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The Start-Up Ecosystem in Singapore

For Singapore, Standing Still is Never an Option

May 30th, 2016

On the 24th of May, during the Asia-Pacific Weeks in Berlin, the Embassy of Singapore presented its start-up eco system to an assembly of heads of companies, scholars and students. The presentation took place at the ESMT, the European School of Management and Technology of Berlin. The Amb. of Singapore to Germany, Amb. Jai S. Sohan introduced the subject and then let the main speakers develop it; the Deputy Director of the National Research Foundation Pauline Tay and the Director of Infocomm Investments Zach Tan.

To begin the conference, the Ambassador explained how proud he is of his country because last year the Singaporeans celebrated their 50 years of independence against all odds. Indeed, Singapore does not have any natural resources and many predicted that the state would soon be a failed one. ‘For this reason, standing still is never an option’ said the Ambassador and he explained that although Singapore has no oil, it possesses the second largest oil refineries of the world. This example shows the creativity and the ambition that characterizes the city-state. However, Singapore looks at the future and thinks of the next generations. For this reason, the state can be compared to a start-up: it has to be always more innovative and undertake new challenges. Singapore is currently morphing, ‘this is how we survive’ said Pauline Tay.

In the last years, the investments and the competitively of Singapore grew so much that it is now qualified as a ‘new Silicon Valley’, however the doctor explained that Singapore does not wish to be a Silicon Valley but believes in the future and in creating new things: to be a start-up of its own right. In fact, more than 50% of the exits of Asia in the last three years happened in Singapore. Singapore is now the place to be for start-ups and companies!

Being a place-to-be is not enough and the Singaporeans know it, indeed, after making easy to create a start-up thanks to a very favorable environment, Singapore needs to give them tools to survive. Singapore has built a very complete ecosystem that allows them do to so. Indeed, Singaporeans’ institutions focused on providing university funding for innovation and entrepreneurship to allow engineers to start their projects from young ages. Besides, they also provide GAP/POC funding (grants for research), they support start-ups with technology incubators and accelerators and also in a targeted manner. ‘People propose and Singapore designs around their ideas’, exclaimed the deputy director. To improve even more the interaction between the different start-ups, the state even created dedicated co-coworking spaces.

Singapore created a unique start-up ecosystem by making every possible effort to ensure the exit of the start-ups based in Singapore and to create a world ecosystem open to all people from around the world. In addition, the political and research institutions of the state have achieved even more because they have created a very livable and well-organized space where the entrepreneurs can have the resources and the infrastructures they need but also have a family life. They enjoy as well a ‘very supportive government, which knows when to help and when to take a step back’. According to Mrs Tay and Mr Tan, this ecosystem is not just about the money of some people or the funding but also about the environment itself.

The city-state of Singapore has obviously a lot to offer to young and determined people who want to make their mark. It has been ranked first city of the world for business in 2015 and fully intends to remain there.

News from Berlin
Julie Essertel, Berlin Global