Despite COVID-19, Singapore tech startups are not slowing down. The country is making a significant effort to attract global tech leaders with the goal of establishing Singapore as a technology hub. The new Singapore Tech.Pass is the latest incentive hoping to lure top talent to set up shop in the megalopolis.

Tech.Pass announced

On 12 November 2020, Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EBD) announced its new plan, due for launch in January 2021, called “Tech.Pass”. The media release describes Tech.Pass as “a targeted programme to attract founders, leaders and technical experts with experience in established or fast-growing tech companies, so as to contribute to the development of Singapore’s tech ecosystem.” The EBD hopes to grow the city-nation as a tech hub by encouraging talented entrepreneurs and leaders to base their business ventures in Singapore.

Who is the desired applicant?

The EBD released the eligibility criteria for Tech.Pass applications, stating that there will be 500 spots available on the programme at its launch. The bar is set very high and targets C-level tech developers and leaders. To apply for the Tech.Pass an applicant must meet two or more criteria including a monthly salary of $20,000 SGD in the last year, have at least five years experience in a leadership role at either a tech company worth at least$500 million USD, or developed a tech product with 100,000 active users or exceeding$100 million USD in annual revenue.

Upon receiving a Tech.Pass, the holder can engage in multiple activities such as starting or operating a business; becoming a shareholder, investor, Board of Directors member, or employee at a Singapore based company; lecture at institutes of higher learning or conduct corporate training workshops; and serve as a mentor or advisor of Singapore startups. The competition to lure these globally-mobile tech leaders and entrepreneurs is fierce, so Singapore is rolling out the welcome wagon to encourage this elite talent to choose it over other countries.

The ABCD of tech

With this highly skilled pool of Tech.Pass holders, Singapore wants to bring expertise and knowledge of cutting-edge technologies that will shape the future to its shores. The ABCD of technology – artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and data analytics will undoubtedly be its primary focus. The development of these sectors of technology is in high demand right now, making them likely candidates for pre-unicorn and unicorn companies in the future. 

As of June 2020, there are over 600 unicorn companies, the highest to date. Browsing the list shows that most of these companies are in the tech sector, with many belonging to the ABCD group specifically. As a burgeoning technology hub, Singapore should heavily invest in these areas to stay globally competitive.

Effects of COVID-19

The world has stepped up a gear in developing new technology, caused by the unprecedented global pandemic. Hot areas such as medtech, edtech, and fintech specifically have seen massive gains during the past year. There was a scramble to find solutions to enormous changes, such as increased online education demands. In the medical field, issues like the mass production and rapid supplying of PPE and other medical necessities to overwhelmed hospitals, the swift development of possible COVID-19 vaccines and a move to online medical consultations, all sped up innovation. 

Tech startups and companies able to provide quick, helpful solutions continue to thrive in this post-pandemic world. As society adapts to the new normal, innovations in the tech industry are vital to support answers to new problems and smooth over gaps left by the many changes in society. Singapore is in a great position to provide a base for many tech startups to develop and flourish as everyone tries to move on from COVID-19. Attracting leaders in the tech field is a smart way to remain competitive in the ever-changing global economy.

Increased cybersecurity requirements

As Singapore’s tech hub status develops thanks to its new Tech.Pass scheme, there will be an even greater focus on cybersecurity. According to an annual study conducted by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)(2) there is currently a cybersecurity workforce gap of roughly 2.045 million in the Asia-Pacific region. With more areas relying on technological advancements, there is an ever-growing need for increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity. Singapore can help remedy his gap by developing a strong cybersecurity industry while also assisting companies to feel safe basing their operations in the country.

The announcement of the new Singapore Tech.Pass is a sign of good things to come for the country’s startup ecosystem. Singapore tech startups stand to benefit from attracting top talent to the city. By focusing on ABCD tech and beefing up cybersecurity, the development of Singapore as a technology hub will likely see it become even more competitive in a global market post-pandemic.