m) and a combined population of 440 million. By 2030, 221 cities in China alone will have more than one million residents. This massive scale has positioned Asia on the front lines for solving many of our most confounding collective action problems.
Traffic in Jakarta is constantly at a standstill. GO-JEK, think Uber+Amazon on a motorcycle, is the new distribution platform and network in Jakarta. With your GO-JEK app, in a matter of seconds, you can ask to have a motorcycle deliver you anything - products or people - from groceries, to tickets, to hair stylists (go-glam) to a masseuse (go-massage).
Food sourcing and safety in Chinese cities is such a deep concern that those who can afford to, pay many times above local market price for imported fresh produce, just to have the peace of mind to know where the food came from and what was used to grow it. In response, WeChat, the largest social media platform in China (500m+) is launching a service that allows users to buy produce straight from farmers, drastically reducing transaction costs in the value chain and re-establishing transparency and accountability in the system.
Elon Musk and Tesla may have captured our imaginations, but how many of the world will be able to afford the $70,000 for a Model S or even $35,000 for a Model 3? To shift the world off carbon engines, we need a much more practical solution, and fast. Xindayang - a Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer is producing an electric car for $10,000. It may not be as sexy as a Tesla, but it will open the EV market to hundreds of millions of drivers and accelerate the shift in infrastructure needed for electric vehicles to go mainstream.
Disruptive solutions emerging from Asia are solving information and coordination failures across a range markets, promising to create massive economic and social value in the process. What is the innovation potential of Asian megacities? It's still early days, but, like riding a motorcycle through the streets of Jakarta, it promises to be an exhilarating ride.