Singapore inks deals to help local tech start-ups expand in Thailand

Minister for Trade, Lim Hng Kiang, and Thailand’s Minister of Commerce, Apiradi Tantraporn, at the 5th Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Economic Relationship (STEER) Ministerial Meeting.
Minister for Trade, Lim Hng Kiang, and Thailand’s Minister of Commerce, Apiradi Tantraporn, at the 5th Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Economic Relationship (STEER) Ministerial Meeting.PHOTO: MTI

SINGAPORE - Singapore and Thailand have inked two deals to deepen links between their tech ecosystems and help Singapore start-ups gain a foothold in Thailand.

Trade agency IE Singapore signed two memoranda of understanding. The first was with Thai Beverage unit C asean, the social enterprise subsidiary of the conglomerate, which runs a programme aimed at helping foreign start-ups set up in Thailand. The second was with Thai co-working space and ecosystem builder Hubba.

The memoranda of understanding were signed at The 5th Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Economic Relationship (STEER) Ministerial Meeting, held on Thursday (Aug 24) in Singapore.

Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang co-chaired the meeting with Thailand's Minister of Commerce, Apiradi Tantraporn.

The meeting noted the growing bilateral economic ties between both countries. In particular, officials discussed deepening cooperation in agriculture and food, information and communication technology, investment, trade facilitation, tourism, air connectivity and intellectual property cooperation.

IE Singapore said Thailand is on track to become the region's next booming tech hub - the country's nascent start-up scene has grown rapidly in recent years.

Thailand is now home to about 1,000 start-ups, making it South-east Asia's third-largest start-up ecosystem after Singapore and Indonesia.

Only three start-ups in Thailand received funding in 2012. Since then, a total of 75 start-ups have cumulatively raised US$ 170 million.

"Thailand might not be an intuitive market for start-ups, but we have to look at the country's potential trajectory," said IE Singapore assistant chief executive Tan Soon Kim.

An estimated two-thirds of Thais are social media users and the majority access social media through their mobile phones, speaking to strong prospects for the country's digital economy.

In addition, start-ups in Thailand are getting strong support from both the government and private companies keen to tap on new technologies for growth, IE noted.

"Thai conglomerates are looking out for technologies that can address their core traditional businesses, and this is where Singapore companies can come in to fill a need," said Mr Tan.

"If (Singapore companies) are able to latch on to these conglomerates, they can go regional into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV region)."