The drive to develop innovative, creative technology has come to define the global startup landscape in the last few years. Tech enterprises founded on the latest breakthroughs in science and engineering are attracting record levels of interest and investment from all over the world. Experts assert that this surge of interest in technological innovation will only continue to grow over time, as more people and organisations become aware of technology’s potential to solve pressing real-world problems.
Tech entrepreneurs looking for a solid base of operations would do well to consider Singapore. The island city-state is fast becoming known as a premier hotspot for business and technological innovation in Asia—and with good reason. Singapore boasts a highly strategic location, a burgeoning talent pool, generous government funding, and an abundance of connections to tech conglomerates and other major players in the industry.
If you’d like to learn about the many benefits Singapore offers tech startups in more depth, you’ve come to the right place online. This article explores five of the most compelling reasons the Lion City has become Asia’s go-to hub for enterprises with a technological underpinning.
Highly Supportive Government
The Singapore government has long advanced policies and created initiatives to support tech businesses. One of the most notable of these is the entrepreneur pass Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) launched in 2020, known as Tech.Pass. This programme aims to attract entrepreneurs, business leaders, and other big players in the tech industry to work, teach or establish their own companies in Singapore. Holders of the pass will thus be contributing to the development of Singapore’s technological ecosystem while simultaneously advancing their professional interests.
Besides the above and similar programmes, research and development efforts in the country have also consistently received abundant government support. In 2017, the government announced that it planned to funnel SGD 19 billion into R&D over the next five years. This budget is significantly larger than that of the United Kingdom and comparable to the R&D budget implemented by the United States, a nation several thousand times the size of Singapore in terms of population and economic output.
Priority sectors such as engineering and advanced manufacturing have recently seen large government investments. Emerging industries like agricultural tech, fintech, and artificial intelligence (AI) have also received copious amounts of funding.
Innovation-Focused Tech Culture with Robust IP Protections
Deemed the most innovative country in Asia by the 2018 Global Innovation Index, Singapore has become the premier destination for companies exploring their innovation potential in the region. The country’s IP protection regime is one of the strongest globally, assuring entrepreneurs that their valuable inventions and properties will have adequate safeguards.
Singapore’s strength as an innovation hub lies in its flourishing tech ecosystem. Tech companies operating in the country can access the latest research from some of the world’s most renowned universities, connect with thought leaders from various industries, and draw from an immense pool of local and international talent. State-of-the-art innovation centres and collaborative spaces around the city allow startups, large corporations, and other institutions to work together on cutting-edge projects.
To drive greater innovation in the country, the Singapore government has also adopted a “sandbox” approach. Companies, universities, and innovators who wish to develop and trial new products can be assured of adequate cushions against failure, as well as a professional environment that encourages scientific and technological experimentation.
Superior Mobile and Internet Connectivity
Singapore’s mobile penetration is the highest of any nation in the world, a 2014 report from Deloitte shows. Smartphone usage is ubiquitous in the country, with nine out of ten survey respondents reporting that they had access to the devices. Furthermore, data from Euromonitor reports that Singapore and Malaysia generate about half of all e-commerce sales in Southeast Asia, despite making up only 8% of the region’s total population.
Singapore’s tech-savvy population and easy access to mobile technology allow a multitude of online business ventures to thrive in the country. Shopping platforms like Zalora, a clothing retailer run by Rocket Internet, tend to be highly successful.
Presence of MNCs and Big Tech Names
Singapore’s contemporary, cosmopolitan culture and hospitability to technological innovation have led tech giants to establish regional operations there over the years. In 2018, for example, fDI Intelligence cited Singapore as the principal destination for robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) investment. Joint venture projects between large corporations, banks, startups and even the government are common across many key sectors.
Sizeable Pool of Local Talent
In 2018, the Bloomberg Innovation Index ranked Singapore highest in the tertiary efficiency category for its consistent prioritisation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Singapore’s educational institutions are devoted to academic excellence and scientific research, producing accomplished graduates who frequently go on to do game-changing work.
These local institutions also go the extra mile to develop and support up-and-coming talent. The National University of Singapore (NUS), for example, encourages its research staff, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to establish tech startups and has provided interested parties with up to SGD $1.5 million in funding.
The above are just a few of the most salient factors and examples that showcase Singapore as an ideal headquarters and a hotbed of fruitful opportunities for any tech entrepreneur. If your business interests lie in technology, engineering, or scientific research, you’d be wise not to miss out on the bountiful opportunities the city offers.