Singapore ideal for Nordic start-ups: Swedish prince

Singapore is an ideal base for Nordic start-ups to explore the region, said Prince Daniel, a member of Sweden's royal family.

Prince Daniel, 45, told The Straits Times in an exclusive interview on Tuesday: "Singapore is an interesting market. The economic development in modern times has been very quick.

"Sweden and Singapore are also both ranked highly in the world when it comes to innovation. I find Singapore an inspiring place."

He added that Sweden is also an export-oriented economy with a small domestic market, and entrepreneurs have to look towards new markets like Singapore.

"They can learn from Singapore and use it as a hub to reach out to Asia. It is a port to a big market with 650 million people just around the corner," he added.

Prince Daniel was in town with a delegation of 46 entrepreneurs who are members of the Prince Daniel's Fellowship, a foundation that is part of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in Stockholm.

The Fellowship was launched in 2013 to bring together young entrepreneurs who are mentored by Swedish company founders and business leaders. It has visited around 80 schools and universities in Sweden, reaching out to around 20,000 students.

It was in Singapore to meet other Nordic start-ups and discuss their experiences in the region.

There are around 100 such start-ups in Singapore, according to the Nordic Innovation House, which helps companies from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway enter new markets.

Prince Daniel noted that the fear of failure is often what prevents young people from going into entrepreneurship: "There are more people who think they have good ideas than people who start companies. The challenge is always in the execution.

"There are few entrepreneurs who make big success on their first try. You have to learn from mistakes to gain experience."

Prince Daniel used to run a fitness business, which spawned seven outlets. He met his wife, now the Crown Princess Victoria, when he was her personal trainer.

"I ran my own business for about 15 years," he said. "My entrepreneurial soul now just wants to inspire others."

He added that the world is changing and people now want to try their own ideas. In the past, young people in Sweden used to be hesitant about venturing into the unknown.

"Now they want to change the world. I can't think of a better way to do that than starting your own business with the right values and team."

Yesterday, Prince Daniel also paid a courtesy call on President Halimah Yacob. They reaffirmed the warm ties and welcomed strengthening economic relations between both countries.