S'pore top destination in South-east Asia for start-up investment: KPMG, HSBC report

The Republic is currently home to more than 9,300 start-ups and 12 unicorn companies. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Start-up ventures in Singapore raised more than US$8.02 billion ($11.2 billion) last year, making it the top destination in South-east Asia for such investments, a report by KPMG and HSBC released on Monday (July 18) showed.

The Republic is currently home to more than 9,300 start-ups and 12 unicorn companies, which are start-ups that have valuations of US$1 billion or more.

Mr Ong Pang Thye, managing partner of KPMG in Singapore, said investments in start-ups will drive innovation here, while boosting economic strength and market confidence.

"The challenge going forward will be to continue attracting unicorn companies to reside here.

"Strong ecosystem support will be needed, such as public and private programmes and an environment that attracts and grooms top talent," Mr Ong added.

Ms Jacqueline Poh, managing director of the Economic Development Board (EDB), said EDB will continue to focus on high-growth and high value-added sectors.

Sectors that are propelling new investments in Singapore include healthcare, electronics, agriculture technology, advanced manufacturing and sustainable solutions for the green economy, she added.

"Start-ups in Singapore tell me that they appreciate easy access to accelerator programmes, a wide range of funding sources, a strong talent base and linkages to overseas markets," said Ms Poh.

Start-ups can access more than 200 global and local accelerators in Singapore.

With the Republic making sustainability a priority, investments in start-ups related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) are expected to rise as well, noted the report by KPMG and HSBC.

It added that there are special government incentives available for companies with innovations or technologies for cutting carbon emissions, waste, water and plastic use, and developing plant-based products.

The Emerging Giants In Asia-Pacific report by KPMG and HSBC examined new-economy businesses across the region with strong potential to impact the global business landscape over the next decade.

More than 6,472 technology-focused start-ups with valuations of up to US$500 million were studied across 12 markets, with 10 leading companies identified in each market.

Aside from unicorn companies, Singapore is also home to emerging giants - fast-growing, influential and innovative start-ups with ambitions of becoming unicorn companies.

They include property portal 99.co, payments software platform Spenmo, blockchain technology company imToken and finance operating system company Aspire.

EDB's Ms Poh said a major challenge for start-ups globally is finding good engineers, product managers and other technical talent.

But she added: "Singapore already has a strong base of engineering and technology talent emerging from our world-class universities and mid-career skills retraining efforts.

"Since Singapore started reopening its borders last year, the flow of tech talent has also resumed."

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