June 6, 2023

How the city can compete countries in startup race: 7 recipes from Singapore

In 2022 Singapore based startups could attract 11.2 bn USD - more than Canada and South Korea

In 2022 Singapore based startups could attract 11.2 bn USD – it is comparable to the result of France (14.3 bn USD) and Germany (11.9 bn USD). And single city could even beat whole Canada (10.3 bn) and South Korea (10 bn USD).

The city already attracted 28 unicorn companies, remarkable result.

CDP analyzed what does the city-state do to promote its startup-infrastructure and to win the global race.

While large countries focus on their loyal residents, Singapore has to attract foreign start-ups and investors, it makes the city to find its own unique recipes.

First of all, internationalization – the city is promoting itself as global talent hub, university and scientific center. Singapore promotes bilingual education policy – more than 2.5 mln citizens (48.5% of total population) know English, 30% know Mandarin. Singapore scientific and educational centers also promote hi-tech, especially biotech researches.

The city has great startup infrastructure – 242 incubators and accelerators, more than 500 official investors are working in the city. The city established two agencies aimed to help business: Enterprise Singapore provides accelerator programs for early stage startups and access to wide range of financial aid and business loans. Startup SG is one stop shop for startups and investors - startup hub, helping to build capabilities, innovate, internationalize, communicate.

Everything is digital! All the services can be reached via internet – the company can open business, get all needed permits, find investors and get investment from the whole globe.

Easy access. In 2022 the city introduced digital “EntrePass” program aimed to attract new foreign startups and investors. The city even doesn’t demand companies to prove profits and salaries– the business is only to prove that it is venture-backed or owns innovative technologies. In return the city gives renewable yearly residence permit but asks the participants to host or speak on workshops and webinars.

The city does really much to help startups – StartupSG even created social network for startups and investors, allowing them to communicate, share experiences and promote their achievements.

Singapore builds healthy business climate – in the last WB Doing Business, the city took 2nd place in global race confirming that it very easy to do business there. Also the city introduced Start-Up Tax Exemption (SUTE) scheme – the startups are able to get up to 75% tax exemption from corporate taxes.

The city promotes international city brand: it advertises itself, speakers from government and innovators participate in public events and workshop, promote business infrastructure and opportunities, share there expertise and success stories.

And the most important recipe – the city has an aim and does everything possible to achieve it.

There are only two restrictions for further growth – expensive real-estate and cost of living in the city. In 2022 the city was 19% more expensive than London. The city answers these problems in the best possible way – everything is digital, and entrepreneurs don’t need to stay in the city to do business.

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