SINGAPORE’S tech startups that are keen to enter markets in India and Australia can now tap Enterprise Singapore’s (EnterpriseSG) new Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) nodes in Mumbai, Melbourne and Sydney.
With the additions, EnterpriseSG’s GIA network will now operate in 21 cities across 14 countries. The GIA node in Mumbai adds to an existing one in Bangalore.
Under the GIA programme, Singapore-based tech startups are able to ease their market entry through workshops, mentorships and connections with potential clients and partners.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat made the announcement on Tuesday (Oct 31), in his opening remarks at this year’s edition of the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology.
“These cities are among the top startup ecosystems in India and Australia,” said Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.
EnterpriseSG will work with in-market partners to fast-track tech startups’ familiarity with overseas innovation ecosystems, he said.
The agency will also connect companies with investors and business partners in areas such as fintech, supply chain technologies, healthcare and medtech, sustainability tech and artificial intelligence (AI), the minister added.
Since 2019, more than 500 Singapore-based tech startups have participated in GIA’s acceleration programmes.
In Mumbai, EnterpriseSG’s in-market partner Startup Reseau will run two cohorts per year – for up to 20 startups in total – for its 12-week accelerator programme, with a focus on fintech, supply chain technology and AI.
Meanwhile, EnterpriseSG has appointed Haymarket HQ to run 13-week long accelerator programmes in Melbourne and Sydney for up to 40 tech startups over two years.
The GIA programme, which will help to “further drive innovation and cross-border tech partnerships”, is part of Singapore’s efforts to position itself at the global level – and build a global deep-tech ecosystem, Heng said.
Many major challenges across the world all require deep research and new technologies, he added. “This is true whether we aim to achieve net-zero emissions and make an effective energy transition to tackle climate change, or deal with ageing populations across the world, or combat new viruses and bacteria that threaten human lives and livelihoods.”
A three-level ecosystem-building approach – within Singapore, regionally and globally – is therefore needed to better understand the promises and challenges of deep tech, said the minister.
On the domestic front, the Republic has committed S$25 billion to support research and development work between 2021 and 2025.
About a fifth of that is “specifically dedicated to strengthening innovation platforms and capabilities and developing entrepreneurial talent”.
In the realm of AI, for instance, a good ecosystem must empower companies to use AI for capability-building. But at the same time, guardrails are also needed “to harness the growing potential of AI safely and responsibly”, Heng said.
To that end, EnterpriseSG and the Infocomm Media Development Authority will establish a sandbox for startups and small and medium-sized enterprises to learn how to adopt generative AI in their businesses.
The sandbox, which is slated for launch in early 2024, “will focus on clear business-use cases for generative AI that are applicable across domains, including marketing, sales and customer engagements”, the minister said.
In his speech on Tuesday, Heng also announced the launch of EnterpriseSG’s Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge, which is in its fifth edition. More than S$3 million has been set aside to support the development of solutions through the challenge.
“Aiming for greater impact, this fifth edition of the challenge will have a regional scope,” he said. “Global corporates with an interest in South-east Asia will provide challenge statements and work with participants to develop and testbed solutions.”
Renald Yeo, Journalist at The Business Times