More help for local start-ups to access China's innovation ecosystem

International Enterprise Singapore said China is emerging as a conducive ground for tech companies to grow as the Chinese government pushes for greater innovation and entrepreneurship. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - National trade agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore signed two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with tech partners last week to help more Singapore companies gain access to China's innovation ecosystem.

The partnerships with AIRMaker (accelerator), NTUitive (enterprise arm of NTU) and 36Kr (top Chinese media platform) will help local tech companies understand the China market, test-bed their products as well as partner with Chinese companies to implement solutions.

IE Singapore said China - especially Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Suzhou and Wuhan - is emerging as a conducive ground for tech companies to grow as the Chinese government pushes for greater innovation and entrepreneurship. Beijing and Shanghai were recently ranked 4th and 8th respectively as the best start-up ecosystems in the world. Beijing, with more than 7,000 start-ups, is the third largest ecosystem in the world and largest in Asia.

Said Mr Yew Sung Pei, assistant CEO, IE Singapore: "China has always been a market of interest to our Singapore companies, not only because of its sheer size, but because of the innovativeness and entrepreneurial spirit of the domestic market. Through our partnerships with AIRmaker, NTUitive and 36Kr, we hope to ease market access for our tech companies, connect them to the right networks and partners to learn from bigger players. This will eventually grow a stronger pool of Singapore tech companies and build our local tech sector."

With the MOUs in place, Singapore tech start-ups will have access to tailor-made programmes to make headway into China's diverse market landscape. AIRmaker - an accelerator focused on Internet-of-Things (IoT), healthcare and AI (artificial intelligence) - will coordinate and conduct market access programmes to connect Singapore deeptech and medtech companies to the ecosystem in China. They will provide resources such as co-working spaces, market network, support and training to facilitate growth and expansion in Beijing and other parts of China.

The first run of the programme will benefit eight to 10 companies working on AI solutions. To widen its reach, IE Singapore and AIRmaker will work with NTUitive, the innovation and enterprise arm of Nanyang Technology University (NTU), to bring its research innovations on board.

36Kr is China's top tech blog that spun off into a media, co-working space and a venture fundraising and financial services company. It will work with IE Singapore to provide Singapore tech start-ups with curated accelerator programmes, networks and opportunities to connect to in-market mentors, investors and partners to facilitate growth, or as a source for new technology partnerships in China. This partnership will benefit a wide array of start-ups ranging from consumer to medtech, said the trade agency.

The MOU signings in Beijing are part of IE Singapore's continued efforts to help Singapore companies access key tech markets and source for innovative tech. Just last month, IE Singapore inked two MOUs with C asean and HUBBA - innovation and tech eco-systems builders in Thailand - to provide Singapore tech companies with access to an in-market immersion programme and co-working spaces in Bangkok.

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