More Singapore start-ups scale up in India – the gateway to Asia, Europe

Press and Media   |   
Published August 28, 2023   |   
The Straits Times

Date: August 27, 2023

Source: The Straits Times

BENGALURU/CHENNAI – More Singapore start-ups are setting up offices in India to scale up their technology in a large and diverse market that is fast becoming a gateway to Asia and Europe.

From satellite mapping and AI-enabled data analysis to cleaning and e-waste recycling, at least 300 Singapore start-ups have entered India since 2019, according to Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG), an agency championing enterprise development under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The linguistic and regional diversity of India’s 1.42 billion people offers Singapore’s early-stage entrepreneurs ample opportunities to deepen their capabilities and test their products on a varied consumer base.

EnterpriseSG, formed in 2018 to help small and medium-sized Singapore companies innovate and internationalise, has seen a steady increase in interest in India. In 2022, it supported 100 Singapore companies to seek new opportunities in the market, up more than 40 per cent from pre-Covid-19 levels in 2019.

“As India continues to urbanise and become more digitally competitive, it has increasingly become an attractive market for companies operating in the infrastructure development, manufacturing, and lifestyle and consumer sectors,” said Mr G. Jayakrishnan, an executive director overseeing EnterpriseSG’s work in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

“Tech innovations and sustainability solutions, which cut across all sectors, are also top-of-mind for Singapore companies looking to enter the market and capitalise on new government initiatives catalysing growth in the digital and green economy.” Multinational conglomerates already in India are “an important pool of customers” for Singapore start-ups, he added.

Digitally savvy labour pool

India’s young population, 65 per cent of whom are under 35 years old, is an enormous digitally savvy market and labour pool. Over 1.5 million engineers graduate in India every year.

“I won’t be able to employ 180 engineers in Singapore. I can do it only in India,” said Mr Suresh V. Shankar, co-founder of big data analytics company Crayon Data, pointing at the dozens of young men and women working in its colourful open-layout office in Chennai.

The 11-year-old Singapore company uses artificial intelligence to analyse data and personalise services for global clients such as banks, credit card companies and fintechs, including Visa, India’s HDFC Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. As the volume of work grew, Crayon set up a data analysis centre in the South Indian city in 2019.

“The average age of our employees is now under 27. Many joined us straight after graduating, while in Singapore, the hiring would have been more lateral, of employees from other companies, and so more expensive,” said Crayon co-founder Aarti Ramakrishnan, who leads the India operations.

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