• Douglas Abrams

Media and IDM entrepreneurship in Singapore

In 2009, Singapore is one of the best places in the world for a media or interactive and digital media (IDM) entrepreneur to start or grow their business. Despite its small size,

Singapore offers tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs in general and for media entrepreneurs specifically.


Opportunities in Singapore for early and growth stage companies

  • Public policies promoting entrepreneurship and venture capital – Many initiatives have been made in areas such as education, facilities, regulations and financing to turn Singapore into a technopreneurship and venture capital hub in Asia.

  • Public policies supporting the venture capital industry. The private equity/venture capital industry in Singapore has grown substantially over the past 2 decades. Funds under management grew from about US$20 million in 1983 to more than US$10 billion in 2006, managed by 160 VC firms[i].

  • A business friendly environment. Singapore ranks #11 in the world for starting a business and #1 in the world for doing business, due to its positive regulatory business environment.[ii] A new business can be established within six days (the average for the region is 46 days, and 16.6 for OECD countries) for less than 1% of average per capita income (the average for the region is 42.8%, and 5.3% for OECD countries)[iii] Singapore is ranked #2 in the world as a Network Ready Country[iv], #1 in the world in Labor Force[v], #1 in Asia and #4 in the world in Investment Incentives[vi] and #2 in the world in Investment Potential[vii].

  • Strong IP protection regime and corporate governance. Singapore has been voted the most IP-protective country in Asia, with the best corporate governance and the least corruption for the last two years[viii]. IP protection is especially important for IDM start-ups, where content may form an important part of their competitive advantage.

  • Strategic location. Singaporean start-ups are uniquely positioned to address one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing markets, consisting of countries within a 7-hour flight-time radius from Singapore - including China, Indonesia, Korea, and Japan.

Opportunities in Singapore for media entrepreneurs

Beyond these advantages for entrepreneurs in general, Singapore is especially attractive for media entrepreneurs. The outlook for the media sector in

Singapore looks to be highly favorable for the next 5-10 years due to:

  • Support for the development of the media industry by The Media Development Authority (MDA)

  • A vibrant and growing private sector in Interactive and Digital Media (IDM)

  • A strong educational and University focus on media and digital media including The Interactive and Digital Media Network at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

  • Extensive public sector research and development in interactive and digitial media, including the Singapore’s government’s National Research Foundation (NRF) investments in Interactive and Digital Media

The Media Entrepreneur’s Guide to Singapore

Despite the significant progress that has been made to date, the enterprise ecosystem for Singapore media entrepreneurs still has some gaps. There are three sources of external financing for companies: equity, debt financing and public-sector funding programs. Privately held media companies in

Singapore, especially early-stage companies have significant but unique challenges in acquiring funding from each of these sources.These challenges sparked the creation of the Media Entrepreneur’s Guide to Singapore (MEGS), a book just published by my company, Expara. 

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