MOU (1)

Austin City Mayor Steve Adler (left) signs the Memorandum of Understanding with SPRING CEO Poon Hong Yuen

SPRING Singapore, the enterprise growth agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) yesterday with The City of Austin, Texas to help facilitate and ease the international expansion of startups between the two cities.

The goal of the MOU is to create a partnership in which startups in Singapore can expand into Austin (and vice versa) by setting up a network to help create ‘soft landings’.

Austin will provide entrepreneurs with access to attorneys, accountants, digital marketers and the Austin Asian Chamber will offer assistance. Furthermore, it has negotiated an agreement with local incubator Capital Factory to participate in the partnership.

“[The MOU] is just the ink, it is what happens after the ink [that is important]. What is striking to me is just how similar the energy and feeling is when you walk into an incubator or accelerator space in Singapore compared with a similar space in Austin. To a certain degree it felt like we were coming home and that is exciting,” said the Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, at the signing event.

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The partnership is focussed on two types of entrepreneurs:

  • Business owners that have gained traction in Singapore or Austin and are ready to expand but need a support network (such as introductions to lawyers, accountants and working spaces).
  • Entrepreneurs with less traction, who know they want to expand, but are not sure about the correct market.

Austin, much like Singapore, shares the attribute of being a medium-sized city with an ability to act as a skipping stone into larger markets.

Austin, with a metro area of over 2 million people, is arguably the best startup environment in the US outside of New York and Silicon Valley. Its geographic position presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs to grow across both the US and Latin American markets.

This sounds a lot like Singapore, in which a strong startup scene helps a company grow and develop within the city, but many successful companies branch out regionally.

Additionally, the Austin government has a similar such partnership with Taiwan, tying together a large network.

“As I have the opportunity travelling through Asia, I meet a lot of people that [when they] think of the US, they think of the coasts. Not many people know that Austin is the fastest growing metro area in the US,” said Adler.

“We represent one-third of the patents and 50 per cent of the venture capital in the state. You can understand why Austin is called the ‘boomingest’ of cities in the US”.

One such company that has expanded from Singapore to Austin is the drone company H3 Dynamics, which is making waves with its autonomous deployment technology. The company also has a presence in France and South Africa.

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As for the city itself, located in southeast Texas, it is famous for its natural beauty, outdoorsy culture and a ‘Keep Austin Weird’ mantra. The city likes to refer to itself as the ‘live music capital of the country’.

It is most famous for the yearly event, South by Southwest which has grown from a music festival and today includes one of the United State’s most important tech conferences of the year.

Famous startup/tech companies from Austin include HomeAway, AppSumo and BigCommerce. Also, the production studio Rooster Teeth is based in the city.