Image credit; Office of the President of South Korea

Image credit; Office of the President of South Korea

Singapore’s Startup Culture Set to Grow through Partnership with South Korea

Singapore’s foreign policy hard line has always been to stay relevant to remain competitive. Deepening bilateral trade ties with South Korea in the latest inked partnership achieves just that. Technological initiatives are at the forefront.

Singaporean SMEs and startups can expect more opportunities to venture into the Korean market. Two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were signed on 12 July 2018 between Enterprise Singapore (ESG), and South Korea’s Ministry of SMEs & Startups (MSS) and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). The MOU hopes to boost a technology centred collaboration and co-innovation between SMEs and startups.

Go Big; Don’t Stay Home

In recent years, the Singapore government has intensified efforts to develop a bustling startup ecosystem. Apart from providing generous grants to startups, the government has also put in place supporting policy frameworks to ensure a startup’s success. Startup SG for example was launched by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to centralise support for local businesses.

However, for Singapore to punch above its weight, staying local isn’t an option. The Singapore government has iterated that myopic or timid business models will not stand a chance in the upcoming decade. SMEs and startups need to learn the best practices from businesses overseas and buzz for colossal breakthroughs. These will eventually be implemented at home.

Local businesses are not the only ones who stand to gain. Overseas businesses which wish to penetrate the Singapore market are enthusiastically received as well. Attractive policies have been drawn up; all in the name of encouraging an ebb and flow of innovative technology.

What to Expect

To ensure such dynamism, the government must make the first move. The MOU with MSS is exemplary. Entailed with the MOU is a vision to provide landing pads for SMEs and startups in both countries. Landing pads provide new businesses with crucial business advice, and operating space and facilities.

With ESG’s assistance, MSS will be the first to provide this in Singapore. Entrepreneurs can expect to work with Korean counterparts in the new facility by the end of 2018. The landing pad will run existing programs in association with current partners such as the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE). Through the landing pad, ESG is optimistic that the government backed venture capital ecosystem will spur new innovations.

However, SMEs and startups aren’t the only ones who benefit. ESG’s partnership with KOTRA will ensure mutual economic growth and development through business matching sessions. Some key focus sectors worth mentioning under the partnership are Smart City solutions, and e-commerce.  Within the second half of 2018, the agency partners will explore collaborative opportunities for Smart City.

Two is Better than One

South Korea boasts world-class technology and experience. Thus, Singapore businesses stand to gain tremendous tech insights from the stronger bilateral ties. Monies will also naturally stream in. Already, both countries rank within each other’s top ten trading partners. Singapore has invested USD 1.8 billion in 2017, and the total volume of trade between the two countries amounted to SGD 45.4 billion. ESG is optimistic that trade volumes will rise.

Large capitals are needed to kickstart promising breakthroughs among startups and SMEs. Hence proactive and astute governments are necessary if they want their economies to thrive during economic uncertainty. So far, Singapore has demonstrated that it can, and will, stay ahead of the curve. This is evidenced by the multiple tech-related ventures it has already embarked on with Australia, Germany, and now South Korea. More strategic tech-centred bilateral partnerships can be expected soon, given the Singapore government’s endeavour for a Smart Nation. 

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