Creating a business-friendly environment to encourage innovation

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat at Daikin Singapore's 50th anniversary gala dinner on Oct 12, 2018. ST PHOTO: WEE JIN ONG

SINGAPORE - The Government wants to work with trade associations and companies to create a business-friendly environment for enterprises to grow and innovate, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education, Mr Chee Hong Tat.

Speaking at the 50th anniversary dinner on Friday (Oct 12) of air-conditioning company Daikin Singapore, Mr Chee said when businesses do well, good jobs are created and companies contribute tax revenue to support Singapore's security and social spending needs.

"This has been the Singapore Government's position all these years since our independence in 1965, and it remains the case now and in the future," he added.

To support a pro-enterprise and pro-innovation economy, rules and regulations need to be regularly reviewed in order to support innovation.

He said in a world with rapid technological changes and rising global competition, smart regulation can be one of Singapore's competitive advantages, "together with our other attributes like a stable government, trusted brand name and excellent connectivity".

"It can also help to encourage mindset shifts in society where we are more open to taking calculated risks and trying new ideas, and accepting some failure along the way," Mr Chee added.

Among the new ideas, he cited the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) use of technology, which has helped to reduce compliance costs.

The authority introduced an app to speed up the process of verifying construction material supplies, which means its officers no longer need to physically visit sites.

Mr Chee said besides cost savings, the pro-enterprise approach has led to increased efficiency and productivity for both BCA and the companies, and also enhanced safety for the workers.

This approach has also seen public sector agencies reviewing and lifting traditional procurement rules in selected areas.

He said one procurement approach involves "sandboxing".

"We want to encourage firms with good and innovative ideas or business models to come forward and work together with our agencies to test out these ideas."

"Within the sandbox, agencies have the flexibility to experiment and try different procurement approaches, so long as they adhere to key procurement principles," explained Mr Chee.

Noting that Daikin Singapore is a company which "invests heavily in technology to ensure that innovative and up-to-date solutions" are delivered to customers, he said the company can test good ideas or technological solutions under such a regulatory sandboxing environment.

In his speech, managing director of Daikin Singapore Liu Shaw Jiun said the Japanese air-conditioner manufacturer, which set up business in Singapore in 1968, will continue to innovate to bring Smart Solutions to consumers.

"In this era of accelerating technological advances, evolution of Smart trends will bring about rapidly changing domestic demographics. Therefore, connecting people and goods becomes important."

"User interface and Internet of things will enhance the value of user experience and become increasingly vital for our future business," he said.

With technological changes, Mr Chee urged companies to partner the Government in reskilling workers.

"I am also delighted to hear that Daikin has proactively helped your workers to upgrade their skills by sending them to Workforce Skills Qualifications-accredited courses," he said.

Mr Chee added that companies are often the first to sense changes needed in skill sets required for their business operations and know what are the existing skills gaps in the workforce.

Daikin currently has business in over 150 countries, with more than 90 production bases and over 75,000 employees.

Around 800 guests were present at the golden jubilee gala dinner, which was held at Shangri-La Hotel.

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