Singapore — Tech.Pass, a new work pass designed to attract top tech talent from around the world, will be open for applications from January next year, according to an announcement by the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Thursday (Nov 12).

Under this scheme, aimed to bolster the country’s tech ecosystem, applicants do not need to be sponsored by a firm. Furthermore, it allows holders to be flexible in business operations in that they can be an investor, employee, consultant or director in one or more Singapore-based companies, mentoring start-ups and lecturing at local universities.

The new pass, with an initial 500 places, will be valid for two years, according to the EDB.

And while some locals have been unhappy with the level of competition they have faced from foreigners especially amid uncertain economic times, the Tech.Pass should not add to these concerns since it does not apply to mid-tier tech levels where competition has been intense.

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Instead, the pass is aimed at those who have proven themselves in contributing significantly to the global technology ecosystem, which is aligned with the Government’s thrust to become the innovation and technology hub in the region.

This endeavour has been evident in the past few years, with Facebook, Google, Alibaba and Tencent among the tech giants who have found their way to Singapore, in large part due to incentives and grants, according to scmp.com.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said at a closed-door dialogue with the European Chamber of Commerce on Thursday (Nov 12): “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.”

And in a Facebook post on the same day, he said: “Tech.Pass is a targeted programme that seeks to attract top-tier tech talent with experience in established or fast-growing tech companies globally, so as to facilitate knowledge exchange with our local talent and contribute to the development of Singapore’s tech ecosystem.”

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Tech.Pass applicants are required to meet at least two of three criteria: A last-drawn monthly salary of at least S$20,000 in the past year; at least five years of cumulative experience in a leading role in a tech firm with a valuation or market capitalisation of at least US$500 million or at least US$30 million funding and beyond; or 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 US$100 million in revenue.

Singapore has been hard-hit by the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, seeing job losses amid fears of locals losing their jobs to foreigners. And while the Government has been supportive towards citizens, it has also reiterated Singapore’s need to stay open to foreign talent. /TISG

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