Celebrating the Bicentennial anniversary of the arrival of Raffles goes to show how well our young nation has maneuvered itself from colonialism to independence. The founding fathers of the nation (who transformed the country into one of the” four dragons” of Asia) were agile enough to overcome three to four recessions and ensure that we are better equipped to face global challenges.
For example, attracting foreign investments and housing the population have been a continuous focus for the nation, whereby PM Lee Hsien Loong advocated that major policy makers had to understand the issues, define the problem, come up with creative ideas and solutions, prototype the ideas, test out the innovations and constantly review the thinking and solutions.
Growing up in the 70’s, I had the opportunity to personally experience the transformation in Singapore. I remember being able to runaround freely in a very rustic environment called “kampong” (village) which was very prevalent at that time. Some years later, we had to move to a flat due to the redevelopment in our area and for the first time we had automated sanitary facilities. Although it is not so glamourous as a subject, the key point here is the speed of the transformation and its immediate impact. The same speed of change applies to the career landscape - In the 70’s & 80’s, it was prestigious to have a skilled blue-collar job; in the 90’s we saw more people switching to PMET jobs and in the 00’s, the technology and services jobs were the call of the day. We are now at the point where transformation and disruptive technology is pervasive and has made a big impact to the economy.
This is evident in the culture of the leaders like Finance Minister Mr. Heng Swee Kiat to be forward looking as seen in the policies and government agencies to drive and sustain these initiatives. In the 2016 Budget, Mr Heng launched the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), which drive transformation at the company, industry, and economy-wide levels.
This approach is at the heart of a masterplan unveiled to help Singapore navigate a more uncertain global environment in the next 10 years. It is clear that in order to make Singapore stay ahead in ahead in this challenging global economic climate, it must remain open and connected to the world, help its people acquire skills for jobs of the future, and ensure that its companies scale up fast for a challenging climate through innovation and transformation.
It is promising to see that Singapore is already on its path in leveraging innovation as its strategy to sustain growth. We are among the 16 countries identified as an “Innovation Champion” by the Consumer Electronics Trade show (CES) on Jan 2019. In the second edition of its International Innovation Scorecard, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) ranked Singapore in fifth place.
Innovation transforms an idea into a new and improved product, process or service. New technology is a visible expression of this, but there are intangible, organisational innovations too.
We have also been dedicated to build an innovation ecosystem to bridge big companies, start-ups, governments and academies in Singapore. Our meet up community, red dot innovation! has grown to over 3000 members this year. We have been putting together vibrant sharing, discussions and activities to enable the exchange of ideas, facilitate collaborations and help inventors to grow their ideas fast and efficiently. This month, we are partnering with the PIXEL lab, the digital arm of Infocomm Media Development Authority to teach Design Thinking methodologies and best practices. It’s a FREE workshop and you are welcome to join!
Innovation is a learning and social process and given the age of digital disruptions, it adds to the complexity and scope of innovation processes requiring a broad set of complementary skills. Innovation enhances this total factor of productivity and creativity and this is clear for all to see in Singapore. Eventually, progress depends on how human skills and technology interact to improve processes and raise performance. Innovation enhances this total factor of productivity. I’m proud to be part of this innovation movement. Wish you all a Happy National Day!
Francis is the Operation Manager for why innovation!. As an accomplished and passionate executive with a proven track record in domestic and international operations of consulting and product distribution, he has direct hands-on experience in new startups to established businesses looking for business/performance enhancement. He carries strong knowledge of Business solutions leveraging IT and best practices with innovative marketing strategies.