Startup Spotlight: The Singaporean Startup Ecosystem

This post is part of our Singapore Expat Guide series, aimed at helping you navigate the vast and diverse Singaporean startup ecosystem [3 minute read]

Since the Singaporean Government first launched it’s Intelligent Nation initiative (IN2015), back in 2005, the Singaporean startup ecosystem has grown from strength to strength.

In the proceeding years, the Government has continued to double down on tech through initiatives such as the ‘Early Stage Venture Fund’ through to SPRING and the ‘Smart Nation’ program, as it strives to become a global leader in tech innovation.

Globally recognised

Whilst the Singaporean startup scene has benefitted from increased investment by local venture capitalists such as Golden Gate Ventures, who have recently announced a new USD $100m SEA startup fund, the industry has also seen a rise in funding from international VC’s.

Having already invested in several emerging success stories (TradeGecko, Carousell and Smove to name just a few), leading American VC, 500 Startups, has launched their second SEA focused fund which aims to invest USD $50m in seed level startups.

Singapore at night

Other recent milestones in the community include Alibaba’s billion-dollar investment in leading SEA e-commerce retailer, Lazada, as well as Grab’s Series H funding, led by Softbank, of USD $1.4B. A move which now values Uber’s rival at circa USD $14 billion.

A further stamp of approval for the local tech scene has been the increasing influence of Silicon Valley’s biggest names within the community. Over the past few years, the likes of Google and Facebook have both given Singapore the thumbs up by building local software engineering teams. Twitter has also built a Data Science function in Singapore, the first time the company has built such a team outside the US.

With moves such as this on the part of globally-recognized tech giants, the future is looking bright for the Singaporean startup ecosystem.

A bright future

With ongoing Government initiatives and increased investment in Southeast Asia’s start-ups, it’s no surprise that Singapore is tempting some of the top tech talent from across the world.

However, this isn’t to say the local tech community doesn’t face its own challenges. Whilst the Singaporean Government has adopted an innovation-friendly attitude towards the tech industry, there’s still work to be done in showcasing Computer Science as an attractive career choice amongst millennials.

Singapore has produced some phenomenally talented engineers, but demand will continue to outstrip supply until the tech industry fully engages and harnesses one of the most highly educated workforces in the world.

Developers working at a desk

How close is Singapore to becoming the Silicon Valley of Asia? There’s certainly potential, but the Lion City faces stiff competition from China. Singapore clearly can’t compete in terms of sheer numbers, but the infrastructure is there to compete in terms of innovation.

At Functionn, we are fortunate enough to partner with some awesome companies who are at the forefront of this innovation and looking to put their own ‘dent in the universe’. We are continually impressed by the passion, drive and commitment of leading figures in the community and look forward to sharing their thoughts over the course of the year.

Functionn are a boutique recruitment company specialising in the recruitment and relocation of elite technologists for APAC’s top leading startups.

Should you be interested in partnering with Functionn (either as a client or potential candidate) please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to talk.

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