Block 71 San Francisco helps US startups meet with Asian entrepreneurs

SAN FRANCISCO: Silicon Valley and Singapore have a lot in common – dynamic startups, big tech players and major investors willing to take risks. Both locations are engaged in a process of cross-pollination, looking to the other for ideas, knowledge and expertise in order to deepen their business relationships.

That was the aim of a recent visit by a delegation from the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) to San Francisco. The team helped launch Block 71 San Francisco – an extension of Block 71, Singapore’s best-known startup space.

During the launch of Block 71, IDA also announced that it has inked a deal with General Assembly, a US-based organisation with 13 global campuses that helps professionals develop their careers through education. The agreement will see General Assembly opening a branch in Singapore by the end of the year.

Mr Jake Schwartz, CEO and co-founder of General Assembly, said: “Singapore has the most dynamic startup community in Southeast Asia and also the commitment from all the stakeholders; whether it is the Government, the other companies in Singapore, the startup community in general, we saw a level of commitment and passion that we thought General Assembly could tap and help support.”

Meanwhile, Singapore is helping the US tech community expand to Asian markets and maintaining relationships with expatriate talent in the San Francisco Bay Area – this is a key part of Singapore’s goal to become a Smart Nation.

Mr Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman of IDA, talked about the strategy IDA has adopted: “We have to discover new things, invest in new things and we have to also make sure we are working with great minds from around the world.

“So now the question is how can we anchor in San Francisco as part of an investment strategy, as part of a growth strategy. We are bringing these ideas back home but at the same time, sharing those ideas with other places around the world.”


Block 71 is a popular co-working space located at Singapore’s Ayer Rajah industrial estate. An abandoned building is now home to a thriving startup, venture fund and incubator community. From one block, it is now expanding to three – the larger hub, called JTC [email protected] North, has space for 500 startups.

Block 71’s sister site is located in San Francisco’s hi-tech SoMa neighbourhood, where IDA, SingTel Innov8 and the National University of Singapore have created a co-working space and community events venue. Block 71 San Francisco has been welcomed by local Singaporean entrepreneurs.

Ms Aihui Ong, CEO and founder of Love With Food, said: “Being an entrepreneur is hard. Having a community to get together with other entrepreneurs and network with mentors and like-minded people is very helpful. It gives us a sense of encouragement and a sense of belonging.”

At Block 71 San Francisco, US startups with an Asia strategy and Singaporean entrepreneurs will be able to collaborate and plug into the Smart Nation mentality.

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