The BBC’s globetrotting business reporter Peter Day has been in Singapore again, collecting profiles for another installment of his ‘start-up stories‘ series. He finds once more a country with a unique position in the world as the only fully independent city-state, the challenges past and present necessary to its survival, and how it has turned to entrepreneurship once it had achieved its modernization goals.
The government has done its bit with startup grants and impressive institutes like Biopolis and Fusionpolis attracting researchers from around the world. But does Singapore have the culture of risk-taking and individuality he says is necessary to produce a vibrant startup scene? Safe jobs with the government and large multinationals still seem more ideal to young Singaporeans, while government grants to startups may be counterproductive to cultural change.
The conclusion in this report is that Singapore will change, and quickly. It has to, to compete with larger corporations who seem more comfortable these days going directly to China and Asia rather than using Singapore as a gateway. Singapore has always defied the pessimists in the past. But there’s still some way to go before Singapore’s entrepreneurial spirit matches the place everything always gets compared to: Silicon Valley.