It is a well-known statistic that 9 out of 10 startups fail. In fact, 20% of new startups don’t make it past their first year.
It’s not for lack of trying—running a business isn’t an easy feat, especially when you’re just starting out. Early-stage founders often weather the storms of a volatile business landscape without sufficient funding or experience. That’s where startup incubator and accelerator programs come in.
Startup incubators provide seed funding and mentorship for early-stage startups, “incubating” an idea into a viable company. Accelerators, well, accelerate the growth and expansion of startups through resources such as venture capital and network connections.
This article dives into various startup incubators and accelerators in Singapore, both private and government-backed. It also covers the best practices for choosing an incubation or acceleration program for your startup.
- Startup incubators and accelerators are programs that help early-stage startups grow and scale through funding, mentorship, and resources.
- Startup incubators provide seed funding and long-term support for startups with an idea, while accelerators provide growth capital and short-term intensive support for startups with a product.
- Benefits of joining an incubator or accelerator are access to network, expertise, exposure, and validation.
- Drawbacks are equity dilution, limited resources, limited focus, and limited time.
- Some of the best startup incubators and accelerators in Singapore are Iterative, StartupBay, Accelerating Asia, Antler, and Entrepreneur First.
Startup Incubators & Accelerators in Singapore
There are many advantages to starting a business in Singapore. The country’s startup ecosystem is currently valued at USD $11 billion, with various resources for aspiring entrepreneurs to get their start and scale globally.
Here are 5 accelerators and incubators in Singapore for early-stage companies.
Focus areas: sector agnostic
Iterative is an accelerator and venture capital firm focused on the Southeast Asia market.
Its 3-month acceleration program focuses on mentorship, where early-stage founders work one-on-one with experienced lead partners. It also holds a demo day at the end for startups to present to an audience of investors.
Iterative invests USD $150K-500K per batch. Startups also continue to receive support from Iterative’s community of other startup founders after the program.
Iterative made its first investment in June 2020, and its companies have since raised USD $163 million in follow-on funding from investors. Iterative’s total portfolio is presently worth $1.2 billion.
Some notable alumni include the fintech startup Spenmo, which closed an $85 million Series B round, and proptech startup Propseller, which raised $12 million for Series A.
Focus areas: tech
StartupBay is a global startup accelerator focused on technology-first startups, particularly new technologies related to AI, blockchain, and IoT. It hosts various mentorship and investment accelerator programs to help promising startups build and scale globally.
StartupBay offers resources across various technology and business domains, such as financial management, human resources, and digital marketing. It helps startups build robust, investment-ready business models.
Since 2016, StartupBay has enabled over 1500 founders and accelerated over 100 startups. In 2022, StartupBay invested USD $1.2 million in Rocket AI, valued at 89 million Rupees at the seed round.
3. Accelerating Asia
Focus areas: sector agnostic
Accelerating Asia provides venture capital for early-stage startups in its flagship accelerator program. It primarily focuses on engagement, connecting passionate entrepreneurs with potential investors, partners, and clients.
Accelerating Asia invests USD $100K upfront into pre-Series A tech startups and up to USD $150k in follow-on funding. It supports startups that contribute towards building a sustainable future. Selected companies often already have a robust product but are still at the early stages of customer traction.
As of 2022, Accelerating Asia’s portfolio comprised 60 startups that had raised over $50 million. It headed a seed fundraising round in 2021 where Shuttle, a transportation tech startup, received USD $750K.
Focus areas: tech
Startup-O is a startup incubator and asset management company that provides early-stage venture and seed capital, with an average round size of $412K.
Startup-O offers evaluation insights and connections for growth. Startup-O Fasttrack is an online investment assessment program that helps startups get discovered and raise capital, while Startup-O Edge provides resources for cross-border scaling.
Its wide network of experts and investors helps startup founders get discovered across software, AI, IT, machine learning, and fintech sectors.
In 2019, Startup-O was voted #1 among 247 participants for its contributions towards building the startup ecosystem in Asia.
Startup-O participated in a funding round where Arth Design Build, a startup providing digital solutions in the construction industry, raised $1.1 million.
5. Spaze Ventures
Focus areas: sector agnostic, tech, edtech
Spaze Ventures offers both an incubator and accelerator program, Startup Spaze and EduSpaze, respectively.
Startup Spaze is a technology incubation scheme providing funding and mentorship for companies across diverse sectors, from concept to seed stage. Startup Spaze invests an initial seed capital of S$50K-500K and tops this up in follow-on funding.
EduSpaze, an ESG-backed edtech accelerator program, invests up to SGD $500K in selected startups.
Startup Spaze was a participating investor for GRIT, a recruitment solutions firm, which raised over SGD $500K in funding at the pre-seed stage. Similarly, EduSpaze led a seed round wherein Akadasia, an education technology startup that helps teachers upskill, raised $550K.
Government-Supported Accelerators & Incubators in Singapore
The Singapore government is an active advocate of innovation, and backs several startup incubators and accelerators. It aims to “connect publicly funded research & development to startup enterprises for commercialization.”
In particular, the government invests in startups that provide solutions for public and industry use, such as technology and cybersecurity startups, and pave the way for the next generation.
Here are 4 government-owned or supported accelerators and incubators in Singapore.
1. Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE)
Focus areas: tech
ACE was originally established by the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry but now operates as a private non-profit organisation. It focuses on building various pillars of the Singapore startup ecosystem.
ACE offers early-stage support through a mentorship program, with the opportunity to pitch to potential investors. It also supports growth-stage startups in fundraising, international expansion and corporate co-innovation.
ACE invests up to USD $22.7K in seed and Series A, and also helps startups to gain access to talent.
A notable ACE alumnus is Singaporean C2C and B2C marketplace, Carousell. Since receiving an ACE startup grant in its early days, Carousell is now a popular household name, boasting tens of millions of users across Southeast Asia.
Focus areas: deep tech
SGInnovate aims to help entrepreneurial scientists build deep technology companies across diverse industries. It believes that Singapore has the resources and capabilities to develop innovative solutions to global problems.
SGInnovate’s approach comprises talent development, investments, and community-building. Since 2016, it has invested $1.3 billion across 257 funding rounds.
In its first year, SGInnovate completed equity investments in 15 deep tech startups, generated 400 potential customer leads, and built a network of over a thousand individuals interested in joining early-stage tech companies.
3. Tribe Accelerator
Focus areas: blockchain
Tribe Accelerator takes a product-focused approach, working with growth-stage technology companies to scale their ideas. It highlights a global network of MNCs, government agencies, and tech experts.
Tribe Accelerator hosts exclusive networking events with corporate partners and industry experts. Its accelerator program works with companies to design go-to-market strategies, with masterclasses on fundraising and technical and marketing support.
Tribe Accelerator is one of the top 3 blockchain accelerators in Singapore and worldwide. has invested in 19 startups from two batches with a combined value of over SGD $300 million. Its portfolio companies have raised $70 million to date.
4. TNB Ventures
Focus areas: tech, deep tech
TNB Ventures comprises a Series A-focused accelerator and venture capital firm. Its investment fund, TNB AURA, has an average round size of $12 million.
TNB invests in promising startups in Southeast Asia to build deep technologies such as IOT, AR/VR, robotics, and AI. Its network extends beyond Asia, providing a cross-border platform for companies to scale globally.
In 2018, TNB Aura closed a maiden fund at SGD $31.1million to bring a more private equity-like approach to investing in startups in the region. TNB Aura was one of the investing partners in a round where TradeGecko, an inventory management SaaS platform, raised USD $10 million in funding.
Singapore Government Grants
The Singapore government has various grants and schemes to encourage entrepreneurship, within the corporate world and even in tertiary institutions.
Pollinate is an incubator that supports collaborative enterprise efforts across polytechnics. Another initiative is Lean LaunchPad Singapore by NUS Enterprise for scientists and engineers in universities and public research institutes.
There are also various government grants local startups can apply for to receive funding.
Finding the Right Incubator or Accelerator
Do you already have a team working on your startup?
If you are looking to build or expand your team, there are programs that connect you with a network of individuals interested in joining early-stage startups. These can help you find a co-founder or talent
Do you have a minimum viable product?
Accelerators often require startups to have a minimum viable product and initial customers. Incubators would work with you in the concept stage to develop your ideas and business pitches so you can be investment-ready.
Are you still looking for seed funding?
If your startup is in the concept or pre-launch stage, chances are you’re looking for funding to get started. In this case, working with a startup incubator that can provide seed money and angel investments would be your best bet.
Alternatively, if your startup is already in the growth stage, you should look for an accelerator program that can help you scale your business and expand into new markets.
Are you currently focused on the product or the business model?
Every startup will have its own strengths and weaknesses, according to the combined skills of its founder and team. Perhaps a startup has talented engineers to develop a viable product, but its members lack experience in business management.
Having clarity on your current focus is essential for setting smart goals and prioritizing your next steps.
Best Practices for Choosing a Startup Incubator or Accelerator
A. Identifying your needs and goals as a startup
The essential question is identifying which stage your startup is at. Do you have an idea, business model, viable product, or initial customers?
From there, you can decide the resources your startup needs at this stage, as well as the areas and amount of funding needed.
B. Evaluating the fit between your startup and each incubator or accelerator
There are many sector-agnostic incubators and accelerators. However, you may also want to find options with a specific industry focus. They could offer you more targeted advice and connections for the sector your startup falls under.
You also want to evaluate the investments and benefits each program offers, and whether this meets the needs and goals of your startup.
C. Researching the reputation, track record, and resources of each incubator or accelerator
Every incubator and accelerator has a portfolio consisting of companies they have worked with and invested in. From there, you can find a track record of the funding raised in different investment rounds and the success received by each portfolio company.
Research each program’s resources and benefits to see if it aligns with your startup’s needs and goals. You can also look into portfolio exits to identify any factors that may affect your startup’s fit with the company.
D. Considering the terms and conditions of investment
Incubators and accelerators often invest in startups in return for certain ownership rights and an equity stake. There are several factors to consider, such as the stock type and percentage of dilution that come with the investment.
More than the program cost and funding, it’s crucial to evaluate if any of the terms and conditions could pose setbacks for your company in the long run.
E. Seeking advice from alumni and mentors who have gone through the process
The business landscape is an unpredictable one, even more so for a startup that has yet to solidify its foundations. In this, textbook knowledge cannot compare to real-world experience.
Seek out mentoring opportunities from people who have been where you are and gone on to build successful businesses from the ground up. They will give you insights into the challenges faced by early-stage entrepreneurs and practical advice for navigating them.
Having the support of a network behind you can make all the difference. You may find people who believe in your idea and can provide the resources or connections to help you make your mark.
Onward: Marketing Success and Amplifying Your Online Presence
Like babies, new companies need to learn to walk before they can run. Singapore incubators offer the support and educational opportunities for a startup to stand on its own two feet.
It doesn’t end there.
Embarking on the journey to marketing success and amplifying your online presence is crucial for business growth.
Here are some tips to help you craft an effective marketing plan and drive more traffic to your website.
Which incubator is government supported in Singapore?
One government-supported incubator in Singapore is Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), initially established by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and now operates as a private non-profit organization.
Which company incubator is best?
The best company incubator depends on your startup’s specific needs, industry, and stage of development.
What are government incubators?
Government incubators are startup support programs backed by government agencies to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in various industries.
What is the difference between an accelerator and an incubator?
Incubators nurture early-stage startups by providing resources and mentorship, while accelerators focus on accelerating the growth and expansion of more established startups.