(Photo: Epicenter Stockholm)

A new Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) acceleration pilot programme was launched in March to support the access of Singapore startups and tech small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into Sweden and the larger Nordic region

ENTERPRISE Singapore (ESG) has launched the GIA Stockholm Pilot Programme (Epicenter Accelerate Singapore) in Stockholm on 20th April this year in partnership with Epicenter. The GIA programme supports internationalisation and innovation amid the post-pandemic recovery.

Epicenter has the overall responsibility for running the accelerator programme in Sweden. Business Sweden identifies entrepreneurs in Singapore and innovation agency Vinnova supports the initiative in Sweden. According to a Business Sweden report: “Swedish entrepreneurs often regard Singapore as the beginning of their expansion into other emerging markets in Southeast Asia. Now we reverse the cooperation by nurturing our ecosystem with impactful ideas from Singapore, using Stockholm and the Episerver team as a scaleup factory for innovation and for producing global tech unicorns”, said Jan Larsson, CEO, Business Sweden, who had participated in the inauguration event in Stockholm together with Peter Ong Chairman of ESG, Darja Isaksson CEO of Vinnova and Patrick Mesterton CEO of Epicenter.

(Holding bouquets l to r): Mr Peter Ong Chairman of ESG and Mr Jack Melcher-Claësson Head of Accelerate at Epicenter Stockholm and (back row standing centre) Mr Jan Larsson CEO of Business Sweden (Photo: Epicenter Stockholm)

ESG Chairman Mr Peter Ong in his opening remarks at the launch said there is now greater volatility to energy and commodity supplies and financial stresses will act to prolong the path towards economic recovery. While businesses cannot prevent these developments, they can take strategic decisions to mitigate the impact from them by diversifying their markets, strengthening their supply chain, and developing new innovations to stay competitive and being agile to seize growth opportunities.

Chairman Ong said: “Helping businesses to develop these capabilities to stay resilient and competitive is part and parcel of the mandate of Enterprise Singapore. In 2021, Enterprise Singapore partnered over 22,000 Singapore enterprises to build new business capabilities, innovate and go global. The Global Innovation Alliance, or GIA, is a key initiative supporting our Singapore startups and SMEs in venturing abroad and accessing overseas business opportunities. We work with local GIA partners to run acceleration programmes, in cities like Jakarta, Bangalore, Berlin, London and San Francisco.:

For 2021, the number of companies’ participating in these GIA programmes doubled compared to 2020 and he said the GIA Stockholm Pilot will strengthen partnerships between Singapore and the Nordic countries: “As small, innovation-driven economies, Singapore and Sweden have much in common and indeed we are very much like-minded. The Nordics are at the forefront of innovation, tech and sustainability. The region has the highest number of unicorns per capita after Silicon Valley. Sweden itself is consistently ranked as a global innovation leader.

Singapore, on the other hand, is at the heart of a thriving Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem. In 2021, Singapore-based tech startups raised close to US$11 billion, almost triple the US$4 billion raised in 2020. Of the 21 unicorns that were formed in Southeast Asia in 2021, 11 are based in Singapore.

Chairman Ong also highlighted that Singapore is also making a strong push into sustainability and the Singapore government recently launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 to reinforce the commitment to sustainability: “We are supporting businesses in their decarbonisation journey, and in developing innovative solutions to accelerate sustainable transformation across all industries. I am therefore heartened that Enterprise Singapore is partnering Epicenter to run the GIA Stockholm pilot programme. With this programme, Singapore enterprises can now connect with the innovation and tech communities in the Nordics. This will accelerate their access into the region for business growth.

ESG also received strong support from Business Sweden and Vinnova for this venture and Singapore companies can look forward to both Business Sweden and Vinnova introducing the Singapore companies to key stakeholders in the Swedish innovation ecosystem and beyond for meaningful business collaboration.

ESG also welcome Swedish companies and investors to partner with and invest in startups in Singapore. They can then use Singapore as a springboard to the thriving Southeast Asia region and beyond. ESG recognised that partnerships are integral to the success of technology startups and enterprises. Singapore joined the Eureka Network as an Associate Country in May 2021 and this allows companies from both countries to participate in co-innovation projects. Chairman Ong happily noted that in the Eureka Globalstar call for collaboration in 2020, calls with Singapore clocked the highest number of all such calls.