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Chinese AI startups relocate to Singapore for growth

In this post:

  • Singapore is becoming a prime destination for Chinese AI startups in search of growth and a wider audience.
  • The friendly regulatory environment in Singapore contributes to the exodus of Chinese startups to the country.
  • Relocating to Singapore opens opportunities for funding from global venture capitalists.

Chinese AI startups are increasingly heading to Singapore for growth and global reach, raising eyebrows in China. This move comes as these firms seek to escape the geopolitical tensions between China and the US, which are limiting their access to funding and the latest technologies.

Also read: OpenAI stops API access in China starting July 9

Moving to Singapore is not only expanding markets for Chinese AI startups, but it is also providing access to global funding in an environment with a more friendly regulatory framework.

Is “Singapore-washing” helping businesses?

A Bloomberg report suggests that moving to Singapore exonerates these Chinese AI startups from too much scrutiny from countries that are opposed to China. Being in Singapore helps them “disconnect” from their original Chinese roots, in what is known as “Singapore-washing.”

Wu Cunsong and Chen Binghui are an example. They started their company named Tabcut in Hangzhou in 2022, but relocated to Singapore in March this year, after facing challenges like limited venture capital back home.

“We wanted to be in a place where capital is abundant rather than diminishing.”

– Wu Cunsong.

Since moving to Singapore, like other Chinese AI startups, Tabcut has managed to access global customers and investment. The firm has also accessed the latest technology such as Nvidia’s latest AI chips which are currently restricted in China due to US sanctions.

Stringent rules pushing Chinese AI startups away

According to the Bloomberg report, the stringent laws in China make AI startups shy away from their home ground in search of better opportunities. The tough laws in China also restrict developers from exploring innovations in AI.

However, Singapore offers a more friendly environment, including the ease of setting up a business as well as acting as a bridge between Asian firms and global markets.

About 70 – 80% of Chinese software and startups are looking at attracting global audiences, according to Linklound’s founder, Adam.

Also read: Can Singapore Emerge as the Premier Global AI Hub? Perspectives from a Google Exec

By the end of 2023, Singapore reportedly hosted over 1,100 AI startups. Although the origins of the countries were not disclosed, there is evidence that Chinese AI startups have been setting up there.

Another example is Jianfeng Lu whose company Wiz Holdings Pte migrated to Singapore in 2019. The company, backed by Tiger Global, GGV Capital, and Hillhouse Capital now serves customers from Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

However, it is not all rosy for firms that have migrated to Singapore. Byte Dance moved its TikTok’s headquarters to Singapore but “still faced US legal challenges requiring the sale or ban of its American operations.”


Cryptopolitan reporting by Enacy Mapakame

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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