Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) announced on Thursday that it will be launching a new work pass to attract highly-skilled professionals to boost its tech ecosystem. Called Tech.Pass, it will be given to top-tier foreign professionals and experts looking to start businesses, lead corporate teams, or teach here.
With the work pass, these individuals can perform activities like starting and operating companies, serve on the board of directors of a Singapore-based firm, or be a shareholder or investor. They can also take up lecturing roles in institutes of higher learning, serve as a mentor or adviser to companies here, and conduct corporate training or workshops.
According to the Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, having such experts in Singapore will not only allow them to bring their capital, networks and know-how to the country’s tech ecosystem, but it will also create opportunities for Singaporeans. “Tech.Pass will add to the critical mass of established tech talent in Singapore and create a flywheel effect to further strengthen our position as a leading tech hub for the region,” he said.
Applications for the pass will start in January 2021, and only 500 passes will be available upon launch. EDB will be administering the applications of these pass, with the support of the Ministry of Manpower. The Tech.Pass will be valid for two years, with a one-time renewal for a subsequent two years that will depend on certain criteria.
In order to be eligible, candidates must meet two of the three criteria:
- a last drawn monthly salary of at least SGD 20,000 (USD 14,817) in the past year
- at least five years of cumulative experience in a leading role in a tech firm with a valuation or market capitalization of at least USD 500 million or at least USD 30 million funding and beyond
- at least five years of cumulative experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least USD 100 million in revenue
For the Tech.Pass to be renewed, pass holders will need to fulfil several requirements, which include having earned at least SGD 240,000 (USD 177,800) in assessable income over the two years or demonstrating total annual business spending of at least SGD 100,000 (USD 74,000).
Efforts in other countries
Mr Chan last year mentioned in Parliament that countries like Thailand, China, and France are already rolling out initiatives to attract highly skilled technology professionals. He cited how both France and Thailand have special visa programs to make it easier for technology talents to work in their countries. If Singapore did not attract such talent too, we would “almost certainly be left behind”, he warned then.
According to EDB, Tech.Pass builds on the Tech @ SG program, which spells out more flexible requirements for foreign professionals to apply for an Employment Pass (EP). It added that both Tech.Pass and Tech @ SG allow fast-growing tech companies and established tech talent to enter Singapore and anchor themselves here. “This will also create more opportunities for local tech talent to work in globally competitive teams alongside top tech talent from all over the world,” said EDB.
This article was originally published by Vulcan Post.