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Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at SLINGSHOT 100 - Gear Up

Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at SLINGSHOT 100 - Gear Up

1.                 Good afternoon to our SLINGSHOT participants and partners tuning in from all over the world. Thank you for joining us today at SLINGSHOT 100: Gear Up.


SLINGSHOT has grown from strength to strength


2.                 This year marks the fourth edition of SLINGSHOT. It is also the first time the competition has gone fully virtual. I am happy to see the number of participants in SLINGSHOT growing from year to year. This reflects the continued interest from startups around the world to leverage this platform as a springboard to Singapore and the region.


a.    Despite COVID-19, we received a record number of over 7,500 applications from 159 countries this year.

b.    This year, our Top 100 Global Startups bring with them an exciting set of solutions, with the largest group coming from the Healthtech, Biotech & MedTech sectors.

c.    Our pool of Judges has increased to more than 250 this year to evaluate the expanded number of applications from startups.

d.    The number of partners has also continued to grow. In 2017, we started with two; today we have more than 40 corporates on board SLINGSHOT.


3.                 To participants joining us today, congratulations on reaching the Top 100 Global Startups list from among the excellent and diverse applications submitted. This is a key milestone on your SLINGSHOT journey, and it opens the door to Singapore’s network of investors and industry experts passionate about nurturing startups such as yourselves. As our Top 100 Global Startups, you will benefit from over 250 hours of dedicated virtual mentorship including Pitch Coaching to prepare you for the Finals, one-to-one business advisory through Mentor Hours, and thematic consultations with Mentor Clinic sessions.


4.                 This year’s Gear Up will feature more than 200 mentors from all over the world. We are honoured to have among us industry leaders such as Nadia Fonny, Vice President at Gobi Partners; Will Klippgen, Managing Partner at Cocoon Capital; and James Ang, Chief Partner Officer at Dropbox.


5.                 You will also be able to hear from a diverse group of content partners, such as Antler, Baker McKenzie and Weber Shandwick on how to build better businesses holistically across different pillars. Masterclasses on offer include startup development staples such as fundraising handles, early-growth hacks, and branding know-how.


Singapore’s vibrant startup ecosystem presents many opportunities for the Top 100 Global Startups


6.                 Singapore remains a prime hub for global startups to tap into Asia’s growth opportunities, and we welcome your continued engagement even beyond this competition. Startups enjoy ready access to more than 220 venture capitalists and 190 accelerators, many of whom are present at SLINGSHOT as judges and mentors. This network has ensured Singapore’s place as a top investment destination, with deal flows amounting to over S$10.9 billion in 2019.


7.                 An example of a startup that successfully leveraged Singapore’s ecosystem is Sophie’s Bionutrients, a food tech company. Originally from California, Sophie’s Bionutrients was crowned the SLINGSHOT 2017 Grand Winner, and went on to shift its manufacturing operations to Singapore. It subsequently won S$1 million in funding at The Liveability Challenge 2019 with the development of a new microalgae protein source.


8.                 I am encouraged that global tech giants and multinational corporations have announced plans to deepen their regional presence, and they will do so out of Singapore. For example, Shopee and Bytedance have buttressed their bases here, and are ramping up on talent recruitment. Such developments to build up a strong pipeline of tech talent are key for startups to tap on.


a.    Last week, we announced the launch of Tech.Pass, a new work pass for top-tier foreign professionals and experts looking to start businesses, lead coporate teams, or teach here.


9.                 Startups here can also engage in co-innovation opportunities and work with corporates to testbed and deploy their solutions into the market swiftly. Many international corporates have participated in our Corporate Challenge, including Rolls-Royce, Haier and Philips, and the results have been encouraging.


10.             The SLINGSHOT 500: Disrupt Programme, conducted virtually last month, was added to the roster to facilitate two-way engagements between startups and corporates through workshops and networking. To date, we have seen over 100 participants from The Top 500 Global Startups matching relevant solutions to pressing industry needs. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, there remains a strong desire and ambition to innovate, paving the way to forge business and co-innovation partnerships.


11.             Amidst the current global economic climate, internationalisation remains high on our agenda. Startups based here can join our networks and programmes to expand and scale regionally. For instance, our Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) has networks with partners in 13 cities across 10 markets. Some of these partners, such as Anthill Ventures from India and RISE from Thailand, will also be at Gear Up’s webinars and mentor clinics.




12.             As we strengthen our economies for the post-COVID-19 world, Singapore will continue to be a place for high-potential startups to launch into new markets. We will intensify our efforts to support our startups, and to attract a new generation of entrepreneurs and technopreneurs that will work with fellow Singaporeans to create and grow the companies of the next generation.


13.             In just a few weeks, the SLINGSHOT Virtual Finals will take place at the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH). Happening from 7 to 11 December 2020, SWITCH will be Singapore’s first week-long, round-the-clock, hybrid event featuring thought-leaders who will share insights on the latest tech trends.


14.             We hope that these opportunities will allow you to form crucial partnerships, discover new ground and scale to greater heights. The stage is set for you to put your best foot forward with the pitch of a lifetime.


15.             I wish you all the very best in the upcoming Virtual Finals. Thank you.

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