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Singapore has aspirations to become the world’s first “smart nation” and extended a $200 million fund to U.S. startups earlier this month. The fund, managed by Infocomm Investments, the venture capital arm of the Singaporean Government’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), was previously restricted to Singaporean companies and citizens.
The country hopes the move will attract U.S. startups to Singapore to help accelerate its Smart Nation initiative and develop new, sustainable and viable solutions that will improve all aspects of Singaporean society and meet public needs.

The goal of the Smart Nation initiative is to get the entire country connected — everyone, everything, and everywhere, all the time — and to benefit from the data collected from that effort.

What’s In It For U.S. Startups?

The extension of the IDA fund to U.S. startups means such startups now have an alternative to traditional funding sources and an opportunity to base themselves in Singapore and tackle the fast growing, emerging markets of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and China.

Startups who operate in the space of the sharing economy, wearable technology, augmented reality, touch interfaces, mobile, data collection, and analytics are best positioned to qualify for funding and help deliver on the objectives of the Smart Nation campaign.

Singapore’s Tech Aspirations

Singapore has been trying to position itself as Asia’s answer to Silicon Valley. With vast reserves of venture capital available, a supportive regulatory framework, and a government that isn’t afraid to invest in tech startups, best demonstrated by the opening of Block 71 in San Francisco earlier this month, Singapore is a nation hell bent on becoming the smartest in the world.

The venture capital industry in Singapore is among the largest in the world, particularly when you consider its per capita numbers. Singapore has a population a little over 5 million with over US$1.7 billion-worth of venture capital invested in 2012/13. (Australia, by comparison, with its population of 23 million, invested only US$110 million during the same period.).

The tiny country that turns 50 this year sits seventh on WIPO’s Global Innovation Index.

Steve Glaveski is a former management consultant from Melbourne, Australia, turned entrepreneur, writer and founder of Hotdesk.com.au.

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