Singapore – a hotspot for foreign entrepreneurs
From the availability of talent, the support of the government and its location, Singapore has become an attractive location for entrepreneurs in search of innovation to develop their businesses. Here, some entrepreneurs tell us why they’ve made Singapore their choice.
As a fresh graduate in 1999, Rina Neoh had two choices – to stay on in the UK or to return to Asia to start a career.
Recalling how Singapore was “the obvious choice” when she decided on the latter, Penang-born Neoh said it was a decision she has never regretted, particularly when she decided to start her own venture capital firm Mercatus Capital in Singapore in 2006.
Back in the day when the phrase “start-up culture” was still unheard of, Neoh and her partners were already building up Mercatus Capital as a private investment firm that provides seed capital to emerging start-ups around Asia. They were confident that Singapore would serve as a good base and the ease of doing business here was a significant plus.
She explained: “Back then, the government was already very supportive in term of grants and innovations. The transparency and the efficiency of the financial structure made it easier for investors, both local and foreign.”
With the government recently introducing a slew of initiatives for foreign entrepreneurs in August 2017, these business-friendly principles have clearly endured. For example, the EntrePass scheme, a work visa for foreign entrepreneurs keen to locate their businesses in Singapore, has just been enhanced to make it even easier for them to do so.
That, together with an eagerness to embrace technology and capitalise on Singapore’s strategic location, is why Ayesha Khanna sees the Republic as well-positioned to ride the next wave of digital transformation today.
The CEO of artificial intelligence advisory and incubator ADDO AI, which is headquartered in Singapore, observed growing consumer appetite for digital solutions in products and services, offering significant opportunity for Singapore-based companies to emerge as regional leaders. For ADDO AI, this emerging demand has seen it help entities – from businesses to government agencies – build data-driven platforms that can radically improve their services.
She said: “This data-driven innovation is not going away in the next five to 10 years. There’s a big gap that we are well-positioned to fill because of our connectivity to businesses."
“Because we’re headquartered in Singapore, and Singapore itself symbolises this data-driven form of governance, we have a good reputation and that really helps us as entrepreneurs to go out and win over businesses all over Asia.”