‘I am interested to learn about entrepreneurship and want to open my own company soon.
I am a startup looking for a supportive ecosystem.
I am a corporate interested to co-innovate to bring in a revolution in my industry.’
Singapore, in recent years has emerged as a country that has a pro-business climate with government and private sector resources all vying for attention. With all the needed support readily available, Singapore has indeed good energy and networking opportunities. In fact, Singapore houses more than 100 incubators and accelerators with more than 150 venture capital investors actively looking at potential investment opportunities. It has in recent years become one of the world’s leading centers and a go-to place, especially for entrepreneurs – big, small, local or international.
It is well known that Singapore has always been coming up with various innovative policies, significantly backed up by many governmental subsidies. The ease of starting businesses with a geographical advantage acts as an effective gateway to nearly 600 million people living in the Southeast Asian region. The startup ecosystem has a huge global reach. One of the biggest Fintech events in the world is hosted in Singapore that attracts more than 45,000 participants from 130 countries.
Let us explore the factors that make this country a great startup hub.
Local culture and developed infrastructure
The dynamism of the fast moving city complemented with a career-oriented local culture reflects openness to innovations that in turn has given rise to a strong startup culture. According to FDI Intelligence, the country has emerged as the top destination for AI and robotics investment in 2018, and the city’s cosmopolitan culture too reflects it. Moreover, the developed technological infrastructure evidently proves to be invaluable for a startup ecosystem. As an infrastructural support and for a way to cope up with the challenge of high rentals, the famous ‘Block 71’ - a joint venture between government, education and private industry was introduced in the country. It is now home to a large number of startups, venture capital firms and tech incubators that are helping to build a strong innovation and entrepreneurship community together. Even the legal system that includes IP laws are conducive for a startup climate.
Robust governmental support
In recent years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has identified four technology sectors that Singapore needs to build. These are cybersecurity, the Internet of Things (IoT), data science/ artificial intelligence (AI), and future communications infrastructure such as 5G mobile networks. The government has slated S$19 Bn as investment capital to build the country into a global R&D hub. Earlier in 2017, the Singapore government introduced the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) to enable more information exchange and encourage co-creation of innovation and ideas. This helped in strengthening Singapore’s connections to major innovation hubs around the world for finding partners, new businesses in countries including San Francisco, Bangkok, Beijing, Paris, and others. The government has also set up SGInnovate aimed at nurturing deep tech startups in the country. The government has also set aside S$500 Mn for expanding investments in various areas of technology too. Even the Startup Tax Exemption Scheme supports proliferation of young startups who are able to put off paying taxes until they are larger and more established.
Strong funding climate and rise of incubators
The Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr. Koh Poh Koon had launched Startup SG in 2017. Startup SG is the umbrella branding for unifying all the support schemes for startups in Singapore. Enterprise Singapore has recently appointed many Accredited Mentor Partners (AMPs) to Startup SG Founder for helping more startups to access capital grants. They provide mentorship and startup capital grant to first time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas. Recently, a versatile launchpad named Fintech Bay has been created which is dedicated to fintech platforms to provide co-working space, acceleration programmes, curated activities,educational opportunities and innovation labs in the fintech space. Similarly there are a plethora of incubators which propels support and funding to start ups in all respect fostering a better ecosystem.
In short, there are immense opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to start their journey in Singapore with a pro start up ecosystem. However, with the current talent crunch complemented with a relatively small local market size, there are some hindrances that make it a bit challenging to demonstrate the necessary scalability of the business. Yet with a fast paced growing entrepreneurial activity, Singapore has a very positive outlook when it comes to trying new things and finding innovative ways to solve different problems. It is indeed all set to bring in a vibrant startup ecosystem that will grow from strength to strength in the future.