Space business setup Singapore

Trend Analysis - 22 February 2019

Singapore: A stepping stone to the final frontier

Singapore may not be the first place that comes to mind for space technology. But there has been a steady increase – from companies building low-cost rockets to innovative tech teams in blockchain and telecommunications.

Author of article:

Dario Acconci

Managing Director - South East Asia

Kishan Singh

Head of Legal, Asia

The local space industry is growing exponentially, as more and more private companies enter the industry, bringing their products, services and ideas to the market. There are 30 companies and 1,000 staff in the industry currently, from 20 space researchers five years ago. Singapore also boasts the largest and most diverse concentration of aerospace companies in the region.

Why Singapore is an attractive location for space startups?

1. Singapore’s strategic location 

The island is situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, with access to a market of 2.8 billion people all within a few hours flight. It is also located on the equator, which offers an ideal latitude to launch rockets from. Singapore is plugged in to the world, with one of the world’s busiest ports and an airport serving over 15 million passengers annually. 

2. Singapore means business 

Known for its pro-business environment, Singapore as an attractive location for investors and entrepreneurs and attracts sizable foreign investments. Setting up a company or moving the regional headquarters to Singapore is convenient for many reasons:  The support given by the government (fiscal benefit and investment in the R&D). Singapore-based companies can access many government grants and incentives 

  • The space industry is still “young” but expanding more rapidly than in neighbouring countries. Although there is a talent crunch, the strong currency and economic stability attracts global talent. 
  • Singapore’s financial hub status attracts private investors, one of the main source of funding for startups in the space industry other than the government and military. Private investment in space reached US$3.4bn in June 2018 and is expected to increase further as institutional investors such as Morgan Stanley get in the picture. 

3. Singapore’s attractive tax system

One of Singapore’s unique advantages is its low effective personal and corporate tax rates. There are no capital gains taxes in Singapore and dividends can be distributed to shareholders tax-free. Singapore also has Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) with more than  70 countries, making it the ideal country for entrepreneurs and startups to incorporate and build their business. 

4. Robust intellectual property (IP) protection

Singapore is ranked third in the world and top in Asia for having the best IP protection in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018. This is especially important for companies in the space industry to safeguard their innovative IP, patents and brands. 

5. Established agencies to support the space industry

The Singapore Space and Technology Association (SSTA) is the most important organisation in Singapore for the space industry. It’s a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to foster the development of Singapore’s space technology industry. It organises several conventions and events during the year, the most important being the Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) hosted in February every year for over 10 years now. In this year’s event, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the SSTA and the Aeronautics Association of Indonesia (SAAI). 

There is also the Bhattacharya Space Enterprises (BSE) in Singapore, where founder Dr. Bidushi Bhattacharya, a former NASA rocket scientist, fosters a spacetech ecosystem through science projects, training workshops and community building. 

6. Strong government support

Singapore is committed to nurturing emerging industries that can continue to make the island economically relevant in the next century. 

The Economic Development Board (EDB), through its Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn), is actively helping Singapore-based space companies to speed up their growth in Asia. The 320-hectare Seletar Aerospace Park currently contributes to 10% of global maintenance, repair and overhaul output. 

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), leads the private-public research collaboration in the aerospace industry. 

7. Flexible immigration policies

An open immigration policy enables companies to relocate foreign nationals to Singapore to run and grow your business. 

8. High quality of life

Singapore offers excellent public and private transportation, quality healthcare, a safe and healthy living environment, excellent schools, and a wide diversity of cultural and educational opportunities. This makes the country a “soft landing” for global talent and their families.  

Growth of the space industry in Singapore 

According to Hawksford Singapore’s Chief Operations Officer Ms Jacqueline Low, “We are seeing an increasing number of space industry startups setting up in Singapore, from satellite and telecommunications, rocket development to block chain development. These startups are attracted to Singapore because it fosters the entrepreneurial spirit and is a conducive business environment with favourable laws and good governance.” 

Simone Placidi, Managing Director of MetaSensing Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, the Asian subsidiary of MetaSensing Group which develops radar sensors for airborne and ground based surveillance, monitoring, security and defense, confirms the fast growing space environment in Singapore.

“The NewSpace revolution we are experiencing today allows even a small country such as Singapore to be at the forefront of the Space Technology offering a very advanced and fertile ecosystem for SMEs and startups to grow at a fast speed in the space sector." Simone shared. "Moreover, the strategic location of Singapore is perfect for expanding business and finding important opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region. This year’s Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC) event confirmed that Singapore and GSTC are the ideal platforms for new partnerships and to uncover new technology developments and opportunities in the Asia-Pacific Space industry.”

Today’s youth, tomorrow’s space explorers 

Singapore can also be seen gearing up its young population by providing opportunities to work in the space industry. The local institutes of higher learning offer diplomas in aerospace engineering and aerospace electronics. Singapore Polytechnic, for example, has a real-world hangar and offers industry partnerships for students from various engineering courses to interact and work together.

The annual Singapore Space Challenge is held by SSTA to challenge student teams to leverage on space technology, design space-related projects and deal with real world challenges, including disasters. One thousand youths have participated in this event since its inception in 2007.

How can Hawksford help businesses entering Singapore’s space industry?

Hawksford’s range of services in incorporation, corporate secretarial, tax and accounting, immigration and general business support will provide you and your business with a seamless and ideal environment to set up your business ventures and take flight smoothly.

As industry experts, we help manage the necessary administration work, so that you can focus on growing your business in space and beyond.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about Hawksford, our services and related matters.  The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice.   

Looking to setup or expand your space business in Singapore? Get in touch with our specialists to find out how Hawksford can help.

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