Singapore is exploring how it can recommend startups to investors “like how Amazon recommends books”, said Wong Ming Fai, CIO of Enterprise Singapore and Head of GovTech Data Analytics Practice. AI and data analytics would provide the tools to take local business to the next level.

“In the same way [as Amazon], we’re learning from investment data to say that certain types of investors like to invest in a certain type of company,” he said. “Can we surface those startups to the investors so we can help the startups get funding more easily?”

Wong shared how the agency is helping to match up startups with investors and ease the funding process, at the GovInsider session in the recent SAS Analytics Insights Exchange summit.

Data to grow enterprises

Enterprise Singapore is increasingly using data analytics to understand what makes investors tick, and provide the most relevant help to local businesses. More targeted support can help Singapore internationalise its products and services. “How do we build a brand of Singapore that is a trusted service, with products of a certain level of quality?” said Wong.

Singapore is looking through the data analytics lens to segment companies, and take a “differentiated approach” to working with them. They collect data including customers, funding requirements, and relevant industry associations.

“With analytics, you can segment using a lot more dimensions,” Wong explained. “Do they need funding, do they need manpower, do they need connections to go overseas, or do they need to improve their productivity?”

Two platforms, the Enterprise Data Hub and Business Grant Portal, provide “readily available and comprehensive” data on businesses and grant applications the Enterprise Singapore officers that work with these companies.

These analyses are made more granular by combining with past data. The agency looks outwards as well, trawling websites and social media for the number of employees; past interactions with government; its history of partnerships, mergers and acquisitions; and key individuals that are linked with the company. “This is where we come in to do entity recognition and link analysis,” Wong said.

Analytics for all

A final focus is “analytics for all”, Wong concluded. “Can we push out analytics to all the different offices? How do we empower them?”

The agency has to train and support its staff to digitalise; it isn’t enough to hire a few data scientists, every civil servant should be data-savvy. Wong combines his role at Enterprise Singapore with being GovTech’s data champion, and so is well placed to understand the support his staff requires.

Amazon started as a bookshop, and expanded into almost everything else. But has Singapore found a new niche – an Amazon for local investment?

Image by Vassilena ValchanovaCC BY 2.0