Growth of high-tech firms in S'pore nearly doubles

The high-tech industry is growing faster than all other industries on the island, and it enjoys a higher survival rate as well.

SINGAPORE--The high-tech industry is growing faster than all other industries on the island, and it enjoys a higher survival rate as well.

However, compared with other start-ups in the last five years, high-tech firms here have a larger proportion of foreign ownership.

According to a study by the Department of Statistics released yesterday, the number of high-technology industrial companies in Singapore has nearly doubled in five years, from 2,675 in 1996 to 5,087 last year.

This represents an average growth of 17 percent a year--roughly seven times the 2.4 average growth chalked up by all industries.

The number of high-tech start-ups grew year-on-year, even in 1997, when the economic crisis hit the region. Start-ups that year grew 2.5 percent. The exception was 1998, when the figure experienced an 8 percent fall, which was in line with the dip in the economy.

However, things came back with a vengeance in 1999, with the dot-com boom. This inspired a 46 percent rise in start-ups, and the sector accounted for more than 20 percent of employment.

The momentum continued into 2000, when the number of new high-tech firms grew a further 39 percent, against a background of gloom in the Internet world and other industries, which registered flat growth here.

The high-tech industry also has a marginally better survival rate than other areas, The Straits Times reported. This is partly because of support from venture capitalists, like the National Science and Technology Board's Venture Investment Support for Start-ups, which invests in locally-listed tech firms.