Food Tech City
4 reasons why food tech is blossoming in Singapore
Singapore is a foodie hotbed chock full of world-renowned street food and a list of Michelin-starred restaurants a mile long. It's also the perfect place for food tech to flourish.
Government support
Startups moving in
Approachable regulatory environment
Focus on cultural fit and education
While the food in Singapore is some of the best in the world, their current food system will require some updating in order to be sustainable. Currently, they import 90% of their ingredients and use only 1% of land for farming. Luckily, this is about to change. With more relaxed regulations than some Western places and a penchant for innovation, food tech of all shapes and sizes is moving in.

The Singaporean government recently set aside loads of cash to support food initiatives with a target of having 30% of food grown in Singapore by 2030. Combine this with a tech-forward community, a mild and sunny climate most of the year, and a culturally-diverse food culture, and it's no surprise that Singapore is on the brink of a local food revolution.
1. Government support

Singapore's government is well known for its strategic planning and direct investments to steer solutions to meet the city-state's needs. Worries about food scarcity, global warming, and an ever-growing population fueled Singapore's Food Agency (SFA) to set aside over S$200 million for local food development programs. Their goal is to locally-source and grow 20% of their fruit and vegetables and 10% of their proteins by 2030, and they've earmarked this money for tech-focused research, development, and production. They also plan to train the next generation of farmers, whether they're working on land or sea, by partnering with local Universities. Taking cues from the plant factories in Japan, Reuters reports that the government plans to build a 44-acre agri-food site for indoor plant factories and insect farms by mid-2021.
ComCrop's rooftop garden
2. Startups moving in

The private sector is also seeing Singapore as an excellent place to launch food tech startups. Shiok Meats made headlines earlier this year by choosing Singapore to set up shop and are the first cellular aquaculture company located in Southeast Asia. ComCrop was the first to build a rooftop garden in Singapore and currently has lush farms producing an array of pesticide-free herbs and greens on the top of buildings. They're also piloting the placement of mini vertical farms inside grocery stores. Karana is another Singapore-based company looking to reinvent traditional meat dishes with jackfruit.
Venture capitalists are starting to look around as well. Singapore has a new agri-food-tech accelerator, GROW, that just began accepting applications for both early-stage companies and companies looking to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Also, a new incubator, Innovate 360, recently popped up offering food labs and manufacturing space. Local venture fund Temasek has been putting their money where their mouth is by heavily investing in Impossible Foods.
3. Approachable regulatory environment
As the Singaporean government becomes more familiar with new agri-tech sectors, business licenses are becoming easier to come by. ComCrop shared that it initially took them three years to get an official farm license for their first rooftop farm. But with tenacity and closely working with the city, their second license took a fraction of the time to obtain.

In general, Asia seems to be moving more quickly towards figuring out a regulatory environment for new tech like cellular agriculture too and not getting caught up with nomenclature politics, like the US and EU. The Spoon quoted the CEO of Singapore-based Shiok Meats who said, "Asia seems to be pushing the regulators within to come up with a framework sooner than the West." Others I've spoken with favor Singapore over other Asian capitals because of their stable, growing economy and the government putting their money where their mouth is in regard to food and sustainability.
4. Focus on cultural fit and education

Singapore's food tech industry is doing several constructive things that give them an advantage. Innovation continues to be a selling point as technology has been ingrained in the rise of cosmopolitan Asian cities like Singapore, but local food startups aren't stopping with creative tech that wows. Many have realized that it's much easier to convince consumers to try out their food if it can slot right into traditional recipes, like Shiok Meat's shrimp or ComCrop's chye sim. And to support the scale and growth of food tech, both private companies and the government are developing programs to train the future green-tech workforce.
Singapore's goal of "30 by 30" may seem daunting today, but there is excellent momentum building to combine food with tech for tangible results in the city-state. The people I've met in Singapore are incredibly proud of what they're working on and how they're helping feed people.
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