Singapore: the new Silicon Valley for startup talents?

16 November 2017

Singapore has overtaken Silicon Valley as the world’s top location for startups talentsi - adding on to Singapore’s long list of World Number 1 achievements. Here’s why:


Enhanced entry to Singapore


“The rising global protectionist sentiments that emerged in 2016 present us with the opportunity to position Singapore as an attractive startup location for global talent... These enhancements are part of the Government’s efforts to develop a vibrant startup landscape that is attractive to global startup talent while promoting our local startups to establish and build innovative businesses, thus creating new industry sectors and job opportunities for Singaporeans,” said Singapore’s Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Dr. Koh Poh Koon.


The EntrePass scheme, a government initiative aimed at attracting global startups has been enhanced to make it even easier for them to set up operations here.ii It seeks to ‘strengthen and add vibrancy’ to the tech startup ecosystem to position Singapore as a prime startup locationiii.


For example, the evaluation criteria like investment track records, key achievements, and networks, to name a few, have been broadened to entice potential foreign startup talent.


Another crucial enhancement is the acceptance of non-monetary contributions like market relevance and expertise, eradicating the S$50,000 (US$35,000) of paid-up capital prerequisite. EntrePass recipients would now be granted a two-year pass instead of one.



"Global entrepreneurs will complement our local founders with their skillsets and understanding of foreign market opportunities, to build stronger and fast-growing start-ups," says Mr Edwin Chow, Group Director of Spring.


Such enhancements would inevitably attract a much bigger group of proficient startup talent even from the early stages of idea incubation. It would also create more jobs for Singaporeans, encourage collaboration of ideas and establishes new partnerships.


Entrepreneurs who are interested in the EntrePass Scheme may visit for more information.


Attractive government subsidies

Entrepreneurs have long been able to tap into a range of grants and related programmes to help with early development activities. Singapore’s 2,000 over tech startups are enjoying significant government subsidies with the launch of a 13.2 billion R&D Initiative, and the merger of two tech-centered agencies into the unified GovTech. The government also started schemes that pair early-stage VC funds on a one-to-one basis.


The government also announced a record S$19 billion R&D budget as part of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan for up to 2020iv, as a commitment to strengthen the research industry here.


"It is an investment in our human talent, in the possibilities of science and what it can do to change our lives, and in our understanding of the world and human knowledge which can be applied in many areas over many, many years," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.


Extensive resources & support

In 2015, Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL) set up a start-up space called BASH, which stands for Build Amazing Start-Ups Here. BASH provides budding entrepreneurs with experienced mentors to help accelerate the start-ups, giving advice in business strategy, identifying good business channels, and optimising share-holding. The future seems bright for an increasing number of local start-ups like Jaga-Me, whom of which have benefitted tremendously from IIPL’s pre-acceleration programmev.

Early this year, the government has also launched the Startup SG brand, a launch pad to connect entrepreneurs to the global stage and a platform that encapsulates all the local support initiatives. It is the central source for all startup related support such as capability-enhancement, loans, and grants. Startup SG consists of 6 different pillars:


  • Startup SG Founder – mentorship and start-up capital grants
  • Startup SG Tech – early-stage funding to companies for the commercialization of proprietary technology
  • Startup SG Equity – scheme in which the Singapore Government co-invests in a startup alongside third party investors
  • Startup SG Accelerator – funding and non-financial support to accelerators and incubators working in strategic growth markets to build their programmes and expertise in nurturing successful startups
  • Startup SG Talent – includes schemes like Entrepass, T-UP and SME Talent Programme (STP) for Startups.
  • Startup SG Loan – Government-backed loans to help start-ups with trade financing, working capital, equipment financing, etc.


At a more hands-on level, SGInnovate was set up - a well-resourced agency aimed at bringing key people and resources together to foster deep innovation and move the needle for startups that are trying to scale globally.


Keeping in view Singapore’s stable economic climate along with high levels of safety and quality of living, it is definitely an ideal country for foreign startup talents. Additional benefits include secure intellectual property rights regime, excellent connectivity to emerging Asian markets, and low corporate tax ratesvi.


Undoubtedly, if you want to build your dream business, Singapore is the place to be.


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