Innovation remains key to success: Koh Poh Koon

It is not limited to large businesses or high-tech sectors, he stresses

Innovation remains a critical ingredient of business success, especially with disruptive forces affecting Singapore's industries today, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon. Such disruptive forces include new technologies, tighter operating constraints and changes in consumer demand patterns.

Speaking at the Emerging Enterprise Award event yesterday, Dr Koh stressed the importance of having the right mindset towards innovation.

Most would traditionally think that only big companies could afford, and undertake, innovation, he said. However, he cited the 15 award finalists as examples of how innovation is not limited to large firms.

Dr Koh also emphasised that innovation should not be restricted to companies in deep technology sectors like biomedical sciences, healthcare or deep engineering. Thinking that way would be "seriously wrong", he said.

"There are many things that we can do, and having this kind of mindset that technology innovation can only be in high-tech sectors is unnecessarily limiting to business owners, especially those who may be in a traditional sector looking to transform," Dr Koh said.

"We need to look beyond just the technology itself and look at the application of technology - and see how we can leverage that to gain active business opportunities and enter new markets."

At the Emerging Enterprise Award event last night were (from left) Big Tiny co-founder Adrian Chia, Mighty Jaxx founder Jackson Aw, Whizpace founder and CEO Oh Ser Wah, EndoMaster CEO Goh Seow Ping, OCBC head of global commercial banking Linus Goh, S
At the Emerging Enterprise Award event last night were (from left) Big Tiny co-founder Adrian Chia, Mighty Jaxx founder Jackson Aw, Whizpace founder and CEO Oh Ser Wah, EndoMaster CEO Goh Seow Ping, OCBC head of global commercial banking Linus Goh, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, The Business Times editor Wong Wei Kong, Engine Biosciences CEO Jeffrey Lu, FOMO Pay chief operating officer Zack Yang, AEVice Health CEO Adrian Ang and XM Studios co-founder Ben Ang. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

For their innovative spirit, FOMO Pay, AEvice Health and XM Studios were lauded last night as the top three winners. FOMO Pay provides QR code payment solutions, AEvice Health develops wearable devices for people with asthma, while XM Studios designs and produces handcrafted luxury art collectables.

Aside from the main prize, three companies were also recognised for Best Innovation. They are: EndoMaster, which aims to create the world's first flexible robotic system for endoluminal surgery to treat early stage gastrointestinal cancer; Engine Biosciences, which uses data analytics and machine learning to speed up the discovery of new drugs; and Whizpace, which taps unused television broadcasting airwaves, known as TV white space, to transport data.

NEED TO TAP TECHNOLOGY

We need to look beyond just the technology itself and look at the application of technology - and see how we can leverage that to gain active business opportunities and enter new markets.

SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY KOH POH KOON

Local designer toy studio Mighty Jaxx and builder of small, eco-friendly homes for rent Big Tiny also bagged the Most Promising Start-up Award.

The annual awards - jointly organised by The Business Times and OCBC Bank - celebrate Singapore's young businesses with annual sales turnover of up to $20 million.

The awards are supported by Acorn Marketing and Research Consultants, Enterprise Singapore, Insead, Mastercard, RSM Chio Lim, Singtel and Wavemaker.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2018, with the headline 'Innovation remains key to success: Koh Poh Koon'. Print Edition | Subscribe