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Business

Singapore building up precious asset: Entrepreneurs

TOKYO -- Singapore is proving adept at spawning innovative entrepreneurs thanks to solid support from the government. One symbol of this backing is T.Ware, a technology company founded in 2011.

     Its hallmark invention is the T.Jacket, which helped the company win first prize at the Asian Entrepreneurship Award 2014, held in the Japanese city of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, on July 13-15.

     The T.Jacket is a hoodie vest that applies "deep touch pressure" to the wearer through an air-pump system that can be controlled through a smartphone app. The pressure simulates the feeling of a hug and is said to have a therapeutic effect on people who are anxious, such as autistic children. During the three-day event, T.Ware competed against 16 startups from 12 countries and regions in Asia, including Japan, China, India and Thailand.

     The company's CEO, James Teh, attributes its success at the Japanese event to the support of his alma mater, the National University of Singapore. The school has been spearheading the country's efforts to foster a culture of entrepreneurship. It forged a partnership with California's Stanford University in 2001. Every year, it sends about 150 students to Silicon Valley for firsthand experience as interns.

     Also playing a role in Singapore's push to spur innovation is Block 71, a refurbished industrial building there that serves as an incubator for young entrepreneurs by promoting collaboration between industry, academia and the government. The building is home to about 100 startups, and having a shared space leads to lively discussions not only among companies there but also with visitors, such as investors and clients. 

     Startups often fail due to insufficient funding. Singapore's efforts to support young entrepreneurs show that money is not the only way to foster innovation.

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