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MOUs signed to help Singapore, French enterprises connect, innovate

MORE connections between the startup and innovation ecosystems in France and Singapore could be on the way after a number of freshly signed memoranda of understanding between Singapore and French institutions.

The signings were witnessed by Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, who is on a visit to Brussels and Paris from July 11 to 13.

Under one agreement, signed between Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB), Enterprise Singapore and France's ESSEC Business School, the business school with campuses in Singapore and France will conduct immersion programmes to help Singapore-based startups access the innovation and startup ecosystem in France, and also help French startups access Singapore's market.

The programmes will include a preparatory course to familiarise participants with the business and innovation environment in France followed by a trip to the country.

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“ESSEC’s long tradition in entrepreneurship and innovation, coupled with our historical roots in France and fast-growing international presence in Singapore, make ESSEC a natural champion for bridging the business communities of these important countries,” said Professor Kevyn Yong, dean of ESSEC Asia-Pacific. “We aim to provide an open platform to help businesses exchange knowledge, ideas, and identify talent; and in so doing, foster cross-border collaborations to drive innovation.”

Another MOU will see local innovation accelerator Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and French startup incubator Creative Valley support French and Singapore startups and help them gain a foothold in their respective markets.

The two MOUs fall under the Global Innovation Alliance, which was launched last year to strengthen Singapore's links to innovation hubs around the world and to create more opportunities for Singaporeans students, entrepreneurs and businesses to connect and collaborate with their overseas counterparts and gain overseas experience.

Enterprise Singapore also signed an MOU with French public bank Bpifrance. 

This partnership will support French and Singapore companies in joint innovation projects and business expansions in the other market and explore ways to help Singapore companies get funding from Enterprise Singapore's grants or through Bpifrance's financing options. Networking platforms like Bpifrance’s EuroQuity, an online matchmaking platform launched in 2008 that connects companies with investors and partners; and Enterprise SG’s Startup SG Network to be launched in the third quarter of this year, will also be involved in bringing the two entrepreneurship communities closer.

Minister Chan said in a statement: “The partnerships signed today represent Singapore’s continued commitment to deepen the innovation linkages between France and Singapore, as part of the France-Singapore Year of Innovation (YOI) 2018. Innovation is core to our competitive advantage. Such global linkages will allow us to better capture opportunities from digitalisation and other emerging technologies. It will also enable our people to learn from expertise from around the world and bolster our companies’ efforts to internationalise.” Jonathan Lim, Enterprise Singapore’s Director for Startup and GIA, said: “The partnerships aim to boost Singapore’s startup ecosystem by promoting exchange between French and Singaporean startups, especially in deeptech. Similarly, we hope to establish more collaborations between French enterprises and Singaporean startups to co-create and co-innovate solutions for Europe and Asia.”