DPM Lawrence Wong at the Launch of the Global Innovation Alliance New York City Node

PM Lawrence Wong | 10 October 2023

Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the launch of the Global Innovation Alliance New York City Node on 10 October 2023. DPM Wong was on a working visit to the United States of America from 5 to 15 October 2023.


My Parliamentary Colleague Mr Alvin Tan
CEO of WEVE Acceleration, Ms Frances Simowitz
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very happy to join you today for the launch of this Global Innovation Alliance node right here in New York City, and also to see many fellow Singaporeans here in New York City.

The Global Innovation Alliance is an initiative of Enterprise Singapore. Enterprise SG is a government agency that champions enterprise development in Singapore. It helps our local companies venture abroad. Of course, it goes about this work with many local partners around the world; and here in New York, we are very fortunate to work with WEVE Acceleration. Thank you for enabling us to leverage on your network of mentors and corporate connections, and to catalyse links between our start-up ecosystems. Thank you to Frances and the team once again.

Of course, it is always very nice to see so many young people and start-ups in the room. You can feel the sense of dynamism, the sense of hope for the future, and excitement about the next big game-changing idea. And that’s what start-ups are about – incubating cutting-edge solutions, pushing the frontiers of innovation, and ultimately, making the world a better place.

In Singapore, we have been steadily investing in start-ups, in research and innovation over the years. We are seeing fruits from our investments. Last year, Singapore-based tech startups raised close to US$11 billion. It is more than 40% above what they had raised in 2019, which was pre-COVID. So we are making progress. And this amount accounted for about two-thirds (64%) of the deal value across the entire Southeast Asian region. So we are a tech and start-up ecosystem, a start-up hub, for not just Singapore, but the entire region.

Of course, with our small domestic market of just 5.9 million people, there are limited opportunities for start-ups in Singapore to grow. That is why Singapore-based start-ups have to venture abroad.

And there is no better place to go to than right here in the US – New York City. Because as you heard just now, it has a huge domestic market, a large economy, a significant population base, and on top of that, you have a deep bench of talent, tech expertise, and access to capital. And all this makes New York City an ideal launch pad for start-ups from around the world.

We are already seeing a number of Singapore-based start-ups doing just that — coming here to New York and venturing forth from New York. One example is Smarten Spaces — it is a Singapore-based company that specialises in workplace management systems. The company started by introducing its AI-powered digital hybrid workplace platform to Fortune 500 companies in New York, and it has since expanded its presence to Boston and California, and its US business activities now make up close to 40% of the company’s sales.

The Global Innovation Alliance node that we are establishing today will enable many more Singapore-based start-ups to grow their presence here in America. And it will run acceleration programmes like you have heard just now to help link start-ups to potential investors and business partners here in New York who can co-develop, testbed and commercialise solutions across the entire United States.

Importantly, it will help spur collaboration between New York City and Singapore and bring our two start-up ecosystems closer together. New York City and Singapore already enjoy very close people-to-people connections – many Singaporeans visit regularly each year, whether it is for work, leisure or study. Our two financial centres collaborate closely together. And all this provides a firm foundation upon which we can deepen our linkages, and expand the economic possibilities open to us.

This New York City node will also enhance our network of partners in the Global Innovation Alliance. With this addition, we will have 18 nodes in total, from San Francisco and London, to Berlin, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai — it is all part of our GIA network. And notably, the Alliance will now have a presence in both the east and west coasts of the US, allowing it to provide more comprehensive support for Singapore companies interested in expanding across the US.

I understand we have 9 Singapore-based start-up founders here today, attending the first accelerator programme in New York City. You come from different sectors and areas of focus. But all of you share a common determination to expand your reach and to make a global impact. So let me congratulate all of you on taking this important step and wish you the very best in your enterprise journey. Let us give them a big round of applause please.

To conclude, we all know that we are entering a very different world. The era of easy money unfortunately is over — not exactly good news for start-ups, I know. Interest rates will be higher for longer, that is the reality. Meanwhile, the era of benign globalisation is over because we are in a world of great power competition. And so it is going to be a more fragmented, a more uncertain, a more volatile world. In such an environment, some countries will want to retreat and turn inward, and focus on what they can do within their own boundaries.

We have no such option in Singapore. We are just a little red dot — we have no luxury of turning inward. So our only option is to redouble our efforts to connect better to the world. And because we are small, we can be agile, we can be nimble, we can move more quickly to seize opportunities, and always continually look at ways in which we can add value to our partners and to our stakeholders. So through platforms like this Global Innovation Alliance, and through stronger partnerships with different parties around the world, we can continue to make a good living for ourselves, and we can continue to survive and thrive even in this new environment. So once again, thank you all for being here, thank you to WEVE again for this wonderful partnership, and we look forward to making this a great success for Singapore start-ups. Thank you very much.