Singapore Brings Smart Nation and Tech-Building Community to the US with San Francisco Office Opening, Strategic Collaboration & Global Data Challenge

21 January 2015 - Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) today announced a strategic collaboration with General Assembly and the launch of a Global Data Challenge for the technology community in the US, which includes Singaporeans studying, working or setting up business in the Bay Area.

Singapore, 21 January 2015 | For Immediate Release

IDA strengthens bridge between Singapore and the US tech community

San Francisco, January 21, 2015 – Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) today announced a strategic collaboration with General Assembly and the launch of a Global Data Challenge for the technology community in the US, which includes Singaporeans studying, working or setting up business in the Bay Area. Mr Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman of the IDA, shared this news at the opening of a San Francisco office for IDA’s investment arm, Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL) today.

At a launch event assembling more than 100 invited guests, including investors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and members of the Bay Area and Singapore technology community, Mr Leonard announced exciting business opportunities for the US-based tech community such as funding, training and aid in expanding to Asian markets through accelerator programmes based in Singapore, and a strong call for participation in Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.

“Singapore is building itself into a Smart Nation. Part of our plan in doing so is to actively engage the global tech community in our Smart Nation vision and encourage collaboration with leading tech ecosystems across the world. Young, innovative tech entrepreneurs and startups can help tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing growing cities and nations today, brought about by the inevitable trends of ageing population and urban density. Especially in areas ranging from healthcare using IOT at homes to environmental sustainability through better use of energy resources, global tech builders can use Singapore as their Living Lab to pilot some of their innovations,” said Steve Leonard.

With their new office in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, the high tech magnet of San Francisco city, IIPL offers collaborative space, a wide range of entrepreneurial and business building activities and events to enable greater partnership opportunities between the US and Singapore startup communities. The new IIPL office is part of “Block 71 San Francisco”, an initiative shared with NUS Enterprise and SingTel Innov8.

Block 71 San Francisco gives opportunities for US-based entrepreneurs, companies and investors to find out more about Singapore and other emerging trends and business opportunities in the huge and growing Asian markets. Singapore-based tech companies with interest to expand into the US market will leverage this facility to better understand the market, ‘set up shop’ and expand their network into the US tech community.

Collaboration with General Assembly

Mr Leonard announced IDA’s intention to collaborate with General Assembly, the global educational institution that is fostering a new technology community through learning-by-doing classes, workshops, full-time immersive programs and online courses in web development, user experience design, digital marketing and data science. The General Assembly community consists of professionals seeking to start a new career or level up in the one they have.

General Assembly will set up a presence in Singapore, their first in Southeast Asia, to deliver best-in-class, practical education in technology, business and design. Well-known for programmes where students emerge prepared for roles as developers, user experience designers and tech product managers, General Assembly delivers actionable, practical and tactical skills for the 21st century workplace.

“Some of Southeast Asia’s and the world’s most innovative businesses and tech leaders spring from Singapore, so it is natural to expand there to help enable new innovation,” said Jake Schwartz, General Assembly co-founder and CEO. “We are committed to empowering people to create new possibilities, and to helping employers create the workforce they need to build the future. General Assembly is bringing together individuals, industry and government to foster educational and economic opportunity around the world, and we will expand our curriculum and footprint to serve thousands of additional students this year.”

Global Data Challenge

IDA also announced its plans to expand Singapore’s technology community and foster new tech talents. To reach its Smart Nation goal, Singapore is building a technology ecosystem driven by a cultural mindset of experimentation and collaboration that strives to tackle important global challenges all countries face.

As part of its Smart Nation initiative, Mr Leonard called out to the Bay Area tech community, which has a strong concentration of young Singaporean students, professionals and entrepreneurs, to participate in a Global Data Challenge. At the heart of the Global Data Challenge is a rich collection of more than 8,000 open government data sets that can be innovatively meshed and analysed with private sector datasets to bring about new insights on people’s pain points and city challenges that need to be tackled. These data includes public transportation commuter patterns, bed occupancy rates in public hospitals, common health problems, air quality, household electricity consumption and other societal and cultural trends in Singapore.

The Global Data Challenge makes these data sets available globally to innovators who can leverage the data and insights for the development of new sustainable, scalable and viable innovations relevant to the Singapore Smart Nation initiative. Curated ideas that make best sense in the Singapore context and have the potential to scale will be considered for possible trials in Singapore. These solutions could then be scaled globally to tackle challenges that every other city is facing. For more information on how you can participate in the Global Data Challenge, please contact Victor Tan, Director, San Francisco, Infocomm Investments at

With the launch of the San Francisco office, IIPL is extending its US$200 million fund to US tech startups. Existing investments in American-based companies include Twilio, DataXu and Quid. IIPL aims to invest in and attract startups that have an interest in expanding into Asia through Singapore and add value to the Smart Nation initiative for the betterment of public needs such as healthcare, city planning, mobility, security, urban living and citizen-centric services.


About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

The mission of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is to develop information technology and telecommunications within Singapore with a view to serve citizens of all ages and companies of all sizes. IDA does this by actively supporting the growth of innovative technology companies and start-ups in Singapore, working with leading global IT companies as well as developing excellent information technology and telecommunications infrastructure, policies and capabilities for Singapore. For more news and information, visit or follow us on Twitter @IDA_SINGAPORE.

About Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd

Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL) builds and invests in Singapore and global infocomm technology start-ups. Managing more than USD$200 million, we accelerate the development of start-ups in their formative phase, and invest further as they move towards growth and expansion. IIPL plays a central role in building a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem in Singapore for start-ups to flourish through our investments, partnerships across sectors and global reach. IIPL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @iipl.

For media clarifications, please contact:

Karen Low (Ms) 
Deputy Director, Corporate & Marketing Communications
IDA / Infocomm Investments
Tel: +65 6211 0432 | +65 9796 8409

Teresa Tan (Ms)
Manager, Corporate and Marketing Communication
IDA / Infocomm Investments
Tel: +65 6211 1745 | +65 9661 4836