Singapore expands global market access network in continued innovation drive

SINGAPORE – More opportunities to expand abroad are appearing on the horizon for local start-ups and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as Singapore continues to encourage cross-border partnerships and grow its innovation capabilities.

Government agency Enterprise Singapore is expanding the Global Innovation Alliance network to add a new node in Moscow, Russia, which will facilitate market access for firms in both markets.

Announcing this virtually at the sixth edition of the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (Switch) on Tuesday (Nov 9), Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong noted that the network will be expanded to 25 cities over the next five years.

He said: “This will expand the breadth of opportunities that local start-ups can access as they embark on their innovation and internationalisation journey.”

Switch is held in conjunction with the Singapore Fintech Festival until Friday.

Mr Gan said that Singapore is a gateway to innovation in Asia that serves regional and global needs, and that it encourages companies from around the world to explore the region through partnerships with the country.

“We will be developing inbound programmes for foreign start-ups who are looking to enter Singapore and tap Singapore as a launchpad to access the South-east Asian region.

“We welcome these start-ups into Singapore, as they contribute to the vibrancy of the local start-up ecosystem,” he said, citing 500 Global’s Global Launch Singapore programme as one helping start-ups enter the Singapore market and expand their business across South-east Asia.

The minister also unveiled the second South-east Asia Open Innovation Challenge, which provides local enterprises with the opportunity to work with industry leaders and expand their consumer base.

It follows last year’s inaugural challenge, which received more than 300 submissions from 30 countries and resulted in six pilot projects.

“This is testament to the vibrancy and enormous potential of the start-up and innovation ecosystem in South-east Asia,” said Mr Gan.

One of the shortlisted solution providers, AImazing, worked with Hong Leong Holdings to develop a cloud-based data management platform for tenant management. It has since secured further projects with partners in Malaysia and the Philippines, Mr Gan added.

This year’s regional open innovation challenge has 11 problems posed by eight corporates, covering sectors such as sustainability, real estate, hospitality and healthcare. Up to 11 winners – one for each challenge – will stand to win up to $20,000 in grants.

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The minister said that open innovation initiatives like these are the means through which Singapore is encouraging more cross-border collaborations, in addition to market access platforms.

Under these initiatives, large corporates share problems and seek out solutions from start-ups and SMEs. Selected partners will work with the corporates to co-develop a solution, and successful solutions will later be deployed.

Such partnerships can accelerate the innovation process, Mr Gan said, pointing out how larger firms benefit from accessing global start-ups’ fresh and exciting ideas while start-ups can get partnership opportunities with leading firms, opening up new learning and commercial avenues for them.

In his speech, he also outlined how Singapore companies have continued with internationalisation plans even in the face of challenges, with some 65 tech start-ups establishing partnerships with overseas partners and expanding overseas through overseas acceleration programmes since last year.

During this period, Singapore also supported 46 joint innovation projects with partners such as China and Germany. The projects have facilitated the exchange of ideas and know-how between firms in Singapore and abroad.

Said Mr Gan: “The Singapore government will continue to support these initiatives, work with the industry to forge greater cross-border partnerships, and grow our innovation capabilities locally and globally. I welcome our businesses and partners to continue this exciting journey with us.”

During this period, Singapore also supported 46 joint innovation projects, with partners such as China and Germany, which have facilitated the exchange of ideas and know-how between firms in Singapore and abroad.

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