JTC LaunchPad @ one-north, a new startup cluster primed to be Singapore’s very own startup valley, was unveiled yesterday by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck.
Comprising three adjoining buildings in Buona Vista – one new, another to be repurposed and the third is the current startup hub Block 71 – LaunchPad is in many ways Silicon Valley-inspired.
It will feature several cafes and food points where employees can gather to eat and converse; sports facilities that will foster interaction and provide relief from work; as well as indoor and outdoor collaborative spaces to hold meetings and parties – similar to Google and Facebook campuses in the Valley.
The new and expanded cluster, expected to be completed by end this year, will double the startup community size in one-north to over 500 startups and 2,000 entrepreneurs.
Future development plans in the area could also potentially enlarge the community to 800 startups and 3,200 entrepreneurs, said Mr Teo at the launch.
Nine companies, among them Exploit Technologies, Joyful Frog Digital Incubator, SingTel Innov8 Ventures and NUS Enterprise, have expressed interest to be part of LaunchPad.
“LaunchPad complements the previous efforts of Block 71, as current tenants will be able to meet and partner new companies with innovative ideas and technologies,” Lily Chan, chief executive officer of NUS Enterprise, told The Business Times. NUS Enterprise is currently an anchor tenant at Block 71.
Chrissy Lim, fellow tenant and founder of interactive learning solutions startup Paperplane, agreed: “Having both mentorship in the form of incubators and fellowship with other founders in the same boat will help enormously. It’s like one big support group – the more the merrier!”
But more can be done to make LaunchPad more communal, and with increased opportunities for collision and interaction, said Jeffrey Paine, co-founder of startup training firm Battle Ventures.
Converting one to four whole floors into incubation spaces, installing a shared main entrance, and building a hostel, day care centre or gym indoors are some of his suggestions.
He also noted that firms may be less keen to move to LaunchPad because of its non-centralised location.
For incubator AccelerAsia, which currently operates from a shophouse in Amoy Street, it was more a strategic reason not to move.
“We mostly work with startups based in Europe, the US and Israel, so there is less of a need for us to be located in the startup cluster,” said Arnout Mostert, partner at AccelerAsia.
In fact, critical to the success of LaunchPad is the sustained interest of Singaporean youths to undertake entrepreneurship, said Dr Chan. And this, she added, is something that currently still requires the support of the government.