Singapore pad in WeWork home?

James Riley
Editorial Director

One of Australia’s Landing Pads will have to lift off again as it searches for new digs.

Austrade’s southeast asia Landing Pad in Singapore is looking for a new home because its original space within a building in the heart of Singapore’s innovation zone is being re-purposed.

The Landing Pads are an $11 million initiative from the National Innovation and Science Agenda where the idea is to give Australian startups some international expansion leverage by providing a spot near major, global innovation centres where they score a 90-day residency in a co-working space as well as introductions to investors, mentors and strategic partners and business advice.

Singapore: The Austrade Landing Pad is seeking a new manager

Singapore was the fifth and final Landing Pad to be setup, and joined other pads in San Francisco, Berlin, Shanghai and Tel Aviv when it came online in March 2017 and was opened by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

The Singapore Landing Pad was first located at BASH in Ayer Rajah industrial park, about 5km west of the Singapore CBD. According to Austrade’s Landing Pad webpage it still is, although the Singapore government is re-jigging the space.

BASH which stands for “Build Amazing Startups Here” is in a building called Block 79, adjacent to the Block 71 incubator.

Because BASH is being repurposed by the Singapore Government, the Landing Pad program has been running from ThincLab Singapore in a short-term partnership with the University of Adelaide’s global startup program. This is located at Fusionopolis @one north.

A cohort of four companies is currently in-residence at ThincLab Singapore: SkyCar Transport Systems; PLAY2LEAD; eReflect; and FreightExchange.

Austrade expects a new cohort to start at the Singapore Landing Pad in mid-May. Austrade will confirm a new permanent home for the Singapore Landing Pad by end April, with the next cohort scheduled to start their residency in mid-May.

Singapore Landing Pad manager Joseph Ziegler left the organisation late last year and Austrade has since then been seeking a new in-country manager.

“Singapore was an obvious choice,” said Ms Bishop at the launch of the Landing Pad. “As well as being such close friends and neighbours and having a very similar view on commercial and economic issues, it is also a gateway into Asia.”

Ms Bishop opened the pad along with Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran.

“Through the Landing Pad, Australian entrepreneurs will have access to a network of contacts in Singapore and ASEAN, as well as in-market business development, investment, and mentorship opportunities,” Mr Iswaran said at the launch.

Australia signed an MoU with Singapore In May, 2016 pledging to lift technology collaboration and agency-to-agency innovation and science engagement between the two countries.

Under the MoU, Singapore and Australia each agree to invest $25 million over five years in joint technology initiatives. The Landing Pad was one of the first tangible signs of this agreement.

However, the pad has to move and does not yet have a permanent new home.

According to Austrade’s landing pad manager Luke Deacon, the Singapore government is changing the BASH location into an advanced technology facility and Austrade is now searching for landing zone for its Singapore landing pad.

“We are now in the process of reviewing possible location partners for the Singapore Landing Pad, said Mr Deacon in an email response to last week, adding nothing had yet been signed and declining to comment further.

One possible location for the Singapore pad could be with US-based co-working outfit WeWork which is on an Asian expansion jag and opened a facility in Singapore’s Beach Centre late last year.

The Landing Pad move comes as the Turnbull government seeks to boost digital trade and research co-operation links between Australia and the ASEAN bloc of which Singapore is a member.

Australia, although not a member of ASEAN, hosted a n ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney earlier this month.

At the summit, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unveiled a digital standards cooperative initiative designed to help Australian and ASEAN trade partners work together to develop to promote digital trade.

“It will mean up to date, harmonised standards to do business across borders. Standards of business and most importantly to develop with business,” Mr Turnbull said at the summit.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Loong welcomed the initiative as “a very good first step in developing interoperable standards which will facilitate trade, and also review cost for businesses, particularly for SMEs.”

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