1. Good afternoon everyone. I am delighted to be here for the Makan for Hope In-Real-Life Gathering 2022. It’s heartening to be among an inspiring community of tech entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, and industry leaders gathered here today.
2. The theme for this year’s event – Together, we are One – is especially apt. There is a greater urgency for unity and cohesion in the post-pandemic new normal and era of climate change that we find ourselves in today. Without collaboration and cooperation, we will not be able to fight climate change or overcome the disruptions and difficulties of the pandemic.
Agility in the face of adversity
3. In addition, we are experiencing global headwinds from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Prolonged supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic have also widened the fault lines of economic and political uncertainty. Strong inflationary pressures are spreading across the globe. These challenges are expected to weigh on the growth outlook of the Singapore economy.
4. The startup ecosystem has not been spared from the adverse impact of these developments. The Economist reported in June 2022 on a “great Silicon Valley shake-out”. The pace of venture funding has slowed amid increasing economic uncertainty and rising interest rates. Recently, there has been a spate of layoffs in tech companies worldwide.
5. However, despite the dark clouds, our startups have found the silver lining of opportunities.
6. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many startups successfully pivoted to new business and operating models to meet emerging consumer needs. They took the chance to innovate, strengthen core capabilities and advance their technologies.
7. Several venture capitalists like Jungle Ventures, East Ventures and Wavemaker built on their strong foundations and raised fresh capital this year. Our startups were in turn able to tap on the funding, both locally and from the region.
8. This agility and resilience are critical for the continued growth of our startup ecosystem. The Government is committed to boosting our startups’ chances of success by providing strong support for enterprise and innovation, as well as access to funding and opportunities for research and collaboration.
Strong government support
9. For these reasons, Startup SG was created by Enterprise Singapore to support and nurture a vibrant startup ecosystem. Since 2017, it has led various initiatives and programmes, and also showcased our startups locally and overseas. To the startups in our midst today, I hope that you will engage Startup SG if you have yet to do so. We are keen to help startups like you move forward and achieve the potential you were made for. In addition, Startup SG has a range of schemes and measures to help entrepreneurs, investors, and accelerators.
10. Access to financing is a vital area where Startup SG provides essential support. For instance, investors can tap on the Startup SG Equity as well as the Startup SG Loan schemes.
a. Under the Startup SG Equity scheme, the Government will co-invest in innovative tech startups that have intellectual property and global market potential. The Government can also invest in selected venture capital funds that will in turn invest in eligible startups.
b. Meanwhile, under the Startup SG Loan scheme, the Government co-shares the default risk so that startups can tap on loans to meet their business needs which could include working capital, venture debt and growth financing needs.
11. In 2021, about 2,300 startups benefitted from funding, incubation and mentorship opportunities through the Startup SG programmes and partners. This was a 10% increase compared to 2020. On mentorship, the Startup SG Founder scheme is one example. This scheme provides mentorship and startup capital to first-time entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas. Under the scheme, Accredited Mentor Partners (AMP) appointed by the Government will mentor entrepreneurs and engage them in learning programmes, as well as facilitate their access to potential funding.
12. The Government is also building Singapore as a Global Asia Node of innovation, technology and enterprise. For example, in the area of technology - the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) helps startups and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) gain access to overseas partners for co-innovation and market expansion. Last year, over 230 enterprises and startups tapped on the GIA network and its acceleration programmes to venture overseas. This is nearly double the participation in 2020.
13. At the same time, we recognise that even the best ideas cannot be realised without the right people. The Government’s Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-Up) programme supports local startups in developing in-house R&D and technical capabilities. T-Up co-funds the secondment of Research Scientist and Engineers (RSEs) from A*STAR’s Research Institutes to help our local startups.
Culture of collaboration in the startup economy
14. Through the years, Singapore has established itself among the leading startup hubs in Asia and the world. The recent StartupBlink's Startup Ecosystem Index ranked Singapore top in the Asia Pacific and 7th in the world for 2022. Today, startups in Singapore have access to over 200 global and local accelerators and some 300 early-stage venture capitalists.
15. The vibrant tech startup ecosystem that we know today could not have been possible without the contributions of many entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, and incubators like many of you here. In particular,
a. Founders who, by sharing their experience and expertise, help their peers learn and adopt best practices, and
b. Investors who assist startups by strengthening and sharpening their business models and fundamentals.
16. The Makan for Hope initiative exemplifies a positive spirit of collaboration that builds up our startup ecosystem. It brings the tech startup community together and serves as a valuable platform for the vibrant exchange of ideas, advice and expertise.
17. I would like to commend and thank the co-founders of Makan for Hope, Elise and Andrew, for their generous spirit in organising this purposeful initiative. And kudos also to those who have continued to support this meaningful event since it started three years ago.
18. I am delighted that donations raised from this gathering will go towards the Over-the-Rainbow, an organisation which seeks to address youth and mental wellness.
19. Together, we can make a difference – to improve the world through our ideas, solutions and collaboration. Events like Makan for Hope bring the tech startup community together for a cause and it’s a reminder of how we can support and uplift each other. I hope this spirit of unity and collaboration will continue to grow. Many more startups will benefit from the conversations, stories and connections they make today and in time to come.
20. I wish everyone an enjoyable and fulfilling evening ahead. Thank you.