NFIA gives Singapore gaming companies a fair play in Europe
The Singapore creative industry may be young but its vibrancy never goes unnoticed which drove the Media Development Authority (MDA) to allocate S$6million to attract overseas collaborations. Seeing Singapore’s potential, the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) now taps the city state’s creative industry, helping local companies to establish and expand their European operations.
The NFIA is an operational unit of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and helps and advises foreign companies on the establishment, rolling out and/or expansion of their international activities in the Netherlands. As a government agency, their services are provided on a confidential and complimentary basis.
Adeline Tan, senior project manager at NFIA, notes that Singapore and the Netherlands share an appetite for
development in the gaming industry. Singapore is home to emerging creative companies while the Netherlands has a very sophisticated market which is eager and active in the industry, be it in casual or serious gaming. The two countries are working on the “adaptation of existing products to the Dutch/Singapore market via local partners, and Singapore and Dutch companies are jointly exploring new areas of applications for
serious gaming concepts and developing new products and services,” she added.
Never ditching the Dutch
According to Tan, the Dutch government’s new Innovation Fund for SMEs will make 3.8 million Euros available for private investment funds looking to invest in the creative industry. “The creative industry has for years been one
of the fastest-growing sectors in the Dutch economy. The new Fund will invest up to 50% of start-up capital for creative industry enterprises. Private investors in the Fund will receive the lion’s share (80%) of the return on
investment,” she added.
Singapore companies therefore realize that to target the European market, it is best to do it via the Netherlands where they have access to good partners with networks into the rest of Europe. Tan warns that to remain competitive, it is no longer enough for local firms to just be service providers or to only cater projects to institutions that require it. To break new boundaries, they need to look for partners with complementary skills and
expertise for the market that they want to reach. With this in mind, NFIA then started working with a handful of local companies to explore the validation of their existing products via the Dutch market. “There, we pair companies with research institutes that will be able to provide the more scientific aspect of the developmental process to make the product a success,” says Tan.
In 2010, the Dutch Media Hub was in Singapore for Broadcast Asia and it was during that time that an MOU was signed between the Film Content Company Europe and Alternative Content Distribution Network looking at the digitalization of content using Singapore and the Netherlands as Media Hubs.
Also during the 2011 Serious Games Conference, Dutch games company, Grendel Games, specializing in serious games for the health industry made a very strong impression leading to numerous interest from local healthcare groups and institutions.
No room for child’s play
To further promote the Dutch creative industry to the Singapore market, NFIA laid out a 3-point strategy. The first step is to inform companies within the industry about the games landscape in the Netherlands vis-à-vis the rest of Europe, highlighting also Dutch companies that are willing to collaborate with Singapore companies. Hence, NFIA and MDA will hold an information sharing session in April 2012.
Secondly, NFIA plans to meet with companies to better understand their needs and determine how they can help in matching these Singapore firms with Dutch companies for joint product development and licensing agreements. “Thirdly, if enough local companies would like to explore the Netherlands, the NFIA can arrange for a fact-finding trip for these companies to the Netherlands to meet with Dutch companies who are open to collaborations,” Tan adds.
NFIA’s cooperation with government agencies like IE Singapore, SPRING and the various business associations are strong as they share the common goal of assisting local companies, reckons Tan. “Moving forward, we see NFIA’s partnership with Singapore growing from strength to strength as both nations fulfill the hub ambition, Netherlands for the European market and Singapore for Asia. We look forward to working with local companies on their ambitions for the European market,” she concludes.