Singapore Frontrunner In Deep Tech Innovation Revolution

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Singapore has gone on to emerge as one of the significant players in the worldwide deep tech spectrum. Throughout the past decade, the government has gone on to commit over S$19 billion so as to advance research and development within deep tech, as per the Sparkmate report.
There happen to be numerous initiatives that are aimed at strengthening the startup scenario in this sector.

One of the key initiatives that goes on to drive Singapore’s deep tech agenda happens to be the Singapore Deep-Tech Alliance- SDTA which facilitates partnerships and at the same time offers avenues for companies so as to create new startups, get the existing ones to the market, find solutions to issues, and even access the protected technologies. This initiative indeed enhances collaboration and, at the same time, accelerates progress when it comes to deep tech ventures in Singapore’s ecology.

Besides this, Singapore also launched A*StartCentral- A*SC in 2016, which happens to be the  first-of-its-kind open innovation platform offered by the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research- A*STAR which aims to incubate as well as accelerate the progress of deep tech startups and also serves to bolster the startup ecosystem, in areas like medtech and life sciences. It has, as of now, more than 150 deep tech startups within it.

As per the Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Innovation & Enterprise Services, Enterprise Singapore, Emily Liew, A*SC, which is a key player in Singapore’s deep tech ecosystem, goes on to empower early-stage startups within their entrepreneurial journey. By way of offering guidance and also support, A*StartCentral enables the startups to go ahead and expand beyond Singapore and at the same time, tap into worldwide markets, thereby fostering innovation as well as entrepreneurship on a global scale.

A*SC, apparently, builds upon the foundation of an open innovation community so as to foster cross-pollination as well as interaction among researchers, investors, corporations, startups, as well as entrepreneurs across varied disciplines.

A*SC will keep inspiring and in fact innovating and at the same time, also empower researchers along with entrepreneurs in terms of building successful, deep technology-led ventures.

In order to accelerate the creation when it comes to successful deep tech startups from the research pipeline, Temasek, which happens to be a worldwide investment company owned by the Government of Singapore in 2023 September went on to ink a Memorandum of Understanding- MoU with the National University of Singapore- NUS as well as Nanyang Technological University- NTU so as to embark on a collaborative S$75 million pilot program.

It is well to be noted that in this initiative, Temasek will go on to invest S$65 million via Xora Innovation- Xora which happens to be an early-stage deep tech investment base of Temasek and on the other hand, NUS and NTU will each fund S$5 million in this effort.

Temasek and Xora will go on to partner with the two universities in order to launch and build internationally competitive ventures with strong potential so as to address large global market opportunities across areas like energy transition, biotechnology, along with the future of computation and cognition.

As per the report released by SGInnovate, the kind of biotech companies within Singapore is anticipated to grow by over 60% in the next 10 years, but the fact is that there is a talent shortage that continues to pose hurdles for organizations within this sector.

In order to address the talent crunch element, SGInnovate went ahead and launched Deep Tech Central-DTC, which is Singapore’s only one-stop gateway that goes on to address talent and startup requirements in this fast-growing and surging tech landscape.

In January last year, SGInnovate started yet another drive named Deep Tech Talent Central-DTTC which is an integrated strategy when it comes to solving talent challenges throughout emerging tech industries.

DTTC goes on to serve as Singapore’s premium talent gateway, which helps in fostering skill development as well as catalysing the progress when it comes to the deep tech job market.

Moreover, SGInnovate went ahead and opened the Helix Immersion Programme- HIP which looks forward to training and placing more than 100 candidates in biotech startups as well as companies by 2025, thereby offering invaluable industry experience and at the same time also addressing skill gaps within the workforce.

These endeavors seem to be paying off. Notably, between January 2020 and June 2023, 86% of the overall deep tech deals within the region took place in Singapore, thereby attracting 96% of the total proceeds. Interestingly, one in every four deep tech deals took place in health tech, thereby absorbing more than half of the entire investment value, as per the new report from DealStreetAsia.

As per Emily, they are indeed pleased to see early encouraging signs. While the funding spectrum has not been entirely spared by funding winter, Singapore has gone on to see a 36% year-on-year rise when it comes to deep tech deals from January-September 2023, which comprised three-quarters of the overall deep tech deal volume across Southeast Asia. To make sure of continued liquidity, partners like SEEDS Capital will go on to anchor as well as collaborate with more global VCs so as to co-invest in the promising startups.

Although deep technology has gone on to gain momentum in recent times, Singapore has been stressing on it for the last few decades.

Emily adds that deep tech is nothing new to Singapore. Apparently, the Singapore Government has already gone on to put sustained investment within the research, innovation, and enterprise-related domains in the past three decades, thereby building a pool when it comes to deep scientific capabilities as well as talent in the research-intensive universities along with A*STAR research institutes. Singapore happens to have around 40,000 research scientists as well as engineers in the ecosystem as on date who are working in fields that span from quantum engineering to precision medicine to renewable energy.

Looking forward

There still happens to be vast untapped potential when it comes to deep tech. Startups happen to be inherently dynamic in addition to being agile, unencumbered because of rigid structures as well as processes from larger firms, and can indeed be laser-focused when it comes to developing novel technologies.

They have done well in order to set up an ecosystem that helps with startup agility and development. Last year, apparently, Singapore went on to be placed eighth in the world in Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking. Likewise, in Startup Blink’s Global Startup Ecosystem Index, Singapore was ranked first across Southeast Asia, and sixth in the world.

However, deep-tech venture building happens to be a completely different game. These technologies go on to require a long gestation, enormous amounts of patient capital, and deep expertise ranging from scientific research to business leadership.

Due to the considerable resources that are required, Emily adds that their approach has to be targeted to deepen Singapore’s strengths. They need to have VCs as well as investors who comprehend deep tech and, at the same time, have expertise so as to help the startups go ahead and make breakthroughs as well as scale their businesses. Biotech, notably, happens to be one such area.

It is well to be noted that Singapore’s deep tech ecosystem takes advantage of the support of a progressing, and closely intertwined network of stakeholders, which includes founders, researchers, government partners, investors, etc.

According to Director of Talent (Health and Human Potential), SGInnovate, Dr. Vanessa Ding, there is also robust recognition when it comes to the policy level of Deep Tech and their wider research, innovation, and enterprise activities as they go on to remain crucial to Singapore’s consistent development, with another S$3 billion committed to the RIE2025 plan in the latest budget announcements. Beyond the financial steps, this acknowledgement of the significance of science as well as research also underpins effective public-private collaboration, with varied players across the ecosystem that are allowed so as to contribute efficiently to the entire growth of the spectrum.

The collective endeavors when it comes to government agencies, industry players, as well as academic institutions have gone on to position Singapore as the leading hub when it comes to deep tech innovation.