Singapore: Asia’s Silicon Valley?
Silicon Valley is the popular nickname granted to a large region in California which comprises of a few cities. It is actually the part of the world which is most-renowned as the center of technological innovation (i.e. silicon being what computers chips are made of). And in that regard it is especially friendly to digital startups.
Accordingly the term Silicon Valley has become lexicon itself, meaning a place where digital inventiveness is most manifest. So for instance if one were to say Singapore is the ‘Silicon Valley of Asia’, that means they are the city which leads that part of the world in technological development. Indeed if there’s one thing which most people know about Singapore, it’s that it is a high-tech country.
But there are other high-tech territories around Asia also. For instance, Japan, Hong Kong, Beijing and Seoul are just a stone throw’s away, relatively speaking, from Singapore. Then there are other cities in the mix, like Jakarta and Penang, that people sleep on. But all competition considered, Singapore remains the preferred home for digital startups. For instance, the Lion City’s talent pool is said to have already surpassed that of Silicon Valley itself. And it touts a competitive yet inspirational business enjoinment for a number of other reasons outside of highly-skilled workers.
Foremost on the list is perhaps the fact that the government itself is friendly to digital startups. And they show this appreciation by offering such entities funding and other incentives, including purchasing them outright. Additionally they enjoy low tax rates, effective intellectual-property laws and relative ease in terms of setting up shop. And considering that it is so easy to get into the field, many of them see it as the perfect place to test a product before marketing it to a broader audience.
The reason why the Singaporean government is said to be so supportive of tech-based startups is because in 2014 they launched an initiative known as Smart Nation. Basically the public is turning to digital solutions to integrate into the overall society, thus making Singapore one of the world’s undisputed leaders in terms of digitization. And the areas which the government has shown particular interest in include land transport and transitioning the Lion City into a cashless economic system.
But that being said, venture capitalists are also quite active in the Lion City. So a good business plan can expect both public and private funding. Moreover, a little-known fact is that Singapore is actually one of the world’s leading global financial centers. And relatedly, establishing a business there is perceived as an ideal gateway to international markets, especially those in the lucrative Southeast Asia.
Furthermore Singapore was a country that, at least ’til the coronavirus hit, was experiencing notable economic growth. And chances are it’s going to continue down that path once the pandemic is over. Moreover, the country is renowned for having a multicultural environment. So foreign businessmen don’t have to exert as much effort acclimating as they would in some other cities. Also, to be frank Singapore is a major tourist attraction in and of itself. And many people, especially those who are into technological development, wouldn’t mind taking up residence in one of the most-advanced cities in the world. Indeed that last reality, particularly in regards to Singapore’s ultra-modern infrastructure, may perhaps be the single most-outstanding reason why as of 2020 it is considered to be the top rival to Silicon Valley, at least in the eyes of laymen. But for businessmen in particular, as alluded to earlier, they are primarily attracted to the island due to the diversity of its talent pool.
Of course there are also negative criticisms of Singapore’s business environment. For instance, in terms of tech startups, at least one author has noted that perhaps the government is too generous in terms of funding certain entities. But overall the consensus is clear. Singapore is Asia’s equivalent to North America’s Silicon Valley. Or stated differently, it can be seen as a viable alternative to and top option besides Silicon Valley for tech startups to set up their operations. Indeed some may even argue that it is better environment for digital innovators than California itself.