Singapore has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a small fishing village to a regional powerhouse in Asia. More recently, the island city-state is in the global spotlight as an up-and-coming hub for tech startups.
Here are the top 11 reasons why Singapore might be the next Silicon Valley.
11. A stable political climate and legal system.
The Singapore government’s pragmatic policies and low tolerance for corruption have created a stable environment for businesses. In the annual Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Singapore has consistently ranked among the top 10 and is deemed the least corrupt country in Asia.
10. Robust financial and technical infrastructure.
Robust infrastructure is fundamental to a functioning business ecosystem. Reputed for its high-speed internet connectivity, sophisticated transport and port systems, and strong financial fundamentals, Singapore’s infrastructure is top-notch, ranking fourth in terms of overall quality of infrastructure according to the Global Competitive Report 2015-2016.
9. Ease of doing business.
According to the latest Doing Business 2017 report by the World Bank, Singapore ranked second among 190 economies in the overall ease of doing business, a testament to the hassle-free process in starting up and managing a business.
8. A world-class workforce that is highly educated and skilled.
Like Silicon Valley, Singapore has no lack of bright minds. As of 2016, more than half of Singapore’s resident labour force consists of diploma and degree holders. The Singapore workforce has regularly topped the Business Environment Risk Intelligence (BERI) Labour Force Evaluation Measure reports, which evaluates among other attributes, the relative productivity, attitude and technical skills of a country’s workforce.
7. A tech-savvy population that drives demand for new products and services.
Based on Google’s “Consumer Barometer” research in 2014, Singapore topped the global charts in terms of smartphone usage. Tech-savvy Singaporeans are driving innovation through their demand for novelty and more are making the leap to become innovators with their own startups.
6. Multinational corporations that partner with promising tech startups.
Singapore is no stranger to global brands. Multinational corporations (MNCs) like Bosch, Unilever and Sony, have made Singapore their Asia-Pacific headquarters. These MNCs offer a myriad of business partnership opportunities to local tech startups.
5. Generous government support for budding entrepreneurs.
The Singapore government has dedicated enterprise development agencies which dish out incentives and grants to budding entrepreneurs. Cash grants, co-investment schemes and other financing schemes are just some examples of the various government incentives that are available for startups.
4. Growing interest from venture capitalists.
Singapore startups readily secure funding from global venture firms. Between 2012 and 2013, venture funding shot up by more than fourfold from US$181 million to US$787 million. The uptick in venture funding has continued, with startups like RedMart (US$26.7 million, 2015), Carousell (US$35 million, 2016), Nugit (US$5.2 million, 2016) and ViSenze (US$10.5 million, 2016).
3. A local startup culture that thrives on collaboration.
Collaboration runs contrary to the “kiasu” (literally “afraid to lose”) mentality of Singaporeans. Yet, in “Block 71”, an industrial building that is home to several Singapore startups, a different ethos seems to apply. Dubbed by the Economist as “the world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem”, “Block 71” has fostered a unique startup culture that thrives on the sharing and cross-fertilization of ideas among budding entrepreneurs.
2. More Singaporeans embracing “the road less travelled.”
Elizabeth Charnock of Bloomberg says that a hard-nosed pragmatism towards failure has made Silicon Valley the success it is today. According to her, the Silicon Valley mantra is “fail fast” while that of the rest of the world is “don’t fail”. Similar to the Valley entrepreneurs, Singaporeans are now more open-minded when it comes to taking risks, learning from failures and even embracing “the road less travelled” with their own startups.
1. Recognition of Singaporean entrepreneurs.
Local success stories inspire future generations to try, innovate, and eventually succeed. In fact, it is said that Silicon Valley’s current success is built upon the inspirational stories of its past entrepreneurs. Singapore makes concerted efforts to celebrate and honour the achievements of local entrepreneurs. These include annual entrepreneurship awards, active publicity of past success stories in schools, as well as opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to meet and interact with successful mentors.
As Asia’s Little Red Dot, Singapore has always been a shining beacon of economic transformation against all odds. Fast forward to 2017, the island city-state is set to reinvent itself again, this time as a tech and innovation hub in its own unique way.