Funding has dried up for technology startups in Singapore since the start of this year, although PwC expects a resurgence in the near future as new opportunities emerge.
Singapore has undoubtedly been a bright spot for the global startup landscape in recent years, home to a number of ‘unicorns’ – private startups valued at more than $1 billion. PwC defines a startup as a company that has existed for less than 10 years, and currently pegs the number of tech-enabled startups in Singapore at 4,000. This figure was at 1,000 in 2014.
Stellar growth in the country’s startup landscape has drawn attention from around the world, leading many to compare it to Silicon Valley in terms of tech dominance. According to PwC’s researchers, several factors have combined to make Singapore the tech hub that it is today.“In a nutshell, it is a flourishing ecosystem providing fertile ground for start-ups, supported by a forward looking Government ensuring ease of doing business, conducive infrastructure, strong research bases at local Universities and a skilled talent pool. Singapore is often seen as a great test bed for new technologies, and the gateway to access the broader Southeast Asia market opportunity,” explained Patrick Yeo, PwC Singapore’s Venture Hub Leader.
Up until last year, the numbers were backing up this story. Funding was climbing a steep incline, amounting to more than $10 billion in 2018. However, 2019 brought the first signs of trouble for this vibrant tech hub. Money was slow to flow in last year, and the total funding for the year took a tumble.
At this point, experts were already suggesting that the tech startup market in the country had saturated. The global pandemic that followed has not helped allay these concerns. Come 2020, the decline in funds has persisted, with a subdued first half of the year sparking concerns around the health of Singapore’s startup market. According to PwC, these worries are unfounded.