Singapore is classed as a hub for leading start-ups in Asia and across the world. With extensive global connectivity, easy access to top quality talent and supporting infrastructure, Singapore is the ideal place to start a business. There is also a vast amount of opportunities for your start-up to co-innovate with government agencies and multinational corporations (MNCs) with venture activities. In this blog we are going to look at the 6 main reasons why so many tech companies are going to Singapore.
For many businesses, Singapore can almost be used a test hub and reference market for the larger Asia Pacific region. To scale up quickly in the region, Singapore’s ideal geographical location is a gateway to the high-growth markets of Southeast Asia, China, and India. As Southeast Asia and China become tech and innovation economies, start-ups can use Singapore as a platform to introduce innovative solutions to emerging markets. This is because of Southeast Asia’s growing consumer middle-class is expected to reach up to 700 million people by 2030.
As a result, a large amount of big tech unicorns are set to register offices in Singapore in the coming year, including Sea Group, Razer, Lazada and Grab.
Startup SG: Support for Start-up Businesses in Singapore
Along with government support, there are also venture capital firms, angel investing networks, private equity firms, start-up incubators and accelerator programmes to help with business growth and financial support. The Standards, Productivity, and Innovation Board Spring (SPRING) has combined other start up schemes to one program called Startup SG (www.startupsg.net/) which will help with mentorship, cash grants, financing, and loans. Startup SG was created to represent Singapore’s vibrant start-up ecosystem both locally and overseas. It highlights the shared interests of the start-up community and brings together efforts to support the ecosystem under its multiple initiatives and programmes. With Startup SG, it is now easier than ever for start-ups and ecosystem partners to discover and access available avenues of support. The funding programmes set up by Startup SG are under Equity, Tech, Founder.
Tech@SG Programme: Supporting tech companies with skill shortage
With Singapore being heavily focused on highly skilled talent, the ‘talent crunch’ has already started and is being felt across several different sectors. The ‘talent crunch’ will essentially make it harder and harder to attract and keep quality employees, even more so within the tech start up sector, which is still fairly new, growing and very competitive.
In January 2020, Singapore began the Tech@SG programme (Tech@SG website), which helps local tech companies recruit highly skilled foreign talents. One of the aims of Tech@SG is to help fast growing companies access the vital talent they need to scale their business in Singapore. The programme is administered jointly by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore. “The Tech@SG Programme provides company-level endorsement to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), reducing the risks of rejections for their Employment Pass (EP) applications to MOM.” (www.edb.gov.sg)
Companies that qualify for the programme are eligible to receive up to 10 new Employment Passes (EPs), valid for two years and pass the eligibility criteria, such as digital or technology-based products or services as part of their core business also foreign workers must also pass the eligibility criteria.
The benefits of IP Law in Singapore
Singapore has a very pro-business climate, there is a developed technological infrastructure and legal system (including IP laws), which are invaluable to a start-up. For tech start-ups, it helps to work with intellectual property (IP) lawyers to undertake a patent landscaping exercise and to then establish Freedom to Operate (FTO) by conducting thorough patent searches. Legal/IP does not only give start-ups a competitive advantage, but it also adds value to the start-up. First identify the IP or potential IP in your business and then protect them. For tech start-ups, accruing patents are important for both exclusive rights but also from a public relation perspective it convinces companies that you are an innovative technology company to be invested in. In Singapore there are specific regulations, laws, and policies that affect all businesses. As such, make sure that you comply with Singapore’s labour laws. Singapore’s IP laws are ranked one of the highest in international standards. Additionally, tech start-ups should also understand Singapore’s Electronic Transaction Act and Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.
The growth of Deep Tech in Singapore
Singapore is now the buzzing ‘deep tech’ hub of Asia and is the destination to develop your innovations. Described as the cutting-edge tech founded on scientific, engineering breakthroughs or hard to reproduce to tech, deep tech has been pointed out for its enormous potential to solve real-world problems. Defined more specifically, deep tech start-ups are those that are either commercialising patented technology or own highly defensible tech. For start-ups classified as “deep tech”, the Singapore government will provide 70% of the funding for the first round of investment.
There are also many reasons why Singapore is the go-to deep tech hub in Asia, including:
- Strong government support for deep tech
- A thriving deep tech ecosystem backed by strong IP regime
- Growing pool of deep tech talent
- Tech giants and multinational corporations in the sector
- Plenty of deep tech events
Government support with the Cost of Living
One of the largest costs in Singapore is quite literally is the cost of living and office space. Rent is high and it can be hard for a start-up to get the necessary resources, both for the company and its employees. However, the government does provide support for start-ups regarding high rent. If you are a tech start-up in Singapore coming from overseas, then make sure you do your market research, as it is always important to be aware of the cost of living and operating in Singapore. There are opportunities even in a competitive market, but it is important to understand the local landscape, especially government regulations.
If you work for a tech start up in Singapore and would like some more information and guidance on operating in Singapore, please get in contact with our specialist tech recruitment team in Singapore on