Technopreneurs: 4 reasons to locate your regional HQ in Singapore

For many UK based tech entrepreneurs deciding where to open their second location can be a tricky decision. Silicon Valley has an enviable reputation as the "mecca of the tech world" But for most start-ups, this won’t necessarily lead to immediate success.  

For many UK based tech entrepreneurs deciding where to open their second location can be a tricky decision. Silicon Valley has an enviable reputation as the “”mecca of the tech world”” But for most start-ups, this won’t necessarily lead to immediate success.  
 
Many tech start up hubs have begun sprouting up all over the world in places like New York, London, Berlin, Beijing, Singapore – to name a few. Southeast Asia is quickly becoming one of the best places to grow a start up in today’s ecosystem.
 

1. Funding options

 
 
Singapore is attracting large numbers of Venture capitalists.  Southeast Asia’s various governments have established numerous incentives to attract investors to the area (the best of which are in Singapore).  These incentives are proactively supporting over one thousand early stage start-ups now operating in South East Asia. i
 
Big names in venture capital like Sequoia Capital, DCM, and IDG Ventures have already set up in the region. The Singapore government has launched the Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF).  This fund is an initiative under the National Framework for Innovation and Enterprise (NFIE). ESVF creates seed funds with selected venture capital firms which are used to invest in Singapore-based early-stage technology start-ups.  Under this initiative, the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore invests S$10 million on a 1:1 matching basis, to seed venture capital (VC) funds that invest in Singapore-based early stage high-tech companies. As an incentive, the VCs have the option to buy out NRF’s share of the fund within five years by returning NRF’s capital with interest. 
 
The first batch of five VC funds were: 
 
  • Bioveda Capital
  • New Asia Investments
  • Raffles Venture Partners 
  • Extream Ventures  
  • Walden International
 

2. Tech talent 

 
 
The Singapore Government is committed to working with the private sector to support and promote technopreneurship in Singapore.  This is attracting talent from all over the world to take advantage of this opportunity, including Silicon Valley expats and start-ups veterans.   
 
Singapore is becoming a hub for mobile application development on both the android and IOS platforms. Due to the large amount of government investment happening in this segment there are numerous SME businesses starting up. But there are few locally groomed Mobile Developers in the market and companies are therefore recruiting people from abroad. ii
 
Demand exists for mobility experts who can create and drive mobility architectures and strategies to enable a truly mobile workforce.  
 
There is specific demand for candidates who are well versed and experienced within the medical devices, research & development and manufacturing industries.  
 
In Southeast Asia, the weak start-ups are quickly weeded out, as it’s a small enough market that every investor knows which companies are real and which are not. Singapore is keen to attract high value talent and welcomes first-class engineers with open arms.
 
 

3. Work hard, play hard culture

 
Southeast Asia and Singapore in particular attracts expats from all over the world because of its 24/7 lifestyle.  Wi-Fi is available island wide meaning you can work 24/7; several reports have shown Singaporean start-ups work more hours than any other in the world. This ever-present work ethic helps push companies to raise their game and produce the best output possible.
 
Southeast Asia is also famous for its exceptional nightlife, and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. 
 
 

4. Low tax rates and lots of incentives 

 
A range of financial incentives are offered to investors ready to expand their businesses, covering areas from equipment and technology, to business development, R&D and intellectual property, headquarters, management, and industry development .  The BCCS Business Services team can provide you with further detailed assistance.  
 
SPRING Singapore also offers start-ups assistance in financing, capabilities and management development, technology and innovation, and access to markets.
 
Moreover, the personal income tax rate in Singapore is one-fifth of that in Silicon Valley.   
 
 

Next Steps 

 
The British Chamber of Commerce Singapore is a member of the UK business network, created by the British Chambers of Commerce and UK Trade & Investment, providing practical support for UK exporters. 
If you would like to learn more about the opportunities for your technology company in Singapore please contact Jennifer Hainsworth Business Services Manager at Jennifer@britcham.org.sg or on 65 6222 3552.  
 

 

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i Thomas Clayton is the CEO of Bubbly, a social media startup backed by Sequoia Capital, SingTel Innov8, and JAFCO.
 
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