Activities to try in Singapore: Tech tours around one-north

SINGAPORE - Home to tech companies, research organisations and a buzzing start-up scene, research and business park one-north in western Singapore is an unlikely tourist attraction.

But one man wants to change that.

In May, Mr Suen Tat Yam, founder and CEO of tour operator Woopa Group, launched tours of one-north under the group's corporate tours arm, Unique Business Experiences (UBE).

Mr Suen, 33, wants to target "bleisure" travellers - those who extend work trips to include a day or two of sightseeing.

He says: "If the leisure aspect of a business trip is both fun and educational, perhaps companies will be more willing to cover the cost."

Tours last between two and 10 hours and include a visit to the one-north gallery at Fusionopolis, which is not open to the public.

Participants also visit Launchpad @ one-north, an office cluster of about 800 start-ups that formerly housed the office of online marketplace Carousell, now worth more than $1.16 billion.

Tours include a networking session with speakers from a few companies, a mix of start-ups and established players.

Previous speakers were from cashback firm Shopback; online tutoring platform Joni.Ai; and Age Gracefully, which develops innovative products for the elderly such as smart walking sticks.


Corporate tours start at about $1,500 and require a minimum of 30 participants, but individuals need not miss out.

UBE also runs monthly community tours, which are free and open to the public.

Community tours usually centre on a theme, such as social enterprises, tourism entrepreneurship and eldercare innovation.

Each session draws about 15 to 25 participants from a variety of sectors such as financial technology, education and healthcare.

Mr Suen says he wants Singaporeans to know about one-north too, as those who do not work or live nearby may be unfamiliar with the district.

UBE also runs monthly community tours, which are free and open to the public. PHOTO: UBE

Only when locals know about one-north will they recommend it to foreign friends.

"Tourists already understand that Singapore is a First-World country. So we want to show other progressive aspects of the city and brand one-north as the Silicon Valley of South-east Asia," he says.

It is a tall order, but the area has innovation aplenty.

At Launchpad, graffiti-lined walls with posters advertising co-working spaces, focus group surveys and workshops give the space a distinctly collegiate feel.


Prototypes punctuate the industrial buildings. The Gym Pod, for instance, is a shipping container repurposed into a 24-hour affordable gym that has now expanded to four locations islandwide.

Ms Yeo Ban Tian, 36, who works in the public sector, found the tour informative.

She says: "With the Government moving towards digitalisation, it is useful to know what new ideas and innovative technology are available out there."

Price: Free (community tour)