For some time now Singapore has been jostling with Hong Kong to take the crown as Asia’s financial capital. Whilst Hong Kong will always be the financial gateway to China, Singapore has seen considerable investment over the past couple of years, particularly from global commodity trading firms looking to take advantage of Singapore’s bunkering port, the largest in the world.
Known for the transparency and openness of its companies, Singapore is perfectly poised to not only become a hub for financial leadership, but innovation too. In 2013 it came top of Solidance’s ‘Most Innovative Asian City’ list, ahead of Sydney and Melbourne.
Not only a city that’s become synonymous with ‘clean’ business, it’s also renowned for its quality of life. Ranked at a respectable 26th on this year’s ‘Mercer Quality of Living Survey’, it’s a good environment for young creatives and academics who want to make use of the city’s attractions, whilst also operating in a business space which encourages innovation.
There’s also a rich pool of universities who operate in the area, all of which contribute directly to the success of Singapore’s businesses. The National University of Singapore (NUS) is ranked as the 25th best in the world by The Times and is praised for its global approach to education. The presence of prestigious schools such as the NUS means that companies operating in Singapore will have a consistent supply of talented graduates to choose from.
Looking to take advantage of this, General Motors recently shifted their non-Chinese international operations to Singapore, moving away from Shanghai. Lured by tax breaks and the opportunity to tap into the region’s developing markets, Singapore is becoming the go-to-place for multinationals looking to move or set up regional headquarters in Asia.
Some will point to Singapore’s notoriety as a suppressor of free-speech as an indicator that they aren’t ready to welcome a diverse workforce to their city. Studies have shown that Singaporeans still aren’t accepting of homosexuals, and in truth, there’s no doubt that this close-mindedness could put some off setting up a base there.
Despite this, the city-state remains a hot-spot for creativity and will continue to be one of Asia’s main innovation hubs. A city that puts considerable emphasis on work-life balance, the foundations are there for it to be the ideal place for those who want to help bring innovation to the companies they work for.
Run by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, SPRING Singapore is an example of a programme that helps startup companies get off the ground. Offering financial assistance and advice, it’s these types of initiatives that make Singapore one of the most sought after places for new, innovative companies to make their mark.