Innovation crucial to economic recovery: Heng

New ventures can tackle challenges, harness opportunities in post-Covid-19 world: DPM

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat with BCG Digital Ventures Singapore head Peter Cho on a tour of the new BCG Digital Ventures Singapore campus in Rochester Park yesterday. Mr Heng congratulated BCG for bringing its Digital Ventures campus to Sing
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat with BCG Digital Ventures Singapore head Peter Cho on a tour of the new BCG Digital Ventures Singapore campus in Rochester Park yesterday. Mr Heng congratulated BCG for bringing its Digital Ventures campus to Singapore, saying it can add its broad range of expertise to the corporate venturing ecosystem in the Republic and South-east Asia. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Innovative ventures sprouting across the corporate landscape will provide crucial support to Singapore's recovery, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

These new ventures can tackle structural challenges and harness opportunities in the post-Covid-19 world, he said.

Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Finance Minister, was speaking at the launch of BCG Digital Ventures' (BCGDV) Rochester Park campus yesterday.

BCGDV is the innovation and digital business building arm of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It invents, launches, scales and invests in new industry-changing businesses with large companies.

Mr Heng said corporate venturing is one of the few ways to drive innovation, the pursuit of which will become even more indispensable as the economy navigates the current crisis and the challenges beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

"Investment in innovation has been and will always be a cornerstone of our economic policy, and a focus of our Budgets," he said, pointing out that the Government had already committed to investing $25 billion over the next five years in research, innovation and enterprise.

Mr Heng congratulated BCG for bringing its Digital Ventures campus to Singapore, saying that it can add its broad range of expertise to the corporate venturing ecosystem in the Republic and across the South-east Asia region.

"The new campus will create exciting new jobs for our people, both within BCG and in the new ventures that you are helping to incubate and grow," he said.

He noted that large firms have advantages that start-ups do not, such as access to customers, established supply chains and distribution channels, and a strong base of intellectual property and know-how.

"The challenge is to find creative ways to find synergies between the capabilities of these large corporates with the fresh and creative ideas of start-ups to create successful new ventures," he said.

The minister said BCGDV can significantly contribute to the Economic Development Board's efforts to partner large companies to create new ventures. The campus can also add to the momentum of Singapore's endeavour to build an ecosystem of venture studios to help firms that are new to the venturing process, he added.

BCG can also use Singapore as a base to partner large corporates in the region, where the digital economy is growing fast, he said.

He said Singapore is redoubling its efforts to strengthen its start-up ecosystem, which has already produced several unicorns, the latest being Nanofilm - an advanced materials tech spin-off from Nanyang Technological University that was listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in October last year.

"For budding entrepreneurs, we have Startup SG, which provides mentorship, funding and a whole range of support," he said, adding that the Government in August announced an additional $150 million to help start-ups get innovative ideas off the ground.

At the same time, the SMEs Go Digital programme will help the broad majority of companies and workers to adopt digital solutions, for which an additional $500 million was earmarked last year.

"This systems approach to innovation will give Singapore a competitive edge in a post-Covid world and I'm glad that BCG is contributing to our growth as a Global-Asia innovation node."

Mr Heng said that BCG is also helping two of Singapore's Alliances for Action - on edutech and sustainability - by facilitating ideation workshops. As part of the Alliance on Sustainability, BCG worked with DBS Bank and SGX on a joint three-month sprint to develop a voluntary carbon credit marketplace for Asia.

Alliances for Action are industry-led coalitions tasked to devise ideas and generate jobs in areas such as sustainability, robotics and education technology. They were established by the Emerging Stronger Taskforce, which was set up to study economic changes accelerated by the pandemic.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2021, with the headline 'Innovation crucial to economic recovery: Heng'. Subscribe