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How talent is changing Singapore’s startups

Written by Alice Bentinck on Tuesday, 19 July 2016. Posted in Insight, Analysis

The evolving talent pool in Singapore has made the city-state perfect for startups

How talent is changing Singapore’s startups

Much like London, Singapore’s pro-business policies and a strategic location have made it a thriving state as well as a favoured Asian business destination. So, when Entrepreneur First was looking to open  its first global office, setting up shop in Singapore was a no-brainer. But what’s actually happening on the ground?

From value-adding to value-creating

Asian consumers are increasingly demanding quality and innovative products. Likewise, the Singapore government is increasingly advocating the need for its economy to move from value-adding to value-creating. This is developing an environment where individuals with a deep technical ability and ideas can translate them into commercial solutions. The result of this is countless innovations and opportunities in areas such as preventative healthcare, the digital economy and solutions for urban sustainability to name a few.

The new ‘traditional career path’

London and Singapore both have reputations for their top talent being poached by the financial services industry. Singapore has exceptional research taking place in its universities but its talent still follows traditional career paths in banking and law or moves into some of the heavyweight tech companies.

But that is something we are working to change. One of our mantras is: ‘if you’re good enough to work for Google, don’t’. And this certainly holds true in Singapore. Creating an entrepreneurial culture means showing them that startups and tech are separate things. We’re starting to see this happen with a nice mix coming from larger tech corporates and computer-based research labs.

Amazing education system

Startups in Singapore have plenty of options for finding individuals with the relevant skills thanks to the high quality of education available in the country. Nearly 80% of our first intake in the country studied at either the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University or Singapore University of Technology and Design. That is three of the six biggest national universities.

This is symptomatic of a wider trend. We are seeing a spike in people working on things like robotics, electric cars or augmented reality, all with years of research and industry experience on niche topics. There are now lots of people doing groundbreaking stuff who, up until now, have had very few role models for building companies with hardcore technology.

Exciting future

We have been truly amazed by Singapore’s talent. At the moment, Entrepreneur First is the only organisation in town doing this; in a few years it’s going to be very different. Right now we feel like Singapore is on the cusp of something great and so is Entrepreneur First. We’ve got a great team and a brilliant cohort waiting in the wings, so it is safe to say that Singapore’s startup scene is heading towards something good.

About the Author

Alice Bentinck

Alice Bentinck

To describe Bentinck as well-versed in tech would be something of an understatement. She co-founded both Entrepreneur First, the pre-seed investment programme for Europe's best technical founders, and Code First: Girls, the provider of free coding courses for young women. She has also been a judge for TechCrunch Disrupt, acts as an advisor for Sherry Coutu’s Founders4Schools and was one of five innovation advisors to the prime minister at the Northern Future Forum 2014.

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