SPEECH BY MR S ISWARAN, MINISTER IN THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE, SECOND MINISTER FOR TRADE & INDUSTRY AND HOME AFFAIRS, AT TECHINNOVATION 2015, 22 SEPTEMBER 2015, 9:00 AM AT MARINA BAY SANDS CONVENTION CENTRE
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. I am pleased to join you this morning at TechInnovation 2015, organised by Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI) Singapore. TechInnovation provides a technology marketplace that brings together both local and international technology providers offering solutions that meet the needs of companies.
2. When I launched the inaugural TechInnovation in 2012, it was the first event of its kind in Singapore. There were 24 exhibitors and 500 delegates then. I am pleased to note that TechInnovation 2015 has drawn over 80 exhibitors and technology providers from 15 countries this year, ranging from Norway to Japan. Of the over 1800 delegates, over 70% come from SMEs. This is an encouraging sign of TechInnovation’s growing stature, and its successful outreach to our SMEs enabling them to harness technology for growth.
R&D and innovation are key enablers for business competitiveness and productivity
3. Helping our companies, particularly our SMEs, to innovate and grow is a key economic imperative. SMEs are an important part of our economy, accounting for 70% of our workforce, and nearly 50% our GDP. They are integral to Singapore’s economic resilience and vitality.
4. Today, Singapore is in the middle of our economic transformation journey – a journey that aims to develop capable and productive enterprises with robust business models. Technology and innovation are key to enabling our companies to improve their productivity and efficiency on the one hand, and to build a competitive advantage and grow their topline by developing new products and services on the other.
5. I am heartened that that there is a growing awareness among SMEs on the importance of leveraging innovation. A survey on SME Development conducted by DP Info in 2014 indicated that 75% of SME respondents were planning to implement innovations to spur business growth and productivity. Since 2002, research and development (R&D) spending by local SMEs grew at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 5.4%, from $322 million in 2002 to $580 million in 2013.
6. Nevertheless, we are also aware that there are still a number of SMEs that lack the resources and capacity to undertake long term R&D or innovation projects. They may also find it challenging to navigate the research and innovation landscape to identify solutions relevant to their needs.
Government is committed to supporting our SMEs in tapping technology and innovation to develop new products and processes. IPI is part of Government’s innovation and enterprise support infrastructure to help SMEs.
7. The Government is committed to helping our SMEs tap technology and innovation to develop new products and processes. For example, under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan 2015 (RIE2015), SMEs undertaking innovation projects receive assistance from A*STAR through the GET-Up programme, which provides technology roadmapping services and secondment of researchers, as well as access to intellectual property developed in our local Research Institutes.
8. SPRING Singapore has also established seven Centres of Innovation (COIs) to enable companies to gain access to facilities and technical expertise in electronics, supply chain management, environment and water technology, food, marine and offshore technology, materials, and precision engineering. Over the past 4 years, the COIs have supported SMEs through a total of more than 1000 projects.
9. IPI Singapore plays an important role as an intermediary and connector, to help our SMEs identify and assess relevant technologies and know-how. As an intermediary, IPI serves as an aggregator of technologies from multiple sources - local, international, public, and private partners - to meet the needs of SMEs.
10. Since its inception in 2011, IPI has engaged more than 750 companies and facilitated 350 technology matches and projects through multiple platforms, such as face-to-face engagements as well as IPI’s online technology marketplace and TechInnovation.
11. Kim Eng Seng is one example of a company that has successfully leveraged on innovation with IPI’s assistance. A Singapore SME that designs, manufactures, repairs, leases and sells transport trailers for shipping containers, Kim Eng Seng engaged IPI to source for potential technologies and partners that could enhance its competitiveness. With technology sourcing and financial assistance from IPI and SPRING respectively, Kim Eng Seng then collaborated with the Marine & Offshore Technology Centre of Innovation (COI-MOT) to design and prototype mechanical jigs that reduced the need for manual lifting of heavy steel chassis during the production of its trailers. This improved productivity and the standardization of manufacturing processes with resultant cost savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
12. Another example of a company that was assisted by IPI is HVS, an SME that provides automated maintenance solutions for fluid-cooled tubes and shell heat-exchanger systems. HVS was seeking technology to enhance their existing cleaning balls to enter new markets such as oil and gas industry. HVS was connected to the Materials Centre of Innovation (MCOI) at TechInnovation 2013 and a new energized ball with higher temperature and oil-resistance was developed. The collaboration created the opportunity for HVS to enter the oil and gas sector.
13. To enable our companies to continue to stay ahead, the Government has put in place Innovation Cluster programmes under RIE2015 to enhance the translation of outcomes from public research to commercial applications by companies in new growth clusters. One cluster that has been identified is Additive Manufacturing, or 3D printing, which has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry, especially in sectors such as Aerospace, Medical Technologies, Marine & Offshore, and Building & Design. Leveraging 3D design data, Additive Manufacturing enables manufacturers to make products using less material, and in more intricate configurations, than is possible using conventional methods.
14. Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC, pronounced NA-MEEK). NAMIC will translate related upstream research in Singapore’s public research entities and institutes of higher learning into downstream commercial applications, lowering the barriers for companies to incorporate additive manufacturing technologies into their core business and manufacturing processes. Public partners participating in NAMIC include the Nanyang Technological University’s Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP), National University of Singapore’s 3D Printing initiative for medical technologies and Singapore University of Technology and Design’s Digital Manufacturing and Design Centre (DManD).
15. Continuous innovation is indispensable for businesses that want to differentiate themselves and stay ahead of the competition. TechInnovation has helped our companies to develop the networks to access technologies and innovations, irrespective of source, so as to move up the value chain, increase productivity and become more competitive.
16. In collaboration with SPRING, this year’s TechInnovation event also includes sessions where large corporations and government agencies present initiatives that offer opportunities for SMEs to co-develop technologies and solutions. Some of these companies and agencies, such as Mediatek, 3M and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, are already working closely with our SMEs on co-innovation projects. I urge our participants to join these crowdsourcing sessions and look out for more opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships.
17. I wish you all a fruitful and productive conference. Thank you.