In brief

On 12 November 2020, the Economic Development Board (EDB) announced its plans to launch Tech.Pass, a targeted programme for attracting founders, leaders and technical experts with experience in established or fast-growing tech companies, so as to contribute to the development of Singapore's tech ecosystem. This is the strongest signal that Singapore has sent that it is very serious in attracting such top tech talents to Singapore and helping to grow its tech ecosystem.


Key Takeaways

The new scheme is billed as an extension to the [email protected] programme launched in 2019, as part of Singapore's efforts to attract tech talent to Singapore and develop Singapore's tech ecosystem.

  • Tech.Pass will allow pass holders flexibility to participate in activities such as starting and operating a business; being an investor, employee, consultant or director in one or more Singapore-based companies; mentoring start-ups; and lecturing at local universities. 
  • Tech.Pass will be open for application in January 2021, with 500 places available upon launch.
  • It will be valid for two years in the first instance, with a one-time renewal for a subsequent two years, if the renewal criteria are met.
  • It will be administered by EDB, with support from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
  • Individuals can apply for Tech.Pass directly. Details of the application process will be announced in due course.

In more detail

Tech.Pass allows the pass holder to:

  1. Start and operate one or more tech companies
  2. Be an employee in one or more Singapore-based companies at any time
  3. Transit between employers or to become an entrepreneur
  4. Be a consultant or mentor, lecture in local institutions of higher learning, or be an investor and director in one or more Singapore-based companies
  5. Sponsor stay for spouse, children, and parents in Singapore on either a Dependent’s Pass (DP) or a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) issued by MOM
  6. Renew for another two years, upon meeting renewal criteria

Eligibility

To be eligible for Tech.Pass, the applicant must satisfy any two of the following conditions:

  1. Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last year) of at least SGD 20,000 – Note: An applicant with annual income in excess of SGD 240,000 or its equivalent in a foreign currency will also be considered.
  2. Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation/market cap of at least USD 500 million or at least USD 30 million funding raised.
  3. Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role (e.g., made major contributions to the design, development, and/or deployment of a tech product) in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly active users or at least USD 100 million in annual revenue.

Renewal criteria

To be eligible for a two-year renewal, the pass holder must:

  1. Have earned at least SGD 240,000 in assessable income based on the latest Notice of Assessment from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (can be made up of salaries and/or business income); OR
  2. Demonstrate total annual business spending of at least SGD 100,000 and employ at least one local professional, manager, and executive (PME) or three Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents (who earn a monthly salary of at least SGD 1,400 and receive CPF contributions for at least three months; and
  3. At the time of renewal, be performing at least two of the following roles, at least one of which must be in Column A:

A

B

  1. Founded a company in Singapore, offering a tech-based or tech-enabled product or service

 

  1. Served on the board of directors of a Singapore-based company (need not necessarily be a tech company)

 

  1. Served a leading role (e.g., CEO, CTO, APAC MD) in a Singapore-based tech company

 

  1. Acted as advisor/mentor to a Singapore-based start-up

 

  1. Served a leading role in two or more Singapore-based tech companies

 

  1. Served as professor/lecturer/adjunct professor/adjunct lecturer in a Singapore Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) 

 

  1. Served a leading role in two or more Singapore-based tech companies

 

  1. Provided training in some form not covered by B2 or B3 above (e.g., workshops and corporate training classes)

 

  1. Employed in a technical role leading a team in two or more Singapore-based companies

 

  1. Invested in one or more Singapore-based tech companies

 

Eligible applicants do not need to secure employment in Singapore prior to the application, i.e., applicants can apply for Tech.Pass without employer sponsorship. Applicants will be assessed based on their track record and prior experience in leading teams or developing a tech product.

Tech.Pass holders will subsequently be able to utilize flexibilities accorded with the pass, such as starting and operating companies; being an investor, employee, consultant or director in one or more Singapore-based companies; mentoring start-ups; or even conducting training in local institutions. 

Comments

The introduction of Tech.Pass is part of Singapore’s multi-pronged approach to develop a strong base of technology companies and talent to ensure Singapore remains globally competitive. This will also create more opportunities for local tech talent to work in globally competitive teams alongside Tech.Pass holders, i.e., top tech talent from all over the world, given that these pass holders will be establishing their businesses in Singapore instead of joining local firms as Employment Pass holders.

Accordingly, by drawing in top-end global tech talents, Singapore hopes that this will create new business opportunities, in partnership either with Singapore companies or with IHL, to mold the next generation of local tech talent.

With only 500 Tech.Passes to be issued, we envisage that eligible foreign professionals will be very keen to be part of this new scheme and establish their businesses here as Singapore looks to develop its status as a tech hub.