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Singapore changes rules to attract foreign entrepreneurs

Singapore is easing the rules on its EntrePass scheme for foreign entrepreneurs and will boost financing schemes for technology sector startups, to position itself as an attractive location for new businesses.08 Mar 2017

Koh Poh Koon, minister of state for trade and industry told Singapore's parliament that "We need a strong talent pool, comprising capable entrepreneurs who can contribute to our local startup scene. Given Singapore's small size, we need to remain open to promising global talent."

Foreign entrepreneurs "complement our local startups through the cross-fertilisation of ideas, catalyse new partnerships and create good jobs for our people. As at 2015, foreign startups employed more than 19,000 workers in total," Koh said.

Entry and renewal criteria for the EntrePass scheme, set up in 2003 to allow foreign startups to set up business in Singapore, will now be changed. A requirement for capital of S$50,000 (£29,000) will be dropped, and the evaluation criteria broadened. The pass will also now be extended to two years if the entrepreneur can show progress after the first year. Subsequent renewals will be valid for two years.

Equity financing will also be changed to help "deep-tech" startups in sectors such as medical technology, clean technology and advanced manufacturing to grow, Koh said.

"Compared to infocomm technology or ICT startups that develop online applications or web portals, startups that develop non-ICT, or deep-tech, technologies typically require higher capital outlay and a much longer commercialisation runway, due to the prototyping process and product trials they need to undergo," he said.

The government will therefore double the investment cap for co-investment from S$2 million to S$4 million, and the proportion of the government's co-investment funding support will increase 50% to 70%. 

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