Credit: Mathias Krumbholz ( CC BY-SA 3.0 (

Credit: Mathias Krumbholz ( CC BY-SA 3.0 (

Singapore’s Global Innovation Alliance network expands to Bangkok

Singapore’s Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Trade and Industry & National Development, Dr Koh Poh Koon, officially launched the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) Bangkok in Thailand on 27 April.

GIA Bangkok aims to strengthen innovation linkages between Singapore and Bangkok and serve as an entry point for Singapore entities to connect with the local innovation and business community.

The GIA was a key recommendation in the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) 2016 report. It was launched in 2017 to strengthen Singapore’s connections to major innovation hubs around the world. Singpore's Economic Development Board (EDB) has set up the GIA Programme Office to coordinate the overall initiative and work closely with Enterprise Singapore.

With this launch, Bangkok will be an active node of the GIA network across cities including Beijing, Jakarta and San Francisco. Through partnerships with players from the tech ecosystem including tech companies, accelerators, co-working spaces, Venture Capital (VC) funds and the local government, GIA Bangkok, led by Enterprise Singapore, will:

  1. Make it easier for Singapore startups to access the market for business opportunities
  2. Drive partnerships between Singapore and Thai startups to co-create innovative solutions
  3. Build a pipeline of talent for entrepreneurship and innovation by enabling Singapore startups and students to understand and experience Thailand’s tech landscape through internships and programmes.

Thailand is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia. It has a high mobile and internet penetration, and a digitally-savvy population active on social media. According to TechSauce, funding for startups in Thailand increased from S$2.75 million in 2012 to S$360 million by 2017. The number of VCs and corporations investing into startups also increased to over 90 in 2017 from 74 in 2016. The Thai government has also been increasingly supportive of tech startups. The Thai government agency responsible for driving digitalisation efforts in Thailand, the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA), provides financial support for startups and investors, tax exemptions for co-working spaces and VCs, as well as launch special visas to make it easier for startups to hire foreign talent.

In August 2017, Enterprise Singapore signed two MOUs with C asean and HUBBA to provide programmes and office spaces respectively for Singapore startups keen to enter Thailand. The GIA Bangkok launch was held at the end of a five-day long immersion programme run by C asean. 

Mr Png Cheong Boon, Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Singapore, said, “Thailand is a growing market for startups, given the strong push from its government towards a more innovative economy with the Thailand 4.0 initiative, as well as strong support from the private sector. Enterprise Singapore will help our startups plug into the Thai tech ecosystem and create market access opportunities in the growing market.” 

Said Mr Desmond Tan, Head of Business Development at Bountie, one of the eight Singapore startups who participated in the programme, “With the growing digital ecosystem in Thailand, we see great potential in the demand for our eservices. The C asean immersion programme gave us on-ground, practical insights and tips into entering the gaming market in Thailand. This really helps us better understand the market. We look forward to more opportunities in Thailand with the launch of GIA Bangkok.” 

Several partnerships were launched today In line with the three above-mentioned objectives.

True Digital Park – ACE Singapore Centre

Singapore’s Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE [1]) and True Digital Park signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to launch the True Digital Park – ACE Singapore Centre. This will help Singapore startups access the market more easily by setting up their base in the True Digital Park – ACE Singapore Centre.  

The centre will be housed in the True Digital Park, a global innovation ecosystem for both Thai and international startups, VCs and accelerators, as well as the R&D and innovation units of top companies. The Park is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2018. It will comprise a 100,000 sqm residential area, 77,000 sqm innovation area, and 28,000 sqm commercial area.

Startups can also participate in ACE’s market access and innovation programmes that will provide business connections, co-innovation opportunities, advisory services, and mentorship to facilitate market access. This will help strengthen the internal capabilities of the startups, enabling them to expand overseas.

ACE also signed an MOU with The Finlab, a fintech and SME accelerator that is a joint venture between UOB bank and SGInnovate (a private-limited company wholly-owned by the Singapore Government which aims to develop the deep tech ecosystem in Singapore). Finlab will hold accelerator programmes in the Singapore Centre for both Singapore and Thai startups.

MOU between Finlab, UOB Thailand and Digital Economy Promotion Agency

To foster greater collaboration in innovation, GIA Bangkok will continue to build a wider network of in-market partners that Singapore tech companies can leverage.

DEPA, the United Overseas Bank (Thai) (UOB(Thai)), and The FinLab have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) tox` establish a Smart Business Transformation programme aimed at helping Thai SMEs with digital transformation. They will get to pilot projects with selected technology providers curated by The Finlab, from Thailand and Singapore.

Internship opportunities in Thailand for Ngee Ann Polytechnic students

Ngee Ann Polytechnic signed seven MOUs with Thai startups and companies, (namely HUBBA, Infofed, Peer Power, Techsauce, PHOENIXICTSINWATTANA Crowdfunding and True Digital Park) and a Singapore company with presence in Thailand (Shopback) as part of its Global Entrepreneurial Internship Programme (GEIP) providing students with internship opportunities in technology organisations around the world.

Through the MOUs, students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic will have access to internship opportunities in Thailand, allowing them to experience and gain exposure to the business and tech scene in Bangkok.  

These internships are 22 weeks long, with the first batch having commenced their internships since March 2018. Ngee Ann Polytechnic expects to send 100 students annually on such internships to 10 cities including Bangkok.

[1] ACE was launched in 2003 by Singapore’s Ministry of Trade & Industry as a national effort to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Singapore. It was re-restructured in 2014 as a private-led initiative supported by the government to continue its national mandate to drive entrepreneurship initiatives in Singapore. 

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