Lena Gaede

Promising tech startup hubs worldwide: Singapore overtaking! Insights for strengths, weaknesses and special powers

So far, we’ve taken a look at startup scenes in both Europe and the US. It’s been interesting, that’s for sure, but let’s take it to a deeper level and take a dip into a completely different culture: SINGAPORE! With several startups in Singapore that have gotten multi-million-dollar funding, Singapore’s well on its way to becoming the South East Asian Silicon Valley! Thanks to serious startup fever going around, coupled with a nation’s state-of-the-art infrastructure and booming venture-capital industry, there’s greatness to expect from the city state. So, lets discover the strengths, weaknesses and special powers of Singapore as a tech startup hub!

What are Singapore’s biggest strengths from which startups can benefit?

Tech startup hub Singapore – strength #1: governmental support

Good news for deep-tech companies: following the logic that these companies are usually heavy in R&D and take longer to go-to-market, Singapore’s government is making a concerted effort to support them. The government confirmed investing up to S$4,000,000 into deep-tech startups. Also, this year Singapore ranks number one in talent, which is an amazing feat. This can as well be accredited to Singapore’s innovative, patient and startup-supportive governmental policies.

Tech startup hub Singapore – strength #2: low barrier to entry for foreign startups

Singapore wants to position itself as a place tech entrepreneurs can call home. Recently, Singapore’s minister claimed for foreign startups to complement their local startups through the cross-fertilization of ideas, catalyzing new partnerships and creating good jobs for Singapore’s community. In order to lower barriers for foreign startups, Singapore has arranged for these to no longer have to bring S$50,000 of paid-up capital to enter the city. Also, the criteria for international startups to ‘explore’ the scene in Singapore will be broadened and the EntrePass recipients will be granted a two-year pass (currently a one-year pass).

Tech startup hub Singapore – strength #3: key point

The city state is positioned with its own industry as a trading hub for the ASEAN region. In order to prevent the brain drain, Singapore is focusing on high-tech and export. Being future-orientated like that, Singapore occupies a quite convincing position on the market, also when in comparison to other Asian cities, such as Hongkong, often perceived as a rival.

Exactly these benefits mentioned, convinced our alumnus Crayon Data to start a business in Singapore: “Crayon chose to be headquartered in Singapore because of the many advantages outlined in the article: location, government support in building out an ecosystem, talent availability, focus on analytics and big data, excellent business hub in the fastest growing part of the world.”, Suresh Shankar, CEO & Co-Founder of Crayon Data says. In his opinion, there is just one minor flaw: “It’s a great pilot market as it is a sandbox environment for testing new ideas. But its small size as a market makes it a hard place to try ideas of scale.”, which leads us to Singapore’s downsides.

 

What are the weaknesses of Singapore that could be a downside for startups?

Tech startup hub Singapore – weakness #1: high rental fee

With a high rental fee comparable to Zurich’s prices, Singapore can become an expensive affair. So be prepared for digging deep into your pockets when searching for a business location. Maybe the fact that cities like New York are even more expensive might cause a brightening of sentiment.

Tech startup hub Singapore – weakness #2: weak stock market

Singapore’s stock market can be considered expandable, since their overall market capitalization is less worth than the computer giant Apple! The Asian metropolis is increasingly experiencing the weakness of the surrounding Asian countries and its own productivity gap. The unpleasant truth: this gives foreign investors a first taste of an Asia that is going through a cooling down phase and might stop them from investing into Singapore’s startups.

What are Singapore’s special powers?

Tech startup hub Singapore – specialty #1: well public ministries connection

The Singaporean public will soon be able to chat directly with various government bodies through a Facebook Messenger chatbot. Making that move, Singapore’s government implements a program developed by San Francisco – and Singapore-based AI company KeyReply – and presents itself as future-oriented – a feature that always comes in handy for startup businesses.

Tech startup hub Singapore – specialty #2: popular business-destination

Already more than once, Singapore has been ranked as one of the most popular cities when it comes to business meetings of the global market. As for a startup located in Singapore that always has an eye on business events, the city offers quite some opportunities for networking.

You want to browse for startups in Singapore and all over the world? Then check out our Alumni section.

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