Committee on the Future Economy report: Help companies access funding, scale up and become more innovative

The office crowd in Central Business District (CBD) in Singapore. Companies must continue to become more innovative and those with strong growth potential should receive support to scale up.
The office crowd in Central Business District (CBD) in Singapore. Companies must continue to become more innovative and those with strong growth potential should receive support to scale up.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore companies must continue to become more innovative and those with strong growth potential should receive support to scale up, the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) said in its report on Thursday (Feb 9).

"Our economy is only as strong and resilient as each of our enterprises can be competitive," the committee noted, adding that this effort requires government agencies, industry and other stakeholders to work together to build an ecosystem for innovation and enterprise growth.

The committee put forth a number of key recommendations aimed at developing the innovation ecosystem.

Firstly, it suggested that Singapore's intellectual property (IP) regime be strengthened to help enterprises commercialise research findings and IP from research institutions.

This includes growing the community of IP and commercialisation experts (such as lawyers, patent attorneys, valuers, managers and strategists), and developing a standardised IP protocol to be adopted by all public agencies and publicly-funded research performers - such as the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) institutes, autonomous universities and hospitals.

"We are starting from a position of strength. We already have a critical mass of high-tech sectors in Singapore, a vibrant startup and financing ecosystem, world-renowned universities and research institutions, and a strong global pool of research scientists and engineers," the report noted.

The committee also called for further boosts to the start-up ecosystem by enhancing mentorship, helping to raise the profile of Singapore start-ups, and expanding the entrepreneurial pipeline.

 

This means remaining open to entrepreneurial talent from around the world, and facilitating mentorship and networking within the start-up community so experienced individuals can work with up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

The report also contained recommendations aimed at helping companies grow and expand overseas.

The committeecalled for deeper collaboration between large and small enterprises, for instance through corporate venture funds.

"Promising start-ups identified by such corporate venture strategies can not only gain funding, but also be able to tap into scaled-up corporate capabilities and networks," the report noted.

The committee also suggested that high-growth enterprises receive more dedicated and customised support when venturing abroad.

Growing companies need funds, it said. "For enterprises based here to scale up, more smart and patient growth capital - long-term capital which brings along ideas and expertise - is needed," the report said.

"We should encourage a variety of private sector funding sources, including banks, venture capital funds and private equity funds. Where appropriate, the Government can partner these funds to invest for growth."

A simpler regulatory framework for venture capital firms would help boost the ecosystem here, the committee said, adding that the Government should also look into encouraging more private equity firms to invest growth capital inSingapore-based companies looking to regionalise.

The committee suggested a private market platform for Asian enterprises to access financing from a wider network of investors.

It also said the Government should permit dual-class share structures for listed companies, while instituting appropriate safeguards to promote market transparency and mitigate governance risks.

The report called on the Government to strengthen access to cross-border project financing for Singapore-based enterprises expanding overseas.

"The Government should build on...(efforts such as) Clifford Capital, to address long-standing challenges in cross-border project financing for infrastructure projects while ensuring that risk decisions remain in the hands of the private sector," the committee said.

The sum of all these efforts should create a "strong base of globally competitive enterprises", which will in turn "support our economy to grow and create good jobs", the report added.