It’s easy to see why Singapore recently claimed the top spot on the Global Innovation Index as “Asia’s most innovative economy.” The city-state is poised to take a prominent position on the global stage, thanks to a vibrant start-up culture, blossoming media industry, and deep appreciation for art and design.
In the southwest of Singapore, near the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the INSEAD Asia campus, Ayer Rajah Crescent is home to a concentration of start-ups, and Blk71 houses the city’s largest cluster of start-ups in a once run-down industrial building that had been slated for demolition. Home to hundreds of tech start-ups, venture capitalists, and incubators — including California-based Savioke, which creates hospitality robots designed to greet guests and make room deliveries — Blk71 has earned the distinction of being named “the world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem” by The Economist.
Also among Singapore’s start-up hub is JTC Launchpad, which functions as an entrepreneurship community for a wide range of industries — biomedical sciences, infocomm, and engineering, to name a few.
Many start-ups gravitate to Singapore because it has one of the best pro-business environments in the world, according to the World Bank. Furthermore, it outpaces its Asian counterparts in terms of attracting venture-capital funding and offering cheap, fast, and reliable internet access — Singapore consistently comes in first for fastest connection speed.
“Launching in Singapore opens more doors because of the regional familiarity and Singapore’s reputation,” said Samson Leo, a co-founder of Xfers, a fintech start-up also based at Blk71. “There’s clear, pro-business legislation, and Singapore is a good test-bed from which to launch products because of the demographics and significant venture-capital support.”
In fact, every year, the top minds converge at the Singapore FinTech Festival to discuss the newest industry developments, share the latest innovations, and network for future collaboration.
The Future of Media
To support the next generation of digital-content creators, Singapore recently opened PIXEL Studios, which — backed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) — provides creators with a full gamut of production tools including VR/AR gear, lighting equipment, and editing software. Creators in both media and gaming sectors work in the studio in a space that helps foster collaboration between the two.
PIXEL Studios played an integral role in last year’s Singapore Media Festival, a cornerstone event celebrating storytelling in the region and showcasing the best in Southeast Asian television, film, and digital content. The inaugural SMF Ignite, a one-day seminar included in the Festival, provided practical insights on digital-content creation and monetization opportunities for infocom professionals.
The Intersection of Art and Science
Singapore’s innovative spirit and formidable thought leadership is perhaps best embodied in the iconic Marina Bay Sands’ ArtScience Museum, which explores the interplay between technology, media, art, science, and culture.
Situated along the Marina Bay waterfront, the museum’s outward-facing design — a lotus flower with “petals” that rise up from the base and provide natural light for the galleries — hints at the mesmerizing exhibitions found within. For example, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Singapore artist Brian Gothong Tan, the museum recently opened “Into the Wild: An Immersive Virtual Adventure,” which allows visitors to explore a virtual rainforest. Part adventure and part lesson in deforestation, visitors can interact with animals on the brink of extinction as a result of deforestation, and, at the conclusion of the exhibition, even plant a tree in an Indonesian rainforest.
It’s an example of how the ArtScience museum examines the planet’s most pressing issues — and in a larger way, how Singapore goes about creating a framework for an inclusive and innovative society that supports global goals.
To learn more about innovation in Singapore, visit the Singapore Tourism Board’s website.
This article was developed for Singapore Tourism Board by Quartz Creative, the in-house branded content arm of Quartz.