Singapore Announces Initiatives to Encourage Tech Startups

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SINGAPORE – Last week, Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) announced it would invest in three new measures to support technology startups: a startup accelerator, an accreditation program and a fabrication lab.

The startup accelerator program marks a strategic partnership between Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL, the investment subsidiary of IDA) and Joyful Frog Digital Incubator, a leading startup accelerator. The first accelerator program will take place from 20 March to 1 July. 

The programs will be geared towards technology startups, with the aim of boosting the role of Singapore’s technology sector. Joyful Frog currently invests S$25,000 (US$19,700) into each of its chosen startup companies through its existing accelerator program, and also provides mentoring from successful and established entrepreneurs from around the world. IIPL will be involved in selecting the candidate startups for the program and will have a small funding stake in each of the teams.

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The second measure, the accreditation program, is aimed at helping startups gain credibility and access more business opportunities in Singapore. The accreditation program will assist with software certification for emerging technologies, which will help bring those software startups to the attention of government entities and large businesses.

Lastly, the fabrication lab refers to a US$10 million IDA Labs space that will allow young people to build prototypes, test new ideas, and experiment with electronics and software. The IDA Labs will stretch over 400 square meters at the National Design Centre in the Bugis district, and will serve as a “hub” or meeting place for entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts to collaborate. Facilities at the lab will include 3D printers, open source hardware and laser cutters.

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Singapore has made a number of efforts in recent years to provide a nurturing environment for technology startups, and is trying to become the Silicon Valley of Asia. It has invested S$100 million (US$78.85 million) in local startups, as part of its S$16 billion (US$12.6 billion) budget allocated to its scientific research and development.

Funding for Singapore’s tech sector has increased 60-fold since 2011, when the city-state’s technology sector saw only $27.9 million (US$22 million) in investment. In contrast, last year, venture capitalists invested US$1.71 billion into technology firms in Singapore, exceeding the amounts invested into Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, according to the Asian Venture Capital Journal.

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