Is Singapore fast becoming Asia’s Silicon Valley?
Move aside California – there’s an emerging new power in the world of tech start-ups. Government support and a thriving private sector is turning Singapore into Southeast Asia’s very own Silicon Valley.
When one thinks of a global leading technology hub, Silicon Valley will likely come to mind. Making a strong challenge to be considered alongside this world leader on the tech stage is Singapore.
Already, Singapore is quickly leading the Southeast Asia region as a hub for technology and start-ups. In 2015, tech funding rose to a total of $1.16 billion from just $80 million five years prior. During the same period, the number of funding deals increased eightfold – from 28 to over 200.
This rapid growth of the city’s tech sector is no fluke. They came about as a result of the environment that Singapore has created for tech start-ups. What the country lacks in size, it more than makes up for with technical infrastructure, investment opportunities and government support behind the broader Smart Nation initiative, launched in 2014 to incorporate more technology into every aspect of the nation’s urban life.
The hottest tech sector right now is probably e-commerce. Notable successes in 2016 include Carousell, a local mobile marketplace app that raised $47 million in funding. Best described as Snapchat meets Craigslist, Carousell has gained widespread popularity as an e-commerce platform where you can purchase anything and everything – from Ed Sheeran concert tickets to second-hand cars.
Speaking of cars, Singapore is also making leaps and bounds in the area of autonomous vehicles (a.k.a driverless cars). In August 2016, start-up nuTonomy became the first company in the world to publicly trial driverless taxis guided by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Although there’s still a long way to go before motorists can enjoy a hands-free commute, the government has already shown its support. The Port Authority of Singapore is testing out driverless trucks at its shipping terminal, while visitors to Gardens by the Bay can enjoy tours on the self-driving Auto Rider buses.
Not everything though can be left to AI. In the difficult realm of medical surgery, a human touch is often irreplaceable, but doctors might soon be aided in their efforts by advances in the field of augmented reality.
To help trainee doctors gain the necessary clinical experience, the Infocomm Media Development Authority is teaming up with special effects software giant Side Effects Asia Pacific to produce virtual reality medical training programs. With immersive 3D scenarios and real-time digital feedback, these simulations allow its medical trainees to better prepare themselves for real-life medical situations.