$100m to drive efforts to be 'standard-bearer'

Mr Tharman last night said adoption of standards can be a real enabler for small firms. "It makes them credible players even in competition with larger players in global markets."
Mr Tharman last night said adoption of standards can be a real enabler for small firms. "It makes them credible players even in competition with larger players in global markets." PHOTO: SPRING SINGAPORE

Tharman notes early adherence to global marks helped S'pore survive

Singapore's commitment to high standards has underpinned its economic and social growth and will be a key pillar of its future economy, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said last night.

Mr Tharman told a gala dinner to mark the 50th year of the Singapore Standardisation Programme and the 30th year of the Singapore Accreditation Programme that a budget of up to $100 million has been provided to drive efforts to develop this ecosystem over the next five years.

The funding will also support companies in adopting standards, which are industry-wide benchmarks designed to ensure that work like construction is done to a high level of quality. They also apply to products.

Mr Tharman said adhering to global standards during the first stage of Singapore's development as an independent nation helped it survive and be relevant to the world.

The "Sisir mark" administered by the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and the Singapore Standard, first introduced in 1966, has provided an "assurance of quality that has been an important source of competitiveness for Singapore", he noted.

Meeting benchmarks has improved the quality of life here as well, with building standards helping to develop safe public housing.

MARK OF QUALITY

Singapore is small. For companies to go overseas, the quality must be good and in order for that to happen, we must have a standards regime.

MR THOMAS PEK, Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association president and Tai Hua Food Industries managing director.

Also, the water efficiency management systems standards introduced in 2012 have helped achieve savings in water bills while protecting an important national resource.

Today, the quality and standards ecosystem can drive Singapore's future economy by supporting market access for local firms and promoting innovation.

Even small firms find standards a useful tool. Local security solutions company IT-Bio, with just 10 employees, adopted ISO and International Electrotechnical Commission standards for biometric data interchange formats. This helped it win a million-dollar project for an airport in Qatar.

"Adoption of (standards) can be a real enabler for small firms. It makes them credible players even in competition with larger players in global markets," said Mr Tharman, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies.

As Singapore "plugs itself into the global standards conversations", it can help ensure its firms are among the first movers as new international standards are launched, he added.

Local medical technology firm AWAK Technologies took part in developing a global standard for its sorbent technology and wearable dialysis equipment, which will help it gain access to the world market once the standard is adopted.

Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association president and Tai Hua Food Industries managing director Thomas Pek said on the sidelines of last night's dinner: "Singapore is small. For companies to go overseas, the quality must be good and in order for that to happen, we must have a standards regime."

The event at Resorts World Convention Centre was organised by Spring Singapore, the Singapore Standards Council and the Singapore Accreditation Council.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2016, with the headline '$100m to drive efforts to be 'standard-bearer''. Print Edition | Subscribe