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Singapore and the startup world according to Dr. Alex Lin

Zafar Anjum | March 26, 2014
Singapore, as a startup hotspot, has strengths and weaknesses, says Dr. Alex Lin, head of Singapore’s Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL) in this exclusive interview. We are, in a sense, losing our edge, he says. But despair not as Dr. Lin has some magic number in his mind that will help create a very vibrant tech ecosystem in Singapore. What is that magic number and how Dr. Lin and his team are going to achieve success?

This (what Singapore has achieved so far) is a fantastic job, but now we are looking at how to tap all this technology out to become usable, benefiting more people. So we've done the so-called foundation already. The next stage we're going to do is pull it out (and commercialize).

Creating a vibrant tech ecosystem here in Singapore

We are looking at how we can create a very vibrant tech ecosystem here in Singapore. So firstly, we look at everybody else. What do they do? And we have to pick and choose. We have very talented people but they are not coders. We have people in the tech space who can conceive and design; but we don't have the arms to do it. So this is one of the weaknesses that we have.

Secondly, we don't have a big market. But we are rich. Money is down here. All the VCs are down here because it makes a good investment. Like it or not, it's here. So, we have some advantages and disadvantages.

The magic number

So what does it take for us to become very vibrant? When you have close to 150 investable start ups, all of a sudden the ecosystem starts changing. Why is that so? Nobody really knows but 140 to 150 seems to be a magic number. Looking at places like Chicago, and even Detroit. It's somehow when you have accumulated this number of series in a company, people start moving. Maybe we will create 200 investable start ups in Singapore. So here comes the magic number - 200 - where IIPL will be able to invest in a maybe a quarter, or half of them. And the industry will be able to build the rest of them.

To be continued



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