How is the Singaporean work culture

Is Singapore the Silicon Valley of Southeast Asia?

Innovation & research

Singapore is number one in the 2019 World Economic Forum's competitiveness ranking - ahead of the US and Hong Kong. The island and city state south of Malaysia is also an important location for innovations and new ideas. So it's no wonder that large (and small) companies from all over the world are settling in the tiger state.


(Photo: Tomas /

Many people in a small space: Singapore has 5.6 million inhabitants - and that in an area that is just the size of Hamburg (around 1.8 million people live there). Futuristic buildings, modern skyscrapers and a lot of green therefore shape the cityscape. The laws in Singapore are strict, but parliamentary democracy still prevails there. The government's economic policy (one and the same party has ruled there for more than 50 years) is pragmatic: “Officially, capitalism rules. The low taxes have lured countless banks and companies into the country, ”said a report by Deutschlandfunk Kultur. In addition, the tiger state is benefiting from the decline of Hong Kong, the economy has been booming for years and the innovation hype continues unchecked. The Handelsblatt even described Singapore as “Asia's model country”.

Around 900 patent applications per year come to one million inhabitants (in this country there are only just over 300), according to the Industrieanzeiger. And almost half of its exports are high-tech products. This is not least due to the efforts of the government. For example, as part of the “Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan 2020” project, it supports public research in the field of “Advanced Manufacturing” - that is, innovative technologies such as Industry 4.0 - with two billion euros. The government is also investing another 2.5 billion euros in the areas of health sciences and biomedicine.

"Smart Nation Singapore"

In addition, the country wants to become a “smart nation” and launched a corresponding initiative back in 2014. “Singapore offers the best conditions for digital innovations. Forward-looking political planning, paired with excellent infrastructure in a limited space, make the city-state a field of experimentation for new technologies, "says Katharina Naumann, program manager for digitization at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, in a country report on Singapore. In the meantime, for example, many administrative procedures can be carried out digitally; the digital health record has existed since 2015. The government is also promoting the development of self-driving buses. Some of them are already on the road on university campuses.

Many global companies appreciate Singapore's innovative strength. Siemens opened a digitization hub in the tiger state about three years ago. Together with its customers from Southeast Asia, the company is developing innovations in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. “Singapore is one of the most important economies in the world. It stands for excellence, long-term planning and progressive thinking. Siemens will be a key partner to support Singapore on its way to the new digital economy, ”said Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens AG, on founding the hub. By 2022, up to 300 experts from different disciplines are to work in the digitization hub. Among other things, you develop innovative mobility solutions, solutions for smart buildings or a software platform for energy management.

(Not) an electric car and a research center

James Dyson has also recognized the great potential of Singapore. He announced last year that he would be moving the headquarters of his company Dyson from Great Britain to the island and city-state. The move to the new headquarters, the St James Power Station, is scheduled for 2021. The technology company, best known for its bagless vacuum cleaners, actually wanted to produce its electric car in Singapore as well. The project ultimately failed because of the high costs, the department for automotive development was dissolved, reported the FAZ: “We no longer see any possibility of achieving profitability (of the project). We were seriously looking for a buyer for the project, which unfortunately has remained unsuccessful to this day, ”said James Dyson in an email to his staff. Now they want to work on new technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and batteries. For the entrepreneur and inventor, Singapore is evidently not just a place to work, but also to live: He bought the tallest and most expensive penthouse there - including an infinity pool.

The Dyson electric car wasn't economical.

Evonik sees a place for innovative and future-oriented research in Singapore. In 2018, the specialty chemicals company opened a resource efficiency research center there. It is located in Biopolis, Singapore's research city. Scientists and engineers from all over the world come together there. "This center is ideally located to drive innovations for our Resource Efficiency segment and to develop future-oriented solutions and technologies for our customers worldwide," said Dr. Claus Rettig, CEO of Evonik Resource Efficiency, explained the choice of location. "In addition, we want to offer our employees an inspiring and creative research environment that promotes an agile and flexible working culture."

With robots against Corona

In the fight against Covid-19, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used in Singapore - among other measures. Spot, a robot dog, runs through parks, for example, and reminds visitors of the distance rules, reported the Tagesschau in May. But he is not traveling all alone. There is an officer in the control center who controls Spot from there. If the AI ​​is well received by the citizens, the robot should also patrol autonomously in the future.