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Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the launch of Scale-up Singapore

Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the launch of Scale-up Singapore

1. A very good morning to all the friends and colleagues gathered here today. 

2. This journey started some time back when we formed Enterprise Singapore, and when I took on this job in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. We asked ourselves a few simple questions as we looked at our big and medium sized companies and compared our own performance with the best in class across the globe. Are we doing as well as we should be? Our answer was that there is much more that we can do to learn from the best in the world. That was the first question. We have high aspirations for our companies to do well, not just in Singapore and in the region, but in the world. We set our sights high. If we know that we are not there yet, how can we get there? How can we get there individually and as team Singapore? 

3. The second question that we asked ourselves was where in our economy are the best jobs being created for our people? This is not just in terms of absolutes, but also in terms of growth and development prospects. It does not take a genius to figure out that it must be the high growth companies regardless of size. It must be the most dynamic companies. These are the companies that will create the new and better jobs for fellow Singaporeans. Therefore, these were the two basic questions we asked ourselves. How do we compete and make sure that we compete with the best in class and ensure that fellow Singaporeans have the best prospects in their jobs and employment opportunities? 

4. We looked at the entire landscape of more than 200,000 firms in Singapore, and developed a three pronged strategy. Broadly speaking, it refers to the top, the core and the foundation. At a foundational level, we have more than a hundred thousand firms, and we have schemes to help these firms to grow, to thrive and to survive. These are what we call broad based measures, which could be taxes or schemes to help firms get new equipment, train the workers and so forth. We will continue to have these broad based measures for the foundational group. At the very high end, some of our biggest and best known firms are already competing with the best in class in the world. For them, it is a different strategy, which is how to sharpen their competitive edge, such that they are not only at the top, but they remain at the top and continue to break new ground. 

5. Enterprise Singapore and I were most interested in the middle, which form the core. We believe that in order for Singapore to do well in the next lap, we need to strengthen the core. The core comprises companies that are in the small or medium range, as well as some in the tens of millions of revenue range, or in the hundreds or more millions range. How do we strengthen this core and what do they need? This is why we are here today. 

6. We are piloting this programme called Scale-up Singapore, a very focused programme where we dedicate resources to help the core to scale-up. This is so that one day, they too will be competing with the best in class in their respective industries at a global level. As the companies in the core do this, they will create more and better jobs for fellow Singaporeans. The programme is on the pilot run, because just as you are learning, we are also learning. We make available resources to help you think through your business strategies and your growth strategies. Therefore, we make available expertise from some of the consultancy firms and government regulatory agencies to see how we can partner with you. Most importantly, we want to build the network such that all of you are not just competitors with one another, but also partners learning with one another from one another. We hope that across such diverse sectors and through such cross pollination of ideas, that everyone will be able to benefit, and that everyone will be able to help one another as we go along. Therefore, this is a very targeted programme. While we have very broad based strategies for the foundation and sharpen the top strategies for the biggest firms, this programme caters to many of you, who are what we call in the middle the core, and it is to strengthen the core. 

7. People may ask how did you get selected? We did not select you by industry nor by size. We selected you based on your ambition. The ambition to do well for yourself in order to do well for Singapore and your fellow workers. That is why all of you come from such diverse industries. The next question is, who else can join? Is this a programme limited to only the 20 plus of you? I have no limit on how many companies can join this programme as long as the companies and the leadership of the companies have the same, if not higher level of ambition, for yourselves and by your workers. We will be able to induct more and newer workers. But what we hope to do is have every batch learn from the previous batches, so that we can keep improving the programme to make it even more customised to your needs. We hope to keep changing. However, what we will not change are the high standards set for entrance into this programme. That high set of standards starts with your level of ambition - that you want to do well not just for the Singapore market, but you want to do well for the markets beyond Singapore, so that you will be part of our overall strategy to grow our external wing, as I mentioned in Parliament on Monday. 

8. Incidentally, because you are from such diverse sectors, it means that there are opportunities for rich learning. We debated whether we should organise all of you by the same sectors or whether we should organise all of you, as you are now, across different sectors. I think there are merits in this model, where you come from different sectors, cross pollinate ideas, to find new ideas or create new ideas in the process. 

9. For all the Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) who are here today, we also need your help. Enterprise Singapore and the Ministry of Trade and Industry alone cannot know all the companies in Singapore as much as we would like to. We need the participation of the TACs. You are an important interface between the government and the enterprises. You are also the ones that can help us identify such promising and high aspiration companies that should be inducted into this programme, where we put the focused resources to help companies grow. 

10. We also have to be frank with the companies, that no matter how big you are in Singapore, you are still relatively small in this larger scale of the world. We want to get closer to the top at the global level. Therefore, I encourage all of the firms here to join the programme, to learn not just from the consultants and the experts in the field, but to learn from one another. We are spending resources to help you, and I have only one wish and one thing that I ask from all of you. That in your journey towards success, as you succeed, help us to take care of Singapore and fellow Singaporeans. Help us to grow the value add and even the resources that we have in Singapore. Help us to create more and better jobs for fellow Singaporeans. This is a simple item that I ask but it is important. Because in many countries today, while many companies grow and make money, not everyone in society gets to grow along. Because of that, many countries fragment and break up. However, in Singapore, we distinguish ourselves. This is not just because we have been doing relatively well in terms of economics and business. We distinguish ourselves because even as we do well economically, we also do well by keeping our society stable and cohesive. That can only come about when our companies’ success is also translated into success for our workers. 

11. I am very happy to launch this programme today. We know that we are in uncharted territories together. Just as you venture forward in the business world, the Government, Government agencies and economic agencies will stand by you and walk the journey with you. In the process, always remember. Do it well for yourself so that you can take care of the country and take care of people. 

12. Thank you very much and I wish you all the very best. 

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