A guest swims in the infinity pool of the Skypark that tops the Marina Bay Sands hotel towers in Singapore.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Singapore is looking to increase its investments in Israel and serve as a bridge to the wider Asian market.
“We notice there’s a gap down there. Israeli companies don’t come to Asia that often. We realized that this is an opportunity for us,” said Alex Lim, the global head of Infocomm Investments (IIPL), a new $200 million Singaporean government- backed fund to invest in start-ups and growth-stage companies around the world.
Lim, who was part of a business delegation in Israel last week, said Israel’s expertise in a variety of fields such as big data, smart cities and cyber security were an attractive draw for the city-state, which shares several commonalities with Israel.
Both are hi-tech nations with small populations, meaning they have to turn to broader markets. For Israel, the US may seem a natural choice, Lim said, but Asia has a lot to offer.
“It’s always easy to go the US, but the US is getting very crowded, so they have to open up and start looking at other places,” he said.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries have a population more than double that of the United States and a consuming class that is nearly twice as large.
Despite differences of language in culture in the 10 countries, the consuming class is fairly homogeneous among them, Lim said.
The delegation, which continued alongside its Israeli counterparts to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, was in Israel in part to drum up support for a large conference in Singapore at the end of April, InnovFest UnBound.
Daniel Seal, the CEO of AcreWhite, which helped organize the delegation, said Singaporean investors have already made investments in some major Israeli start-ups, including PlayBuzz, Volera and Tracx.
“The news here is that Singapore is really aggressively looking to strengthen the relationship in the business- tech sector,” he said.
“They sees themselves as the Jews of Asia.”
Singapore’s Tourism Board, which actively seeks business ties as part of its mission, is behind the venture as well.
“They’re going to start actively investing more,” Seal said. “Over the next year, you’re going to see a lot more Singaporeans around.”