Singapore is a modern day David in a world of Goliaths and innovation driven by startups has been key to its recent success as a global capital for emerging maritime technology. Historically, the city has been a bridge between East and West, with its strategic geographical position making it an important port of call for many centuries. As news, ideas and technology spread around the world, they often travelled via Singapore, making the city an economic, cultural and technological hub.
Since the modern city was founded, its growth has been fuelled at least in part by immigration. This is hugely beneficial for innovation as it makes it easier to pull together teams with diverse experience to work on new ideas.
Further, with migrants more than twice as likely to start a company than non migrants, Singapore’s high immigrant population also lends itself naturally to entrepreneurship. These demographic factors, combined with the city state’s small geographic size, make it a startup cluster like no other. Singapore uses size to its advantage, leveraging the power of proximity alongside business friendly tax laws and its reputation as a centre of finance to become a startup magnet, attracting entrepreneurs and early stage businesses from around the world.
The maritime industry is no exception to this, the sector employs 170,000 people and contributes 7% of the country’s GDP. The combination of Singapore’s maritime industry and strong startup culture makes it a natural home for startups wanting to build solutions for the industry.
The local maritime technology ecosystem is heavily driven by government funding and institutions. In collaboration with NUS Enterprise, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore runs Pier71, a startup innovation programme that helps startups to establish partnerships with local corporates who have specific challenges that need solving. In addition, in recent years the Singapore government has made it much easier to form venture capital funds, and even co-invests heavily in early stage deep tech startups.
The Singapore startup ecosystem has become so rich that a number of major corporate interests in maritime, such as Eastern Pacific Shipping have started their own startup accelerator programmes or become active investors in the space.
Singapore’s maritime information technology market is forecast to turn over $2.5 billion USD in 2021 and achieve a 7.9% growth rate to 2030, making the sector worth $4.9 billion USD by the end of the decade. Today, the technology sector makes up around a tenth of the overall maritime industry, but its relative contribution is set to almost double to become one fifth of Singapore’s maritime economy by 2030.
The ecosystem is not perfect however, access to talent and the ability to fully commercialise emerging technology are barriers to industry growth. But Singapore has some unique opportunities ahead of it, including becoming a centre for R&D into zero emission bunkers, and a global hub for technology companies that has full access to Asian, European, and American markets.
In this free report, co-authored by our partners at Startup Wharf and sponsored by Inmarsat:
- We explore what makes Singapore’s innovation ecosystem such a magnet to the world’s maritime startups
- We discuss the dynamics of Singapore’s maritime industry including the role of government, corporates, and academia in enabling entrepreneurs
- We look at the Singapore maritime technology markets current and future size and analyse the key opportunities and risks for the burgeoning startup ecosystem