Entrepreneurship and innovation are vital engines of economic growth, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon yesterday.
Small and large firms have to innovate or risk facing serious challenges from more agile businesses in this age of rapid technological advancement, he added.
Dr Koh was speaking at the launch of the Singapore Teochew Entrepreneur Award by clan association Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan.
He cited instances where firms in certain industries had recently been significantly challenged by more competitive businesses.
Taxi companies today face stiff competition from the growth of Uber, and the once-dominant BlackBerry now accounts for less than 1 per cent of the market for smartphones, he noted.
"We must build the mindset... to take deliberate steps to be agile and competitive, whether as a company or as an economy, and not be the ones who are left behind," he said.
We must build the mindset ... to take deliberate steps to be agile and competitive, whether as a company or as an economy, and not be the ones who are left behind.
DR KOH POH KOON, Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development.
Dr Koh, who is also Minister of State for National Development, also noted that entrepreneurship in Singapore had "progressed steadily".
The number of active young companies has grown from 23,000 in 2004 to 55,000 in 2014, he noted.
The Government has been encouraging growth in high-technology and knowledge-intensive sectors, an increasingly important part of the economy, Dr Koh said.
He cited Mr Lim Nee Soon, one of the founders of the Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan, established in 1929, as an example of how entrepreneurs can drive economic growth and contribute to community building.
Mr Lim founded his own company in 1911 and went on to establish rubber plantations and a rubber factory, as well as providing advice to other rubber estate owners. This was important to the development of an area which would eventually be named Nee Soon. He also contributed time and money to schools, hospitals and boards of government committees.
The Singapore Teochew Entrepreneur Award aims to honour Teochew entrepreneurs and promote the values of courage, perseverance, determination, diligence and innovation.
Applications are now open and will close on March 31.