Multinational corporations play an important role in Singapore’s early economic development. They continue to contribute significantly with their huge investments, job creation, and as a source of technological transfer to local companies. They are attracted in large part by Singapore’s strategic location, a transparent legal and regulatory framework, good infrastructure, high level of connectivity, and a well-educated workforce.
Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have also been contributing to the economic strength of Singapore, making up to 99 percent of companies, employing 70 percent of the workforce, and contributing to 50 percent of the GDP. For this reason, the government has proactively supported them locally and assisting them in scouting for overseas markets. Spring Singapore, Information Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), and National Research Foundation (NRF) are some governmental agencies assisting SMEs with measures to upgrade their skills, and increase their productivity, competitiveness and growth. To pave the way for their expansion overseas, International Enterprise Singapore has been assisting them with penetration of overseas markets.
During the past decade, there has been much emphasis on the need to nurture a vibrant start-up ecosystem in Singapore to bolster the pool of local enterprises and to spur economic growth and innovation. Financing in the form of government grants and loans are now available to support start-ups with innovative ideas and products. To assemble a critical mass of start-ups to encourage the flow of ideas, JTC launched its LaunchPad@one-north in 2011, which has since grown from one to three blocks in the One-North precinct, with expected increase in 2017 to 6 blocks capable of housing 750 start-ups. It is encouraging to note that, in terms of talent, Singapore has surpassed Silicon Valley as a startup ecosystem. Taking into consideration other factors such as performance, funding, market reach, and start-up experience, Singapore is now ranked 12th globally in 2017. (The 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report by Startup Genome)
Entrepreneurship is certainly alive in SMU! With many alumni and student businesses in SMU, a group of passionate individuals, many successful entrepreneurs in their own right, came together in January 2016 to nurture an entrepreneurship ecosystem at SMU. Known as SMUpreneurs, it fosters a network for aspiring and successful entrepreneurs. Its various initiatives include workshops and networking sessions varying from fintech, media, technology, etc., involving angels, venture capitalists, private equity firms and industry partners, to enable SMU start-ups to connect and grow. To strengthen and keep alumni businesses connected, it launched a listing of SMU alumni businesses in April 2016 (see https://alumni.smu.edu.sg/alumnibusinesses). The directory tracks more than 225 alumni firms, and categorises them into 10 broad areas such as Food & Beverage, Finance & Consulting, Tech, Education, etc.
SMU alumni have also been doing their part in fostering an entrepreneurial culture amongst students. To ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship, and support the growth of an entrepreneurship ecosystem in SMU, two alumni donated a sum of $1 million in October 2015 to start a P.A.K. (Passion-Adventure-Kickstart) Entrepreneurship Fund as an “investment into the future of our students and in nurturing entrepreneurial talent”. The fund will be used to fund an Incubator, and an annual business plan competition.
Silicon Valley (SV) has been, for a long time, widely acknowledged as the “leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation and development”. Times are slowly changing with many more start-up eco-systems blossoming across the globe. Silicon Wadi, an area around Tel Aviv on the country’s coastal plain is one of them. In the 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, it was ranked 6th globally. It has a heavy concentration of high-tech industries that rivals the San Francisco Bay Area’s cluster of innovative firms, with some 2,900 located within a 10-mile radius.
To inspire entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, School of Accountancy will be organizing a Study Mission to Israel/Jordan in April/May 2018 under the SMU-X programme. Whilst there, students will visit start-ups and learn from the experiences of entrepreneurs. This immersion in the Silicon Wadi ecosystem could be a spark in their entrepreneurial endeavors. The visit will provide opportunities to learn about business models and processes used by start-ups, and how they generate business ideas and bring them to market. The course will require students to research and write cases on start-ups. It will also be unique in that student delegates will be accompanied by alumni entrepreneurs. The latter will serve as mentors on projects to be undertaken by students as part of academic coursework.
It is envisaged that participants will learn the following from the Study Mission:
- Understand and able to critique the business models of the start-ups visited.
- Reflect on the key factors determining success and failures of start-ups
- Evaluate whether the factors are applicable to Singapore and the region
- Understand the processes used by start-ups from their inception to Serial-A funding.
- Reflect on the key attributes of successful entrepreneurs
- Weigh the pros & cons of entrepreneurship versus corporate life.
- Be “infected” with the entrepreneurial spirit
The course comprises 2 components:
- Seminar sessions in Singapore for preparatory research and discussion
- Study Mission to Israel/Jordan which will be from 27 April - 8 May 2017
Note: All seminar sessions and the Study Mission are compulsory. Failure to undertake the trip will result in a failed grade.
The research on start-ups must comprise an in-depth analysis of the issues. Before the trip, project teams will be required to communicate with the start-up entrepreneurs, research into the issues peculiar to the respective start-ups, and make preliminary presentations of their research to the class as well as entrepreneurs invited to class seminars. From inputs from class/invited entrepreneurs, the reports may be refined. Project groups should endeavor to complete a substantial part of their research before the trip. During the trip, teams will make presentations of their research findings and perspectives to the start-up entrepreneurs.
Project reports encompassing learnings arising from the trip, and reflections from the start-up visits, should be submitted within 10 days of return from the trip.
COST OF STUDY TRIP PAYABLE
Each student will be charged S$4,470 which includes
- Return economy airfare
- Hotel accommodation on twin-sharing basis
- All meals
- Transport & logistical arrangement for company visits and other organised activities
- Sight-seeing and admission tickets
- Trip Brochure
- Name cards
- Travel Insurance