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People: Action Community for Entrepreneurship appoints James Tan as chairman

SINGAPORE — The Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) announced today that it has appointed James Tan as its new chairman of the board of directors.

With 4,000 startups employing 22,000 people, more than 100 incubators, accelerators and venture builders, and more than 150 venture capital funds in Singapore, ACE’s scope has increased tremendously since its inception in 2003 by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

With the global recession in force and Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) forecasted to shrink by between 4 percent to 7 percent this year, consumer spending behavior will take a sharp turn to a cash preservation mindset. Startups face considerably more challenges than legacy businesses in this commercial new normal.


“COVID-19 has disrupted all businesses, and for many industries, the changes will be permanent and irreversible. Businesses, GLCs, startups, and SMEs alike, have to re-emerge with viable and sustainable plans to respond to a post-lockdown economy reopening in phases and peppered with unfamiliarity as the economy searches for a steady-state,” said Tan.

“This is an opportune time for ACE to re-validate and expand the role it was set up for… to support the startup ecosystem in their journey to become viable business going concerns. In this difficult period for startups, ACE provided ground-up support through public webinars and private matching activities such as the COVID-19 Seminar Series and Meet-The-VC Sessions,” added Tan.

ACE has been working closely with community stakeholders, especially government agencies, innovation enablers, and startups, to drive entrepreneurship and innovation in Singapore and beyond aggressively. ACE also helps to facilitate disbursement of government grants such as the Startup SG Founder grant and the Global Talent Ready (GRT) grant, which saw a surge in inquiries during this pandemic.

Prior to his appointment as chairman, Tan served on the board as deputy chairman from 2016 to 2020, and as a Member of the Board from 2011 to 2016. He replaces Mark Hon, who has completed his term. Hon, who will be appointed chairman emeritus, laid the groundwork to develop ACE into the international leading startup and innovation ecosystem developer it is today.

Tan is confident most startups will recover and the community will emerge stronger than before, materializing this vision in the years to come.

“The whole-of-economy digital transformation momentum from COVID-19 provides an impetus for the Singapore economy to become ‘The Innovation Island’,” said Mr. James Tan. The Innovation Island is the vision that Mr. Tan has set for Singapore.

“Every crisis presents its opportunities. COVID-19 is cultivating a generation of resourceful, black swan-event-smart, and resilient Singapore entrepreneurs. Their collective experience and war stories will mold them into future leaders in our innovation ecosystem. We believe that such market-operating nous coupled with dexterous operating mindsets raise the ‘entrepreneur’ quotient of the Singapore business world. The outcome is a much more permanent systematic impact.”

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