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Speech by Second Minister Dr Tan See Leng at TechInnovation 2020

Speech by Second Minister Dr Tan See Leng at TechInnovation 2020

1. I am delighted to welcome you to TechInnovation 2020, organised by IPI. TechInnovation is IPI’s flagship technology-matching event that brings together local and international technology providers and enterprises to network as well as explore new collaborations. 

2. For the first time, this year’s TechInnovation event will be taking place round-the-clock virtually over the next five days, from the 7th to the 11th of December. I am heartened to see the high level of participation from global businesses and innovators which reflects the value of TechInnovation, in bringing together the various members of the international tech community. 

SMEs should adopt an innovation-led growth strategy to build agility and resilience in the post COVID-19 economy.

3. While the post COVID economic recovery is still highly uncertain, what is certain is that the global economy post-COVID will look very different from the past. Companies, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), must adopt an innovation-led growth strategy, to thrive and succeed. 

4. SMEs that can leverage innovation to pivot into new markets or develop differentiated products and services will stand out in a competitive and dynamic marketplace. These SMEs will be in a much better position to command higher margins as well as create new pathways to grow their businesses. 

5. For example, Certact Engineering, which is a Singapore precision engineering firm specialising in metal parts for semiconductor manufacturers, invested in new plastic engineering capabilities. The company now produces plastic parts for high demand medical equipment such as DNA sequencing machines and ventilators thus allowing them to diversify into new revenue streams. 

Singapore’s innovation ecosystem provides companies, especially SMEs, with the right resources to accelerate their innovation efforts. Moving forward, IPI will partner more enterprises in their transformation and enable them to achieve greater impact through innovation.

6. While innovation is important for enterprises to develop new and sustained competitive advantages for growth, not all companies have the resources or the know how to start. I assure our companies that as long as you are keen to embark on the innovation journey, the government will support you every single step of the way. Over the years, the government has established a strong innovation and enterprise ecosystem to support companies in their innovation journey. 

7. For example, Enterprise Singapore has supported the set-up of Centres of Innovation (COIs) since 2006. We now have 9 established COIs across various industries including food, energy, logistics and the Internet of Things (IoT). The COIs provide companies with access to technical know-how and expertise to accelerate product development. They also help companies to navigate regulatory hurdles, access intellectual property and test-bedding opportunities. We encourage our SMEs to tap on these COIs to level up their innovation capabilities. 

8. IPI is another important resource partner that provides technology matching services for companies looking for innovative solutions to drive business growth. Over the last five years, IPI has engaged close to 1,000 enterprises across many industries and matched more than 150 companies to technology solutions that have benefited the businesses. 

9. For example, IPI brought LeanCost International and SMT Technology together in a collaboration which integrated LeanCost’s manufacturing data analytics algorithm with SMT Technology’s software solution that captures operational data. Through the collaboration, the companies co-developed SmartCost, an intelligent software solution that allows real-time monitoring of costs in a manufacturing process. This enables high-mix low-volume manufacturers to develop accurate pricing models and spot potential areas for cost savings, thus maximizing profit for companies. 

10. I am also happy to share that IPI is launching its new brand identity today as “Innovation Partner for Impact”. Going forward, IPI will expand its mission beyond being an intermediary, to provide holistic end-to-end support for enterprises, from ideation to product development and eventually to commercialization. 

11. In fact, IPI has already taken steps in this direction through the implementation of the Innovation Advisors Programme, in partnership with Enterprise Singapore. This programme allows SMEs to gain relevant industry insights and build capabilities needed to develop or enhance their own products and solutions to address market needs. This is done through the support of Innovation Advisors, senior industry veterans who will guide SMEs’ strategic thinking, short-circuit their learning curve, and facilitate the strategy implementation. Since its launch late last year, IPI has onboarded more than 15 enterprises under the Innovation Advisors Programme. 

12. While all projects are still ongoing, quite a number of them have begun to show positive results. For example, PAR Investments Pte Ltd, a local food commodities and ingredients supplier, has developed new capabilities in food valorisation technological know-how with guidance from an Innovation Advisor. The initial trials have shown promising results and the innovation is projected to double the company’s revenue over the next three years.

Singapore will continue to connect our enterprises to international partners and innovation opportunities, through open innovation platforms like EUREKA and TechInnovation

13. Singapore enterprises are not just limited to local technology providers. Singapore enterprises can take advantage of international open innovation platforms like TechInnovation and EUREKA to connect with overseas partners and overseas innovation opportunities. 

14. At TechInnovation this year, ESG and IPI are launching the second Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge (SOIC) with leading organisations such as Danone, Haier and Dole. As global trends in sustainability accelerate, incorporating sustainable practices becomes an imperative for businesses and those who can do so profitably will have a competitive advantage over others. I strongly encourage enterprises and technology providers to participate in the SOIC to collaborate and to discover green technologies that can enable your businesses to be sustainable. 

15. Haier, a global home appliances and consumer electronics company, was matched to Latheacond Technologies. This is an A*STAR spin-off through SOIC 2019. The partnership gives Haier access to Latheacond’s Vacuum Insulation Casings that has a potential to improve the energy efficiency of fridges without increasing their costs while Latheacond benefits from mentorship and test-bedding opportunities provided by Haier.  

16. Another open innovation platform, the EUREKA GlobalStars-Singapore Call, brings enterprises from Singapore and EUREKA  countries together to collaborate on innovative products or solutions. Despite this COVID-19 pandemic, the call has garnered twice as many applications compared to a year ago and this is a strong signal that Singapore enterprises continue to want to emphasise innovation and partnership with innovative companies abroad. 

17. For example, Whizpace which is a Singapore startup, collaborated with SoStark from Netherlands to co-design new TV white space tracking solutions that can achieve larger area coverage at a lower cost compared to traditional solutions. Through this partnership, Whizpace contributed its proprietary technology while SoStark facilitated Whizpace’s entry into the European market through its sales and distribution channels, resulting in a win-win for both companies. 


18. TechInnovation is an excellent platform for our participants to network and explore new collaborations. I hope you all can join the crowdpitching sessions to learn about the latest technologies and solutions in growth sectors such as Food and Nutrition, Digital Economy and Sustainability. 

19. I look forward to seeing new initiatives seeded by all the discussions here at TechInnovation, as well as the many other events which are held as part of SWITCH. Congratulations again to IPI on your new brand, and I wish you all a fruitful conference and exhibition over the next five days. Thank you very much. 

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