Singapore, Supporting Start-up Culture like No Other

The term ‘start-up’ does not have a set legal definition. Yet, it is thrown around regularly amongst some of the most successful businessmen and women in the game. Whilst many regard its utility as nothing more than an overused excuse for investment (mainly by new and short-lived company owners) – the rise of start-ups has no doubt changed public perception of innovation and new technology. With that said, it is becoming increasingly more fashionable to run a start-up and we think Singapore is the place to do it.

Silicon Valley is usually the first to come to mind when start-up formation is being discussed. However, Singapore’s consistent embrace of new technology, entrepreneurship and innovation make it a key competitor in this regard. Singapore’s reputation as Asia’s ‘start-up’ nation is not only well-founded, but recognised internationally as well. In fact, Singapore currently holds the number one rank in Nestpick’s Startup Cities Index. To put this in perspective, San Francisco – home of Silicon Valley, is placed third. Outside more directly related rankings; Singapore places 2nd in the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom.

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Source: Nestpick Start-up Cities Index
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Singapore’s ‘pro-business’ mind-set and start-up culture can largely be attributed to its geographic location and its politics. Although the island is both small in size and limited in natural resources, Singapore’s international trade practises are made possible by its convenient positon at the heart of Asia. Since the country heavily relies on exports to sustain itself, a large emphasis is put on the manufacturing sector. For this reason, tech innovation and start-up growth is encouraged by the Singaporean government. 

The Promises of Budget 2019

Singapore’s Minister of Finance, Heng Swee Keat, addressed the ways entrepreneurial and tech innovation will be prioritised in his Budget 2019 Speech. To start, investment into “Centres of Innovation” at universities and research facilities will continue with high precedence. Specifically, the government has reserved S$19 billion as part of their “five year Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2020 plan” (C60, Budget 2019).

Beyond the financial support the Singapore government is promising; Keat discussed the arrangements made to prepare Singaporean workers, in and outside Human Resources, for Industry 4.0.  An example of this includes the establishment of the Global Ready Talent Program (GRTP), which acts as a motivation scheme for ‘innovative thinking’ among students studying at Institutes of Higher Learning.

Diving into the GRTP

Essentially, the GRTP assigns applicants with local and overseas internships. Whilst there, they’ll receive government funded salaries and allowances if abroad. These internships are encouraged to such a high extent that even the local firms who participate in the program can secure “funding support of up to 70% of the students monthly internship stipends” (Annex C-2, Budget 2019). By promoting the employment of local and overseas internship programs, the Singapore government grooms their Gen Z population so that Singapore’s pro-business lifestyle is sustained in the long term. The skills they then acquire can be used to inspire entrepreneurial thinking in their lives and in those they manage one they’re knee-deep in experience.

‘Start-up SG’ and Singapore’s Other Helpful Programs 

The GRTP program accents Singapore’s start-up success by ensuring an influx of experienced human capital. However, supporting start-up culture has been high priority for Singapore for a while now. In fact, Enterprise Singapore launched a program called ‘Start-up SG’ two years prior to Budget 2019. Its role was to provide Singapore’s current start-ups with the resources necessary to increase longevity.

These resources range from financial support, office space and mentorship. As a result, Keat reports that there are now “220+ venture capital deals per year in Singapore” and more than “150 global venture capital funds, incubators and accelerators based in Singapore supporting start-ups in the region”  (Annex C-1, Budget 2019).

According to Keat, programs like ‘Start-Up SG’ bolster Singapore’s “vibrant start-up ecosystem”. The eco-system Singapore describes is prominent in places like San Francisco, Tel-Aviv, and South Korea – where a reputation of start-up success exists on an international level. Due to the triumphant implementation of ‘Start-up SG’ in developing Singapore’s start-up culture, Enterprise Singapore has launched two more programs; ‘Scale-up SG’ and the ‘Innovation Agents Program’ which will be introduced this year. These programs provide local firms in Singapore the advice they need to “build new capabilities and advise them on opportunities to innovate and commercialise technology” (Annex C-1, Budget 2019)

Opening a Start-up in Singapore

Despite all the programs mentioned, starting a business is not an easy task. It is even more difficult when competitors are constantly emerging out of thin air, receiving the same support you did.

Therefore, being aware of what it takes to run a business in Singapore before you make that transition is vital. If you do decide to take advantage of Singapore’s start-up culture, take a look at our company registration guide.

Juggling between a variety of tasks is a common challenge for startups– with inefficiency being the least of your worries. The true danger startups face is in burning out which can potentially stunt the growth of your company.

If you’re starting up in Singapore, you may consider outsourcing your payroll to a professional HR service provider. High in commitment but low in return, if your business outsources only one thing, it should be payroll, learn more with our article on exactly this.

Looking for further insight? You can also check out some of our other Singapore related blog posts.

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Prepare yourself for Industry 4.0 in Singapore
In Keat’s Budget 2019 speech, he outlines the importance of preparing for Industry 4.0. When forecasting the success of your start-up, consider the ways it is able to embrace new technology and tech innovation.

Take notice of Singapore’s start-up programs
Remain constantly aware of the programs that are run by Enterprise Singapore to support their start-up culture. High priority is placed in securing their reputation as no.1 start-up location, so taking advantage of the opportunities you are able to take here.

Looking to expand your startup across APAC? Consider PEO & EOR 
Using PEO or EOR services are time efficient ways to expand your business and minimize large costs. Depending on the location, hiring under a PEO arrangement can save you up to 50% of the costs related to setting up an entity. Get in touch with one of our representatives today to learn more!