Singapore recently ranked highest as the leading technology hub of the future according to multi-national professional services network KPMG. Their annual Technology Innovation Hub Report asks industry insiders where the world’s rising tech hubs are and why. In their latest 2020 report, 7 out of the top 10 chosen tech hubs were in Asian destinations, with Singapore technology ranking highest. The Singapore tech scene is certainly a vibrant one and, with governmental support, is set to thrive.
Why is Singapore a technology hub?
Singapore topped the tech hub rank from seventh place the previous year. Its rise to global recognition came with praises for its strong government support, advanced IT infrastructure, local talent, and IP protection laws. On top of that, the country has successfully diversified its economy, thus attracting successful tech start-ups, with companies using the country as a base to manage their local and global operations. The tech scene also boasts a fully supported eco-system, offering both venture capital and traditional funding opportunities, smart offices, and great conferencing and networking events.
Singapore Government's Technology Initiatives & Policies
Singapore technology policy is highly conducive for tech growth. The country lies at the crossroads of Asia’s biggest markets, has a well-developed IT infrastructure, solid investment opportunities, favourable regulations, and low corporate taxes. For start-ups and those looking to expand into Asia, Singapore makes it easy to access funding via the traditional banking system, venture capitalism, angel investors, and even government sponsorship.
Restructured in 2016, the Government Technology Agency, commonly known as Govtech Singapore is dedicated to empowering the nation through technology. The scope of the agency is broad; ranging from technology to inspire its citizens, businesses, and government agencies. Some of government’s major initiatives are:
1.The Smart Nation Program
Since 2014, the Singapore government has sponsored the Smart Nation program which aims to make technology friendly. The free online channel allows anyone to log on and learn the basics of coding, video conferencing, and all the latest digital trends. All sessions are hosted by tech professionals. During the Smart Nation Innovations Week, held in June 2019, the Minister for Communications and Information announced a S$40 million (US$29.3 million) investment to support 5G research and innovation. Combining heavy investment in tech with its business-friendly policies, Singapore is poised for major success.
2.The National Artificial Intelligence Strategy
Announced in 2019, the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy is a key step in Singapore’s ‘Smart Nation’ journey. It outlines the government's plans to deepen the use of AI technologies to transform the economy. Going far beyond merely adopting technology, there is a major focus on AI with the aim of enriching the nation's productivity and creating new areas of growth. With Singapore government innovation at the forefront, the strategy requires the input of the whole nation, from Singaporean citizens, local businesses, researchers, the government, and international partners all working together towards to agreed aim of advancing tech in Singapore.
Big Companies that Call Singapore Their Home
Tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Stripe, Salesforce, and Grab all have headquarters or regional operations in Singapore. These range from engineering to research and development, all located within the region. The United States-China trade war also prompted Chinese companies such as Tencent and ByteDance to move to Singapore. Consultancy firm PWC lists 4000 tech-enabled start-ups currently in Singapore. Singapore based tech companies are certainly on the rise with starts up such as Sea (e-commerce, fintech, gaming), TenX (cryptocurrency tech), and Thessa Therapeutics (biotech) all choosing Singapore to launch from.
In 2020 UNESCO collected data showing the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates in various countries. Singapore ranked third, with 34.9% of world STEM graduates (Source: UNESCO Institute of Statistics). A diverse Singapore technology hub will help to increase resources and early funding opportunities but it also means that start-ups may need to compete for local talent.
The Country's Supportive Digital Infrastructure
Singapore technology infrastructure makes business flow smoothly. Lightning-fast broadband speeds with city-wide wi-fi and widespread 4G coverage allow businesses to stay connected. Governmental investment in the early uptake of 5G also reflects on Singapore's image as a global tech-hub.
Is Singapore the next Silicon Valley?
Singapore tech innovation is booming under the aforementioned government initiatives. The mandates to bring in top-tier tech companies to set up shop in Singapore are now bearing fruit. A primarily English-speaking country, Singapore has a high level of STEM graduates and already successful multi-national companies in operation. The Singaporean government continues to support tech initiatives, and, with a swift digital infrastructure and robust networking community, what better place to launch or expand a tech empire!