Singapore entrepreneurs play a key role in driving innovation in the economy: Koh Poh Koon

Home-grown entrepreneurs will serve as important drivers of innovation in Singapore's economy, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.
Home-grown entrepreneurs will serve as important drivers of innovation in Singapore's economy, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - As drivers of innovation, home-grown entrepreneurs will play an increasingly significant role in Singapore's economic landscape, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

"Start-ups and smaller enterprises are often more agile and able to react more quickly to seize new opportunities. As such, they serve as important drivers of innovation in the economy," said Dr Koh, speaking at the Spirit of Enterprise (SOE) Awards at Mandarin Orchard Singapore on Thursday evening.

"The role of innovation in catalysing industry transformation will become increasingly significant as Singapore faces increasingly stiffer competition for capital and talent from the rest of the world, and innovation becomes an integral component of the business strategies for our companies."

Dr Koh, who is also Minister of State for National Development, added that entrepreneurs help to "rejuvenate existing industries and are a source of the next generation of local champions" - which is important for the continued renewal of firms in the economy.

"While we are in a period of slow growth, there are bright spots and opportunities in key sectors which our companies and entrepreneurs can continue to seize, which can provide good jobs for Singaporeans."

Dr Koh said the Government's ongoing efforts to nurture the spirit of enterprise have seen good progress. Entrepreneurial activity has grown over the past decade, with a monthly average of 5,400 businesses formed last year, compared with just 3,600 in 2005, while the number of high-tech start-ups rose to about 4,800 from 2,700 in 2005.

He added that the quality of start-ups has also improved, attracting more investor interest. There has been significant increases in both the number and aggregate size of start-up exits which also tripled between 2011 and 2015.

The Government will continue to build on these efforts in collaboration with key partners, such as trade associations and chambers, institutes of higher learning and organisations such as SOE, said Dr Koh.

At the event, Neo Group's founder, chairman and chief executive Neo Kah Kiat was awarded the SOE-Nexia TS Entrepreneur of the Year award.