Turning Passion Into Progress
Singapore fuels the future by enabling the world's passion for innovation.
Building on a Strong Foundation
Singapore is renowned among international business leaders and decision makers for its model economy built on sound laws and business-friendly policies. Multinational companies have for decades chosen Singapore as their regional base, investing heavily in manufacturing facilities, R&D labs, innovation hubs and talent centers. In the process, Singapore has become one of the world’s most innovative countries, driven by a passion for progress and an insatiable entrepreneurial spirit.
As an economic powerhouse, Singapore has built a global reputation for dynamism; always looking forward and never standing still. That philosophical foundation has underpinned an economy that continues to surpass expectations. Full-year GDP growth in 2017 was 3.5 percent, more than double initial government forecasts, and the best performance in three years. That kind of achievement is built on having a vision for the future and the drive to make it real. In a word, it’s built on Passion.
More than 50 years after its independence, Singapore's passion for growth and innovation has not slowed. The country excels at spotting the trends that will shape the future, finding the companies with the talent and passion to lead those trends, then partnering them as they build the next global wave of innovative products and services.
These strategic moves have earned Singapore many prestigious accolades. Among them, as the second-ranked Asian nation on the Bloomberg 2018 Innovation Index and the third-most competitive economy in the world, according to a 2017 study conducted by IMD.
Foresight and Future Investments
Tomorrow's economic growth depends on supporting today’s innovators, and Singapore is continuously looking at ways to fuel the future.
In 2016, the government allocated S$19 billion (US$14.4 billion) in funding to support the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan (RIE2020), a five-year blueprint to propel growth engines such as advanced manufacturing, health and biomedical sciences, the services sector, the digital economy, urban solutions and sustainability.
Spurring Partnerships and Possibilities
"A strategic goal of RIE2020 is to strengthen linkages between public research performers and private enterprises to create greater value from our investments in R&D."
Minister for Trade and Industry
In addition to RIE2020, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and local private-equity firm Makara Capital created the joint S$1 billion (US$718 million) Makara Innovation Fund, which plans to invest S$30 to S$150 million in each of 10 to 15 companies that have developed globally competitive technologies.
Singapore creates the ideal playing field for partnerships—public-private and between private companies—that fund expertise, turn ideas into reality and make transformational improvements to the global economy.
In 2015, for example, tech giant Intel partnered with Singapore-based startup ConnectedLife to develop a smart home sensor system that was able to remotely monitor elderly people in their homes. And when Procter & Gamble set up its innovation center in Singapore, it turned to Singapore-based manufacturer GWIA to source materials and build small batches of its R&D products for testing.
Singapore’s openness to innovation has propelled home-grown companies like Sea and Grab to international success. Founded in 2009 as online gaming company Garena, Sea now operates the Shopee online marketplace and AirPay payments network. Last year, Sea began trading on the New York Stock Exchange following an $884 million IPO, making it Southeast Asia's most valuable startup.
Grab was started by a few friends sitting around drinking tea. Only into its sixth year of operation, Grab has already become the leading ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia and is poised to expand into logistics and payments, a symbol of the drive and passion of Singapore’s entrepreneurial culture.
– “Innovation is at the very heart of what we do at Sea. In becoming a public company with greater responsibilities, we are now even more determined to better the lives of consumers and small businesses in Greater Southeast Asia with technology, through attracting the smartest minds, and challenging them to deliver solutions tailored to the unique needs of our region.” – Nick Nash, Group CEO, Sea
Meet the Progressors
Emerson Expands in Singapore
U.S. technology and engineering giant Emerson chose Singapore as its regional headquarters because of its first-rate logistics capabilities and because Singapore is “unlike anywhere else in the world” when it comes to engaging new technology and innovation.
Emerson began in Singapore in the year 1965 and has since progressed in tandem with Singapore and the Asia Pacific region. In November 2017, Emerson opened a customer-focused Solutions Center in Singapore, as part of its drive to make Singapore a hub for Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and services.
Emerson also established a collaborative project with Singapore Polytechnic to advance training for the digital workforce of the future, recognizing that Singapore provides the perfect complement to the company’s passion for innovation and its leading position in high-value manufacturing.
“Singapore is a country that has a tremendous business climate in terms of engaging to bring new technology and innovation, working closely with the universities. It's a partnership that we truly find unlike anywhere else in the world."
President, Asia Pacific
Emerson Automation Solutions
Founded in 1890, and headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), Emerson has grown and evolved into a Fortune 500 company that is one of the largest technology and engineering providers in the world. Emerson’s innovative solutions help customers achieve top quartile business performance in industrial, commercial, and residential markets.
The government has allocated S$4 billion (US$3 billion) in health and biomedical science investment, building on previous initiatives such as the Biopolis research and development center, with the aim of developing an ecosystem that better enables the translation of research into improved healthcare results.
Funds Allocated to Health and Biomedical Sciences under RIE2020 Plan
Projected Global Biopharma R&D Spending in 2018
With Asia being the world’s fastest-growing healthcare market, the incremental benefit brought by a boost in global R&D spending—projected at US$161 billion for 2018—will be the most in this region. Singapore is perfectly placed to cement its position as a regional and global healthcare hub.
Worldwide, online travel bookings are forecast to grow almost 11 percent a year over the next five years, and Euromonitor International sees Asia Pacific as the fastest-growing market2 for the travel intermediary business, with more than half the world’s millennials2 living in the region. This has persuaded companies like Expedia to establish and grow their presence in Asia Pacific.
Expedia Group, with investments around US$1 billion a year in technology,2 has invested heavily in talent and technology in Asia, and it has opened the company's first Asia-based 'Expedia Innovation Lab' in Singapore in 2017. It leverages Singapore's strategic location and first-rate connectivity across a range of local, regional and international areas of business focus. Singapore is the Asia-Pacific base for the iconic Expedia brand/business.
“Singapore has a decisively pro-enterprise and creative mindset. The way that they leverage technology to build customer value is quite incredible. For us, customer means traveler, and that unique approach of putting travelers first as Singapore does really marries well with our own philosophy.”
Expedia Group (NASDAQ: EXPE) is one of the world’s largest travel platforms, operating through more than 200 travel booking sites and more than 150 mobile sites worldwide. In 2017, more than $88 billion worth of bookings were made through Expedia.
From Finance to Fintech Hub
Singapore is one of the world’s top four financial centers alongside London, New York and Hong Kong. With at least 200 banks operating from the island nation, Singapore is positioned to partner the next generation of fintech pioneers.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has allocated S$225 million (US$165 million) to fintech development over the next five years, with the aim of creating a pervasive culture of innovation and cementing the country’s status as an Asian leader in the sector. This initiative meshes with Singapore’s broader Smart Nation agenda of using technology to support higher quality of life, increase productivity and create jobs.
Funds Set Aside by the MAS for Fintech Development
Some of Singapore’s financial initiatives have been high-profile, such as linking fund-transfer systems with Thailand, building a cross-border trade platform with Hong Kong and fostering collaboration between Singapore’s banking giants to create a blockchain-based interbank transfer system independent of the central monetary authority.
Some of the most promising technologies are not the most publicized or most disruptive. Singapore gives equal support to home-grown innovators like M-DAQ, whose proprietary technology minimizes FX risk by enabling international traders to see asset prices in their own currencies. Incorporated in 2010, M-DAQ grew from this single, simple idea. Its founders, whose drive and passion helped them endure a challenging no-pay period, reached a pivotal breakthrough in late 2015 when Ant Financial Services Group decided to back their startup. M-DAQ is planning for an initial public offering, slated to take place by 2020.
“Our passion is to try to create something from our base in Singapore that can make this world a better place using our know-how from the foreign-exchange field."
Founder and CEO
“One of the advantages of doing business here is regulators and the government and the people really have an international mindset. They are not just limited to Singapore when they do something. This mindset makes it easier for us to do our global FX business out of Singapore."
M-DAQ created a platform that converts single/dual-currency securities exchanges into seamless multi-currency securities exchanges by blending executable interbank foreign exchange rates into equities and exchange-traded instruments. It describes its mission to create a "World without Currency Borders®."