5 reasons why Singapore makes an ideal relocation city for UK start-ups

Singapore’s government promotes economic vibrancy and encourages entrepreneurialism through reliable public infrastructure and business-friendly policies. Today, Singapore is home to a thriving community of entrepreneurs, techies, start-ups, venture capitalists, incubators and accelerators. This article explores 5 reasons why Singapore makes an attractive city to relocate to, particularly for UK start-ups.

Published 22nd March 2017

 

By Sharon Lim, Senior Manager, Corporate Secretarial Services, Hawksford Singapore

 

When it comes to choosing the city for relocation, top factors that matter to UK start-ups include ease of doing business, strong public infrastructure and policies that support innovation. These were revealed in a study spearheaded by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and YouGov that examines UK’s start-up environment through a survey among 193 UK-based tech start-ups.


These global-thinking UK start-ups also further highlighted that important contributors to their business growth include the right product-market fit and reliable public infrastructure such as pervasive connectivity.


With English as its official language and the lingua franca for business transactions, Singapore makes an entrepreneur-friendly start-up hub. The city-state’s high levels of transparency and business-friendly regulations have also made its pro-business environment attractive to global investors worldwide. In this article, we explore the 5 reasons why Singapore makes an ideal relocation city for UK start-ups:


Simple & convenient incorporation


Incorporation is made easy in Singapore with a two-step process: choosing a business entity, and registering the company itself. Company registrations are typically done in just 1-2 days, and registration is possible with just one shareholder. As shareholder(s) need not be residents in Singapore, non-residents are also welcomed. However, they are advised to engage the services of a local incorporation services provider for the process.


Easiest city to do business in


According to the World Bank’s 2016 Annual Doing Business report, Singapore has consistently outranked all other countries as the easiest investment destination to do business in for the 10th year running. The ease of doing business does not mean less regulations but rather it connotes a system of rules that enable the efficient functioning of businesses while safeguarding public interest. Resolving a commercial dispute in Singapore, for example, takes an average of 150 days, the shortest time in the world; whereas in Myanmar (ranked 167th), it might take more than three years.

Singapore’s efficiency is aided by the presence of good institutions, such as specialised courts and effective case management. Sophisticated court automation tools also mean that claims and court fees can be paid electronically.


A flourishing start-up scene


Singapore has been described by The Economist as the “world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem”. Just last year, the city leaped 7 places to 10th in US business analytics company Compass’ international report on the world’s best start-up ecosystems, beating leading financial hubs such as Paris, Toronto and Sydney. The fast-expanding JTC LaunchPad @ one-north, Singapore’s very own Silicon Valley, is also home to hundreds of start-ups, incubators and accelerators.


In addition, as part of its Smart Nation vision, Singapore has begun rallying industries, research institutes, government agencies as well as the man in the street in the co-creation of forward-looking solutions for a better city. ‘Live’ test-beds are available for these solutions to be prototyped nationwide, giving a boost to inventiveness and innovation.


A robust rule of law framework


Singapore is known for its low crime rates and law and order, making it a safe and secure place to base a start-up. At 9th place globally for its rule of law based on a study by the World Justice Project, Singapore was the only country in Asia to be in the top ten. Singapore also came first in the world for regulatory enforcement and order and security.

In addition, start-ups in the UK can feel right at home with their shift to Singapore. Though updated over the decades, the roots of Singapore’s legal system trace back to British Common Law. Start-ups will therefore be able to retain the same legal structure in Singapore, while being protected by laws similar to the UK’s.
 

An attractive tax system


One of the reasons for Singapore’s stream of foreign investments is its corporate tax rate, which is one of the lowest in the world. Compared to UK’s 20%, Singapore’s corporation tax goes up to a single-tier flat rate of 17%. Here, there is no tax on capital gains, which include gains on the sale of fixed assets, as well as foreign exchange on capital transactions. Furthermore, if a company files its returns, capital gains & share dividends paid to shareholders will not be taxed.

 

Recently, open source blogging platform Ghost announced that it will be shutting its UK operations and incorporating it in Singapore. In the words of its founder, John O’Nolan, Singapore is “one of just a couple of countries in the entire world which was able to fulfil all of our needs”.


He further noted that Singapore “is exceptionally in tune with the times” and that it has “a great many other benefits which add up to make it the 2nd most efficient economy on the planet. Not bad for a country which is, geographically, smaller than New York City”.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Sharon Lim is the Senior Manager, Corporate Secretarial Services, for Hawksford Singapore. Sharon leads a team of corporate secretarial professionals who provide corporate advisory and support to the board and management of Hawksford Singapore’s clients and ensure that they are in compliance with the regulatory requirements and maintains best practices, standards and corporate governance aspects. Sharon has over 18 years of experience as a Company Secretary and has acted as Company Secretary for several hundred Singapore-based firms including SGX-listed companies. Prior to joining Hawksford Singapore, she headed the corporate secretarial team in a multinational corporate services provider with clients across different jurisdictions. She has also worked in roles where she provided corporate and regulatory compliance services to MNCs, large domestic companies and family-owned business in various industries. Sharon is an associate member of and is certified by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA). For more information visit http://www.guidemesingapore.com

 

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