In the last 10 years, Australian entrepreneurs have been looking to Singapore’s dynamic market to launch business ventures and start-ups. However, entrepreneurs and start-ups have only just begun shaking up the landscape.

With a concentrated focus on innovation and technology in both Australia and Singapore, the time to innovate is now. As a global Innovation Nation, Singapore is an ideal gateway for Australian companies to expand into Asia.

Although we pay lip service to expansion into Asia, in reality, our progress is slow. This year, the Turnbull Government announced the NISA initiative, in an effort to drive innovation and R&D in Australia. Yet to truly leverage innovation, we need to expand our reach regionally and globally.

As our regional neighbour, Singapore is ideally positioned as a gateway to Asia. Although it has an economy five times smaller than Australia, Singapore recently announced an $18 billion investment in R&D across five years – an investment significantly larger than Australia’s NISA initiative.

Benefits of doing business in Singapore

1. Singapore is a technology hub

Singapore is a world-class technology hub. It’s the world’s first “Smart Nation” – a country unified by a nationwide sensor network, connecting people, technologies and communities like never before.

2. Free economy

The 2016 Index of Economic Freedom ranks Singapore as one of the freest economies in the world, alongside Hong Kong and Switzerland. It’s a global commerce, finance and business centre, with more than 7000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan and Europe.

3. A cornerstone for development

This positions Singapore as a cornerstone for regional and global development, with much untapped potential for Australian companies to bring their products and services to market. Singapore has shown growing interest in Australia as a key place for breeding and nurturing some of the world’s best technologies and innovations.

How to expand into Singapore

Step 1: Get immersed

Australian technology companies need to gain first-hand experience and taste of Singapore’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem. A key way to unearth Singapore as a launching pad is to get immersed. For example, to unearth Australia’s up and coming tech talent in the right places and networks, Gemstar takes companies to Singapore for Trade Missions and TechVentures. Last year’s TechVenture was the first time in the conference’s 20 year history that Australia was formally showcased – and Gemstar was invited back in 2016, to introduce more budding Australian talent. As one of Australia’s top investors, Singapore’s vision is to build stronger business partnerships with Australia. We need to align ourselves with this vision and make it a reality.

Step 2: Determine your strategic angle

The right strategic framework is crucial to lasting success. Companies need to identity what differentiates their brand, product and/or service from others. Ask yourself: what is your target market? Who is your target customer? How will your product or service enrich people’s lives? You will need to conduct research into your target markets, customers, development opportunities and potential sources of investment and funding.

Step 3: Tell the right story

To effectively implement your business strategy, you need to tell the right story. Storytelling is often not the cornerstone of business strategy for entrepreneurs, who tend to focus more on their technologies and services. However, to sell these products and services, it’s crucial to form an emotional connection with your target audience. To achieve traction with your target market, you need to profile your company as the one to do business with. Create a clear, concise and authentic story that resonates with your audience and nurtures emotional investment in your brand. Ensure that your story showcases what differentiates your brand, how you will leverage regional growth opportunities, and why your technology is relevant to the market.

Step 4: Build a presence and profile

Once you have opportunities underway and partnership in place, keep building a distinct presence and profile. Networking in Singapore will open up opportunities to connect with influential investors, partners and customers, fast-tracking your progress regionally and globally. After getting immersed in Singapore and then returning to Australia, it can be easy to lose momentum. Establishing a dual presence across Australia and Singapore is a sure-fire way to further growth. Gemstar has recently set up an Innovation Centre of Excellence as a hub for Australian companies looking to create a concrete presence in Singapore. Having a presence on the ground is a low-risk and highly effective path to business success.