Singapore is well-known as one of the top expat destinations in the world, for both career prospects and family life. Now the company is looking to target the technology sector, particularly innovative expat entrepreneurs. According to a recent CNN Money piece by Katherine Ryder:
Singapore’s new pet project is creativity. The country has long had its eyes on Silicon Valley and over the last decade it has implemented plans to more or less recreate the California tech scene in Southeast Asia. At first, Singapore attempted to throw billions of dollars at venture capitalists and private equity firms. Then, seeing too little of that money trickling down to startups, it began funding them more directly. In its latest scheme, the government plans $50 million of direct investment in 100 companies over five years.
There are weaknesses in the government strategy, however. As Ryder observes:
Singapore’s indigenous market is so small (the country has just 5 million inhabitants) that entrepreneurs must go global from day one. Singapore’s is a society that is naturally risk averse, partly because of the government’s top-down governing approach, partly because of the lack of a welfare state and partly because education is geared towards managerialism rather than entrepreneurialism.
In the end this may lead to Singapore developing into a niche tech hub for expats eager to start businesses or catapult ahead in their careers. It remains to be seen, however, how well this would mesh with the government’s plans to restrict work permits for foreigners (entrepreneurs would probably be all right under the new regulations, though entry-level professionals could have problems).