Why You Should Invest In Singapore: The New Silicon Valley

Singapore overtook Silicon Valley as the biggest startup location in the world. Long touted as one of the best business locations on the planet, a multitude of startups from the city-state have already seen substantial success.

This includes Grab, a ride-hailing and logistics company founded in 2012 that is now one of the most used transportation services in Asia, and Paktor, a Singaporean startup that has created one of the continent’s most popular dating apps. So, if you want to involved with a growing and globally disruptive economy, Singapore could very well be where you should look to invest.

Grab cars
Singapore startup Grab – photo credit: Channel NewsAsia

Here, we’ve outlined some of the main reasons you should consider investing in the Singapore startup scene.

The ease of setting up a business

Singapore is widely seen as one of the easiest places to do business in the world, reigning as the number one country on the World Bank’s Ease of Business report for ten years between 2007 and 2016. It has one of the most bureaucracy-free regulatory frameworks in the world, and in most cases a new business can be incorporated within a day or two.

There is also significant help for startups, with the Singaporean government adopting a very innovation-friendly attitude to new businesses. For example, new startups meeting certain criteria (such as being tax resident for that assessment year in Singapore) will be exempt from any tax on the first S$100,000 of their normal chargeable income and 50% of tax on the next $200,000 normal chargeable income. There are a whole host of incubators and accelerators on the island also offering support to up-and-coming businesses, such as FocusTech Venture, who provide capital, guidance and strategic connections to startups.

Singapore’s advanced infrastructure

Another reason you should think about investing in Singapore is the country’s impressive infrastructure, which boasts great access to transportation, lack of traffic congestion and reliable electricity and water. It was also ranked number one for infrastructure out of over 200 cities worldwide in Mercer’s 2017 Quality of Living survey.

The city-state has around 217 internet service providers and over 43,000 public wifi access points, and is regarded amongst the top seven tech-ready economies in the world. The country is also a major port, with 200 shipping lines that have links to around 600 ports in 123 countries. All of this further gives your investment in a startup the best chance of succeeding.

Singapore view

The country’s pool of talent

Startups in Singapore also have access to an abundance of skilled workers, with the country enjoying the second highest proportion of high-skilled employment in the Asia Pacific region. The Human Capital Report by Mercer and the World Economic Forum found that 56.2% of Singapore’s workforce were highly skilled, which was higher than countries like New Zealand, Malaysia, and Australia.

Singapore’s education system is regarded the best in the world, according to an OECD study from 2015, and the country is home to a number of top educational institutions. This includes the National University of Singapore (NUS), which is ranked among the top 25 universities worldwide. This wealth of talent is again favourable to the fortunes of ventures in the city-state.

It’s easy to invest

There are a number of straightforward ways to invest in Singapore. One way is through Singapore’s residency programme. This not only gives you the opportunity to invest in Singapore’s businesses, but provides you with permanent Singaporeon residence in the process. The Singapore residency programme requires a SGD2.5 million (approximately $2 million) investment to either directly establish a new business entity or expand an existing business, or as an investment to an approved Global Investor Programme which funds Singapore-based companies.

The residency you will receive as part of this will provide you with a number of additional perks, such as the high quality of life the island offers. This includes: low crime rates, an excellent health care system, a tropical climate, and a lavish lifestyle, with Singapore one of the richest countries in the world. Additionally, the Singaporean passport is ranked as the joint most powerful passport in the world (alongside Japan), granting visa free access to 180 different countries in total.

Jubilee Bridge, Singapore
Jubilee Bridge, Singapore

Another easy way to invest in Singapore is to launch a startup there yourself, either by expanding your business and opening a branch in the country, or starting a new business entirely. As discussed, Singapore is one of the easiest countries in the world to set up a business, so this would represent a great way to take advantage of one of the world’s most thriving startup scenes.

Finally, you could also gain a foothold into the Singaporeon startup scene by directly investing into an existing business. Unlike other countries, there are hardly any restrictions on foreign ownership of companies, and local equity participation is not a requirement for businesses established in Singapore. There are a number of platforms that can help you find a suitable investment, including AngelList and InvestmentNetwork.sg.

With Singapore’s startup scene seeing so much success over the last few years, and its conditions conducive to more ventures triumphing in the future, investing in the city-state is a no-brainer.