This sponsored post is produced in association with IDA Singapore.
When Singapore announced its plans to become the world’s first Smart Nation last June, much of the coverage focused on the smart technologies designed to make it a cutting-edge example of connected infrastructure, work and play for those who live there.
Its Smart Nation intentions, however, are also aimed squarely at a broader tech audience, specifically startups and investors eager to reach a global market.
While just the size of San Francisco, Singapore is uniquely situated to take the title of startup hub in Southeast Asia (or ASEAN). The language of business there is English, sealing its long-standing western affiliations, while its proximity to countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines serve to provide a talented mash-up of human tech capital. It also stands as gateway to an ASEAN consumer market of more than 600 million people (with mobile penetration of 110%).
Growth is impressive. As of September, there were 42,000 startups in Singapore, employing 306,000 workers — or 9 percent of the country’s workforce. Government dedication to growing Singapore’s tech activity plays a significant role. SPRING — the government agency responsible for promoting economic development in the city-state — makes steady investment in tech, and just last month appointed two new accelerators in the medical tech industry with a combined fund of $60 million. At the same time, the National Research Foundation’s Early-Stage Venture Funding Scheme (ESVF) announced it’s pumping $39 million into co-funding startups together with selected early-stage investment firms — in addition to its initial $50 million investment.
On the private front, in 2013, venture capital invested a total of $1.71 billion in Singapore tech firms (Asian Venture Capital Journal) — up from $27.9 million in 2011.
Looking beyond these numbers, IDA Singapore (Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore) has been building towards making the Smart Nation vision a reality. Key areas of interest in Smart Nation include integrated city planning, integrated public services, tele-healthcare as well as safe and secure urban living. IDA is passionately leveraging technology to enable these benefits, whether it’s through creating SuperWi-Fi networks, installing a sensor fabric throughout Singapore to collect real-time data, or providing fiber Internet access to most households in the city-state.
A confluence of reasons
Clearly, there’s powerful momentum in building Singapore’s tech stature internationally and it shows no signs of slowing down. There are a lot of reasons behind its dramatic spurt: a more open and transparent trade and investment regime; Singapore’s reputation as safe and business-friendly with strong IP protection; its high standard of living; strong government support in the tech sector; and a diverse — and young — population (median age is 37).
The explosion of tech innovation in almost every area of public and corporate life is why VentureBeat is collaborating with IDA Singapore on “Smart Nation: Data Works.” The high-level regional event will focus on ways to harness data to better serve both business and government. Being held in Singapore, Oct 28-29. The time to work together across oceans is here.
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