Singapore must remain open, address innovation gap: Tharman

In particular, the Republic must address the widening gap in innovation between firms at the frontier of knowledge, productivity and new products and the rest of the economy, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said.
In particular, the Republic must address the widening gap in innovation between firms at the frontier of knowledge, productivity and new products and the rest of the economy, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore must remain open to the world amid heightened global uncertainty and as technological disruptions threaten to upend a whole range of industries, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

In particular, the Republic must address the widening gap in innovation between firms at the frontier of knowledge, productivity and new products and the rest of the economy, he said.

Speaking at the Singapore-France Innovation Forum at the Biopolis on Monday (March 27), Mr Tharman said: "Almost everywhere in the developed world, we have seen a weakening in the pace with which new ideas, new innovations are spread, from the frontier to the rest of our economies. These growing gaps in productivity have also been an important driver of wage inequalities in most developed countries."

But he added that both France and Singapore recognise this problem.

Said Mr Tharman: "Our own national strategies aim to grow innovation in all its dimensions - in other words, to strengthen innovation at the frontiers of knowledge as well as to spread new ideas more quickly through the rest of our economies."

He said cooperation between the two countries can enhance these national strategies, by encouraging partnerships between research and development (R&D) scientists and leading firms, as well as spreading innovations quickly so that many more companies and people can ride on those innovations.

Ties between Singapore and France are expected to receive an added boost when the European Union - Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) comes into force. As the first FTA concluded between the EU and an Asean member state, the EUSFTA is also a building block towards an eventual EU-ASEAN FTA, said Mr Tharman.

Mr Tharman added there are emerging opportunities for both Singapore and France to deepen collaboration in, such as in aerospace, smart cities, fintech and health and biomedical sciences.

The forum, organised by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and the French embassy, was held in conjunction with French President Francois Hollande's visit to Singapore.