Singapore Is Seeking to Become a High-Tech Center
Armed with incentives, Singapore has been increasing its efforts to get technology businesses and investors interested in the country.
Companies and government officials say the goal of the campaign is to make Singapore into a high-tech center.
But now, the city-state is turning its attention to finding skilled workers, and even the government says its work is not done.
U.S.-based investor Paul Bragiel said he had to be asked three or four times before he accepted an invitation from Singapore to come see its tech industry.
Bragiel made the nearly 13,000-kilometer trip from the United States in 2010. Back then, he said, the city-state's chances of becoming a leading Asian tech center were "bleak, to say the least."
But he saw some promise, and like many other investors and tech companies since then, he was attracted by generous terms from government agencies.
"They gave us a very aggressive deal. Very few countries would have matched it," added Bragiel. He also considered Hong Kong and Tokyo for an Asian expansion before helping to set up Golden Gate Ventures in Singapore in 2011. The Reuters news agency reported that he would not say what the terms of his deal were.
Golden Gate Ventures is a venture capital company. It connects investors with startup companies and other businesses.
Singapore, Southeast Asia and the tech industry
Singapore is one of the smallest nations in Southeast Asia.
Internet users in nearby Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia spend four hours or more every day on mobile internet. That information comes from a 2018 study by social media platform Hootsuite.
Manufacturing, finance and insurance businesses made up more than a third of Singapore's $356 billion economy last year.
The information-communications sector, which includes tech companies, represents about 4% of that total. But it is growing faster than any other sector, based on information released last week.
Information and communications grew at about 6.6% in the first three months of 2019. The next fastest of the nine sectors Singapore follows was finance and insurance at 3.2%.
Chng Kai Fong is managing director of Singapore's Economic Development Board, or EDB. The EDB is the government agency that negotiates some deals between local companies and foreign investors.
Fong said he is now hoping to attract "Jedi Masters", or high-level tech people, to Singapore. With the help of those "Jedi Masters," he hopes can finally turn Singapore into a major tech center.
Details on the deals negotiated with the EDB are hard to come by. The government makes businesses sign nondisclosure agreements, noted companies, advisors and officials.
Tax holidays, financial aid for research and development and co-funding for investments are among the incentives from different agencies, they added.
The secretive nature of the deals means it is unclear how much the country spends to attract such companies and whether it proves profitable.
Challenges and criticisms
Yet a number of issues remain. Some tech companies have expressed concern about Singapore's recently passed fake news law, which critics say could limit free speech. Alphabet's Google said it was worried the law would hurt innovation and the growth of the digital information ecosystem.
Also, Singapore only has a single local "unicorn" - a startup worth over $1 billion - in ride-hailing company Grab. That information comes from researchers at CBInsights.
Indonesia has four such "unicorns:" taxi app Go-Jek, travel website Traveloka, and market places Bukalapak and Tokopedia. Hong Kong has two, in online travel agency Klook and logistics business Lalamove.
At a time of tensions between the United States and China, Singapore seems to be on neutral ground while still enjoying free trade with both. Last year, the city-state added a free trade deal with the European Union.
Political issues also threaten to pull Hong Kong further under China's influence, which should help Singapore, noted one banker.
For Bragiel, any concerns he had about Singapore almost 10 years ago are long forgotten.
"Silicon Valley attracts the whole world; Singapore is catching up," he said.
I'm John Russell.
1.technology businesses 科技企业
Unlike liftmaking, most building-technology businesses are still highly fragmented.
2.catching up 赶上
You'd better drive faster, because the others are catching up quickly.
3.free trade 自由贸易
I support your advocacy of free trade.
4.trade deal 贸易协议
They have been negotiating a bilateral trade deal.
5.Yet a number of issues remain.
a number of 一些；若干
We have lived here quite a number of years.
The police rounded up a number of suspects.
6.At a time of tensions between the United States and China, Singapore seems to be on neutral ground while still enjoying free trade with both.
At a time of 在...时候
Customers are drawing in their horns at a time of high interest rates.
The child enters the world at a time of promise and opportunity for our two nations.
美国投资者保罗·布拉吉尔(Paul Bragiel)表示，在受邀三四次后才决定接受新加坡的邀请，参观该国的高新技术产业 。
布拉吉尔于2010年从美国出发，行程近1.3万公里 。他说，当时的新加坡成为亚洲领先科技中心的机会“至少可以说是渺茫的” 。
布拉吉尔表示，“政府提供给我们一份非常激进的协议 。很少有国家能做到这一点 。”他还考虑过在香港和东京进行亚洲扩张，然后在2011年帮助在新加坡成立了金门创投公司 。路透社(Reuters)报道称，他不愿透露协议条款 。
金门创投是一家风险投资公司 。该公司将投资者与初创公司和其他企业联系起来 。
邻近的泰国、印尼、菲律宾和马来西亚的互联网用户每天在移动互联网上花费4小时或更长时间 。这些信息来自社交媒体平台Hootsuite 2018年的一项研究 。
包括科技公司在内的信息通信行业约占其中的4% 。但据上周发布的信息显示，该行业的增长速度超过了其他行业 。
2019年前三个月，信息和通信行业增长约6.6% 。在新加坡的九大行业中，紧随其后的是金融和保险业，增幅为3.2% 。
Chng Kai Fong是新加坡经济发展局(EDB)的常务董事 。该机构属于政府部门，负责协商本地公司与外国投资者之间的交易 。
他表示，现在希望吸引“绝地大师”，即高水平的技术人员入驻新加坡 。在这些“绝地大师”的帮助下，他希望新加坡最终能成为一个重要的高新技术中心 。
目前很难获得与新加坡经济发展局谈判的协议细节 。知名公司、顾问和官员表示，政府要求企业签署保密协议 。
然而，仍然存在一些问题 。一些科技公司对新加坡最近通过的假新闻法表示担忧，批评人士称，该法有可能限制言论自由 。Alphabet的谷歌表示，它担心该法律会损害创新和数字信息生态系统的发展 。
此外，新加坡只有一家本土的“独角兽”公司——出租车公司Grab，一家市值超过10亿美元的初创公司 。这些信息由CBInsights的研究人员提供 。
印尼有四家这样的“独角兽”公司：出租车应用Go-Jek、旅游网站Traveloka，以及Bukalapak和Tokopedia市场 。香港地区有两家，分别是在线旅行社Klook和物流公司Lalamove 。
在中国和美国关系紧张之际，新加坡似乎保持着中立，同时仍然享受着与两国的自由贸易 。去年，新加坡加入了与欧盟的《自由贸易协定》 。