The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a severe impact on the economies of almost all South Asian countries. Singapore being no exception. The lockdown and social distancing measures stifled the local consumption, and the global environmental challenges also affected this island nation, which is mostly dependent on exports. However, despite the dampening economy, the Singapore startup ecosystem witnessed over US$3 Billion funding spread across more than 200 deals.
Singapore startup ecosystem in 2020
Singapore’s effective legal system, government support & business regulations, well-developed infrastructure, highly skilled workforce, and vibrant ecosystem have always been attractive factors to international entrepreneurs.
The COVID-19 outbreak this year uprooted many aspects of daily life, and much of the economy made around it. But opportunities always come out of the crisis. Singapore’s startup ecosystem saw some great funding deals, and the government declared a $ 150 million boost amid the pandemic for the Startup SG Founder Program to aid the startup tech sector.
The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for many companies to pivot to new opportunities. The startups in the retail, food, and technology industries have been working to develop business models around the changing environment caused by the pandemic.
Singapore startup ecosystem – Top funding deals in 2020
AMTD Digital, headquartered in Singapore, is a subsidiary of an investment firm, AMTD group in Hong Kong. The company managed to raise US$ 285 million in September 2020 from its value partners and other investors. AMTD Digital offers integrated digital solutions, including digital banking, digital asset exchange, digital insurance, digital remittance, and payments across South East Asia.
PropertyGuru, a property sales platform based in Singapore, managed to raise US$220 million recently from private equity giants and global investment firms. The company plans to use this funding to further its strategic areas of growth. Another startup that managed to raise colossal funding despite the pandemic was Livespace, home interiors, and renovation platform. The company raised US$ 90 million in funding led by a Switzerland-based investment firm Kharis Capital and Venturi Partners, which is an investment platform in India and Southeast Asia.
A marketplace startup, Carousell secured the US$80 million funding from a consortium of companies. The company offers a varied range of products across various categories, including lifestyle, cars, gadgets, and fashion accessories. After the pandemic outbreak, the company had launched various regional initiatives that included providing free-ads to non-profit organizations and government agencies worth US $2 million.
An investment fund, Beacon, in September 2020, announced an investment vehicle, Beacon Fund to invest in female entrepreneurs in the emerging markets of Southeast Asia. The initial target of the company is US$50 million, and it has already managed to raise 25% of its target.
The healthcare and biomedical sciences sector in Singapore have also been infused with a significant amount. It continues to find ways to alleviate the problems caused by this pandemic and prepare for any future health crisis.
Growth of EdTech startups accelerated with pandemic
The EdTech sector in the Singapore startup ecosystem has also received a boost since the pandemic has accelerated the online and remote learning platform. Singapore’s first EdTech accelerator, EduSpaze immediately compiled a bank of useful edtech resources and tools for the pandemic.
Another platform for online education, Tenpoy made active efforts to reach out to parents and students during the lockdown and witnessed a 100% increase in their student base since March. In June 2020, the company signed an MOU with AMKFSC community services to provide free teaching services to children from the underprivileged sections for students from primary 3 to secondary 2. Tenpoy provides not only regular live online classes but also provides free homework materials and recorded lessons.
Travel and Tourism witnessed an unprecedented blow
The tourism industry of Singapore contributes 4% to the economy. However, this sector was battered due to the pandemic. With safety and inclusivity being the top priorities being looked at in the post-pandemic world, startups like Travelstop and Vouch are staking on their AI-powered systems as Singapore navigates new security measures.
As the economy begins to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, AI-based systems could be very useful for this sector. Fooyo, a Singaporean startup, creates customized itinerary planners that include monitoring events and attractions in real-time.
The Singapore Tourism Board has rolled out many new initiatives to further support the tourism business during these challenging times.
Singapore Startup Ecosystem – On The Path Of Recovery
Startup developments in the latter part of the year continue to strengthen and validate the Singapore startup ecosystem. Considering the times, innovation and technology will be the key growth drivers for the country’s startup scene to thrive further.
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