Entrepreneur itch

Efforts by universities here to encourage entrepreneurship attest to its enduring importance in a knowledge-driven economy. The National University of Singapore has announced an additional investment in its entrepreneurial arm. Nanyang Technological University has a five-year plan to turn the technological innovations of its students and teachers into commercial successes. These plans tie in well with the Economic Development Board's vision of the country as an innovation centre for multinational corporations moving to Asia. Entrepreneurial initiatives help to place Singapore on the trajectory of advanced economic development, much as top entrepreneurial institutions such as Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley and Cornell University do for the United States.

Yet, the entrepreneurial push should not be limited to those in universities but should start much earlier. British children, for example, are being prepared for a digital future through a decision to make coding a compulsory subject for pupils in publicly funded schools from the age of five. The point is to make young people capable of using computers as a tool for the explorations of their own minds, instead of making them passive consumers of already created technology - this being the whole point of turning technological curiosity into a viable basis of commercial entrepreneurship.

It is reassuring that Singapore is not ignoring younger students. Under a Spring Singapore programme, for instance, polytechnics, ITE and junior colleges, as well as secondary and primary schools, can tap into generous grants to help youngsters discover their own entrepreneurial destiny. These institutions should view the financial opportunities as an invitation to secure Singapore's collective economic future, and enthuse their wards accordingly. But, intervening between the State and its encouragement, and the market and its ruthlessness, it is society that can make all the difference by standing by entrepreneurs who fail. There is nothing like an initial setback to spur the adventurous to seek new trails.