Singapore seeks closer ties with Israel

Since both countries are high-tech nations with small populations, they have to turn to broader markets to expand and thrive.


Singapore is looking to increase its investments in Israel, and serve as a bridge to the wider Asian market.

A guest swims in the infinity pool of the Skypark that tops the Marina Bay Sands hotel towers in Singapore. – Photo: REUTERS

“We notice there’s a gap down there. Israeli companies don’t come to Asian that often. We realized that this is an opportunity for us,” said Alex Lim, Global Head of Infocomm Investments (IIPL), a new $200 million Singaporean Government backed fund to invest in start-ups & 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 high-tech nations with small populations, meaning they have to turn to broader markets. For Israel, he said, the US may seem a natural choice, 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 alone have a population over double that of the US, and a consuming class that’s nearly twice as large.

Despite differences of language in culture in the ten countries, Lim says, the consuming class is fairly homogeneous among them.

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, notes that Singaporean investors have already made investments in some major Israeli start-ups, such as 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 see 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. Over the next year, you’re going to see a lot more Singaporeans around,” said Seal.


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