How Singapore is staking its claim as Asia's 'Silicon Valley'

25 April 2014 | Author: Kirsten Morel
The Hub Singapore

Singapore has improved its chances of becoming Asia’s version of Silicon Valley following a $60 million cash injection by the National Research Foundation (NRF) into six venture capital funds that finance high tech startups in Singapore.

This capital will be matched dollar-for-dollar by selected private investors to bring the final total to $120 million for the sole purpose of stimulating technology-oriented entrepreneurship in Singapore.

Singapore has been identified as one of the top launch pads for business ventures, owing primarily to the ease of conducting business in the state. The nation’s growing entrepreneurial momentum and tech-savvy workforce makes it an ideal hub in which tech-startups can flourish.

Consistent funding 

The $60 million contributed by the NRF is the second batch of funding allocated for tech startups in Singapore. In 2008, the NRF created the Technology Incubation Scheme for the common purpose of uplifting tech startups, and has since funded 14 incubators and more than 100 tech startups to date with $50 million.

“With the Government co-investing 85% of the capital up to $500,000, it is no wonder that Singapore is touted as Asia’s Silicon Valley,” said Mr. James Nuben, Head of Taxation at AsiaBiz Services.

Apart from the Technology Incubation Scheme, Spring Singapore has also offered co-funding opportunities to local tech startups called the Spring Seeds Capital (SSC), which has invested over $75 million in 210 startup companies, and garnered private investments for startups at over $150 million since 2001.

These funding schemes have made Singapore extremely popular among tech entrepreneurs from around Asia, enabling them to kick start their tech startups.

A strong ecosystem

Singapore has also created a number of hives of entrepreneurial tech activity. BLK71 in Ayer Rajah Crescent and The Hub in Somerset are some of the sites selected by the Government to accommodate numerous startup companies. For instance, BLK71 is home to more than 100 startup companies that includes 3D-printing startups, software startups, and electric mobility startups, and is now being expanded into JTC LaunchPad@One-North.

The close proximity that tech entrepreneurs share with one another has become a defining characteristic in their dynamic exchange of ideas and mentorship. The cross-pollination and diversity in these sites have enabled these entrepreneurs to fuel their innovation and productivity rapidly.

Attracting top tech companies

As well as startups, juggernauts of the tech industry such as YouTube, Yahoo, MSN, LinkedIn and Facebook have founded offices in Singapore and this has led to an upsurge in the tech-entrepreneurial climate of Singapore. It has also led to talent from Silicon Valley finding its way to the island nation to mentor tech startups.

The arrival of large tech companies in Singapore has also ushered in investor confidence in Singaporean startups and a steady stream of venture capital has followed. One such venture capital and incubator fund is the Golden Gate Ventures (GGV). GGV has migrated from Silicon Valley to establish a US$10 million incubator fund in Singapore, with the objective of fostering collaboration between Silicon Valley and Asia.

Viki is one local tech company that has benefitted from this influx of capital. It is an online video streaming site that was registered and incorporated by students of Stanford and Harvard Universities in Singapore due to its closeness to the target affluent Asian market and accessibility to an engineering-skilled workforce. In 2013, Viki was among the 20 local startup companies that was acquired by Japanese eCommerce company, Rakuten, for $200 million.

For more details on setting up your business in Singapore email James Nuben or call on +65 63034622. 

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