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Taking innovation further afield

Australian startups and research institutions have benefited from Singapore's infrastructure and resources and taken their business to the next level.

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Austrade's Landing Pad programme helps ready-to-market Australian businesses enter the region with a residency at co-working space WeWork and provides strategic advice and partnership opportunities.

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Data Republic secured a sizeable investment from Singtel Innov8. From left: Danny Gilligan, co-founder of Data Republic; Edgar Hardless, CEO of Singtel Innov8; and Paul McCarney, CEO and co-founder of Data Republic.

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Through Landing Pad, CEC Systems has partnered with A*Star’s SIMTech to improve its collapsible COLLAPSECON container. From left: SIMTech director Lee Eng Wah; Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann; Steven Ciobo, former Australian minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment; and Nicholas Press, managing director and CEO at CEC Systems.

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Members of Austrade's Landing Pad cohort (from left): Christopher Burns from TRAVLR; Amber Clare from The Right Fit; Jason Edwards from Qualgro; Elaine Starkey from Global Study Partners; Australian Minister Michaelia Cash and Robert Spence from Stirling Labs.

HELP is readily available for Australian businesses that are ready to take their brilliant big ideas to Asia but may need an extra hand cracking into the market.

Landing Pad is a programme by Austrade (Australian Trade and Investment Commission), the official international trade promotion and investment attraction agency of the Australian Government, that aids market-ready startups and scaleups in entering five global innovation hubs - Singapore, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai and Berlin.

The programme has brought more than 30 startups to Singapore since its launch in early 2017.

Startups get a 90-day residency in a co-working space at WeWork, tailored business advice and introductions to strategic contacts such as investors, customers and research partners.

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Through the programme, they have access to a community that supports Australian scale-ups, entrepreneurs and innovative technologies, and can test and improve their concepts within Singapore's innovation infrastructure and leverage Austrade's in-market network to conduct business development work in South-east Asia.

"Australian companies come to Singapore because it is a regional hub for South-east Asia. It is also ranked among the best in the world for its business environment and innovation infrastructure," says Australian High Commissioner to Singapore Bruce Gosper.

"Austrade supports Australian companies by providing market intelligence, strategic advice and in-market business services. This includes arranging introductions for Australian companies to interested Singaporean partners, and hosting events and trade shows.

"We also work closely with Singaporean companies to understand their business objectives and how Australia can provide what they are looking for," says Mr Taliessin Reaburn, acting senior trade and investment commissioner for Austrade.

A company that has leveraged the Landing Pad programme with great success is Australian data sharing platform Data Republic, which opened its Singapore office in June 2018.

It provides data sharing service for organisations such as governments, banks, airlines and blue chip companies without compromising on customer privacy and security.

Within six months of its entry into Singapore, Data Republic's growth is set to soar as it has secured A$22 million (S$21.4 million) in a Series B funding round led by Innov8, Singtel's corporate venture capital arm. Singapore Airlines has also acquired a minority stake in the company.

"Our technology is already trusted by some of Australia's largest banks, airlines and governments to effectively govern privacy and data security risks while sharing data - but we recognise that maintaining this balance between data liquidity and privacy is a global challenge. Given our growth and the demands of our global clients, expanding to Singapore makes sense.

"We're looking forward to supporting the Singaporean state's ambition to be a world leader in the emerging global data economy," says Data Repulic CEO Paul McCarney.

Another company that entered Singapore via Landing Pad in July 2017 is Sydney-based industrial technology developer, CEC Systems, which works in the shipping and logistics sector.

"Singapore has always been known as a global shipping hub and for CEC Systems it is crucial that we position ourselves where the key decision makers are," says its CEO Nicholas Press.

"The programme has helped to reduce the risk and uncertainty of moving into a new market and Singapore is now CEC System's global base," he adds.

Since 2017, CEC Systems has been working with A*Star's Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) to enhance its core product COLLAPSECON C-400, a shipping container that can be collapsed and combined when empty to reduce handling, storage space and transportation costs.

A MEETING OF MINDS

Australian universities have also seen the potential of Singapore's research capabilities and stepped up opportunities for collaboration.

In September 2018, Australian National University (ANU) launched its Southeast Asia Liaison Office to foster partnerships and collaboration with higher education and research institutions and government agencies, while James Cook University launched its Tropical Futures Institute to value-add to the research ecosystem of Singapore and the region. Its first research pillar focuses on aquaculture and the next will focus on health promotion for ageing citizens.

Murdoch University's Singapore Centre for Research in Innovation, Productivity and Technology (SCRIPT) was also established to support research on various productivity challenges facing Singapore.