BLOCK71 Suzhou opens to boost tech entrepreneurship between Singapore, China

Finance minister Heng Swee Keat (middle, yellow tie) at an event commemorating the extension of BLOCK71 into Suzhou, China yesterday (Nov 23). From left to right: Mr Aylwin Tan, Chief Customer Solutions Officer, Ascendas-Singbridge; Mr Fang Wei, Deputy Secretary-General of Jiangsu Province; Mr Chen Zhenning, Vice Governor of Jiangsu Province; Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance; Dr Koh Poh Koon, Singapore Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade & Industry and Ministry of National Development; Mr Stanley Loh, Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore to the People’s Republic of China; and Dr Lily Chan, CEO, NUS Enterprise. PHOTO: IE SINGAPORE
Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat and Jiangsu Governor Wu Zhenglong at a courtesy call before the Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council meeting in Suzhou on Thursday morning (Nov 23). PHOTO: IE SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - BLOCK71 Suzhou - an incubation space initiative to promote tech innovation and entrepreneurship between Singapore and China - was officially launched on Thursday (Nov 23) by Singapore Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat.

Mr Heng unveiled the new initiative at the 11th SJCC (Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council) meeting that was held in Suzhou, a city in the Jiangsu province of China.

BLOCK71 Suzhou will operate in two locations: one within the Suzhou Industrial Park, and the other at Ascendas iHub Suzhou. It is managed by NUS Enterprise (the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore), and supported by the NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute and Ascendas-Singbridge.

BLOCK71 Suzhou will provide support for Singapore entrepreneurs and tech startups looking to explore business opportunities in China and other new markets, while leveraging the three partners' global networks and resources.

The Business Times understands that BLOCK71 Suzhou is the first BLOCK71 facility globally that supports deep tech startups. BLOCK71's other facilities are in Singapore, San Francisco and Jakarta; BLOCK71 Jakarta was launched in July.

Other areas of collaboration discussed at the SJCC meeting were professional services and urban renewal.

In the former, International Enterprise Singapore said Global eTrade Services (GeTS), a wholly owned subsidiary of government-linked firm CrimsonLogic, is working with the Suzhou Industrial Park to simplify the trade declaration process, making it easier for exporters to trade with Jiangsu. Rajah & Tann and Boardroom are among firms that have been offering professional services to Jiangsu enterprises for their expansion overseas.

There are also opportunities for Singapore companies to partner Jiangsu companies in urban renewal as the province develops "Special Characteristics Townships", which are sub-urban areas to grow niche industries while tapping into and preserving cultural and historical assets.

CapitaLand indicated during the SJCC meeting that it is looking into participating in the development of such townships, following the launch of Suzhou Center, the developer's biggest-ever mall, in Suzhou Industrial Park earlier this month.

Over 65 representatives from 39 Singapore companies across logistics, real estate, security services, education, banking sectors attended the SJCC meeting.

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