Mr Peter Ong, Chairman, Enterprise Singapore spoke on three areas of focus – raising productivity, strengthening innovation and accelerating internationalisation, in a speech during the agency’s annual review yesterday.
Emphasis on digitalisation to raise productivity.
Enterprises Singapore aims to help the large base of micro and small enterprises uplift productivity through technology adoption, automation and digitalisation from the start. This is complemented by training and upskilling of workers to keep pace with technological advancements.
“The key difference here will be the emphasis on helping broad swathes of SMEs embrace digitalisation as a means to uplift productivity from the get-go. The aim is over a 5-10 year period to build a whole generation of SMEs to adopt a digital footprint that can position them to increase productivity, be more resilient and to scale up for growth” said Mr Peter Ong.
He added that in partnership with IMDA, the Start Digital initiative in was launched in January this year. The program aims to help SMEs jump on the digital bandwagon early in their life stage, and this is one way that by working with partners business can achieve the productivity uplift.
He said that beyond starting digital, they wanted enterprises to grow digital. Noting that this was not an easy task but a necessary one because the digital onslaught will not let up and it is critical for enterprises to be prepared.
Develop market-led innovation
Another focus area for Enterprise Singapore is enabling companies to develop new technologies or adopt technology solutions to create their own intellectual property so that they can leverage innovation as a key differentiator.
This can be done by speeding up the commercialisation of new technologies, bridging the gap through innovation experts, encouraging market-led innovation where tech solutions are developed based on the opportunities and problem statements faced by industry players, and expanding the innovation networks.
“We want to now focus more on fostering market-led innovation, where tech solutions are developed based on the opportunities and problem statements faced by industry players and across markets. We want to engineer more “market-pull” of intellectual property by working with owners of problem statements and surrounding them with SMEs who can offer innovative solutions, at times working jointly with technology and innovation players. To do this, we aim to catalyse more open innovation platforms” said The Enterprise Singapore Chairman.
He also said that the would identify more “bilingual” innovation experts to work within Singapore companies, people who can speak both the languages of business and tech, and are able to help translate business needs into technical proposals and eventually commercialised solutions.
In this year’s Budget, the government announced the Innovation Agents programme, a two-year pilot for enterprises to tap on a pool of experienced industry professionals to advise them on opportunities to innovate and commercialise technology.
Supporting local business to grow internationally
Accelerating Internationalisation will help the broader base of SMEs expand overseas for the first time as well as enable those with existing inmarket presence to expand their overseas footprint. This is important due
to our small domestic market and proximity to countries in Asia that offers tremendous business opportunities.
“For our companies to grow, they need to venture beyond Singapore. Despite the uncertainties, the external economy remains critical to their growth and expansion. We want more companies to internationalise, and for them to do so earlier in their life stage. The key shift is investing more efforts to help a broader base of SMEs that are keen to grow, take that first step overseas.”
Enterprise Singapore will be helping businesses build the necessary capabilities and connect them to in-market support networks.
“If we help create a digital imprint in our enterprises, they will not only be more productive but will also be able to scale up and internationalise faster. Exposure to international markets will create more opportunities for demand-led innovation” said Mr Peter Ong.