Expanding your Web Company to Asia? Consider Singapore via the IDA

(Left: Teo Yi Wei, Jeremiah Owyang, Wong Peng Wai at the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore)

While in Singapore a few weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity to meet with the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), a group that is a Public Service Company, an interesting mix between public and private sector with around 1000 employees. Their Charter from their about page:

“The strategic goal of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is to cultivate a vibrant and competitive infocomm industry in Singapore – one that attracts foreign investment and sustains long-term GDP growth through innovative infocomm technology development, deployment and usage in Singapore – in order to enhance the global economic competitiveness of Singapore”

As I understand it, IDA has three major components, the Telecom group, the FCC type of group, and the InfoComm group. They’ve also got a substantial fund (400mil) in funding base to invest in companies. They’re focusing on a lot of incentives for busineses to move to Singapore, and are strongly encouraging business growth.

I was invited to one of the sky rises (SunTec tower Three) in the downtown area to visit them on the towering building, why? I made some inquires to find out more about how web companies can do business in Asia. During the hour long meeting, I got to understand that they’re seeking to develop companies and growth in Singapore (a very wealthy nation, that has focus on international business). Singapore is a business hub, strategically situated between Asia and the Middle East.

Specifically, we had discussions around web companies and how they can do business with Singapore. IDA is seeking to work with companies that are ready to grow into other parts of Asia (HK, Taiwan, Beijing, Japan, India) as Singapore is a great first hub, as it’s business friendly, affluent, clean, and English speaking. Singapore is also host to international talent, this thriving of culture is not unlike the SF bay area.

The downsides of doing business in Singapore? It’s very competitive, and the market moves at a fast rate. I’d also you’ll need to acclimated to heat and humidity.

I also learned they have an office in Redwood Shores in Silicon Valley, I hope to meet up with them soon. I spent just a short week like in Singapore, and there’s three words I can describe it is as: Immaculate, Efficient and Polite. Some expressed a somewhat cultural heaviness from the government, who’s now trying to relax their image after looking heavy handed.

So what are the next steps to expand your web business to Singapore and then the rest of Asia:
Here’s what they told me:

1) Visit the offices in SF, Shanghai, Bangalore, and Qatar, here’s a list of all their offices. The job of the IDA is to bridge and connect you to the network in Singapore to get started

2) Like I did, visit Singapore, and get a tour, perhaps attend some of the upcoming tech conferences such as the Global Enteropolis and Global Enterpreneurs.com or IX.

I recommend you check out my various blog posts on Singpaore, and my Singapore Flickr pictures to learn about this wonderful country, I can’t wait to return. If I got any of the facts wrong about IDA, feel free to leave a comment below.

Update: TDM Group has created a wiki with a list of Web 2.0 resources.

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