Singapore is fortunate to have started efforts to transform its economy early, as Covid-19 has accelerated changes in global supply chains and technology, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.
The coronavirus has triggered a "deep cyclical shock" and sped up changes in the global economy, Mr Heng told the House in his round-up speech after two days of debate on the Fortitude Budget.
"To thrive, or even to survive, companies all around the world must adjust to these forces with speed and agility," said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.
He noted that Singapore embarked on its structural transformation efforts early.
These include setting up the Committee on the Future Economy in 2015, and launching the Industry Transformation Maps across 23 sectors and six industry clusters from 2016.
Some business leaders said they have found it easier to pivot to new areas of opportunity, having embarked on transformation early, Mr Heng noted.
He said he had an e-conference with a group of start-ups and venture funds in Singapore last week, and remarked on their progress in seizing new opportunities, such as 3D-printing of instruments for swab tests, and telemedicine.
Mr Heng also shared examples of firms ranging from an artificial intelligence company to an alternative protein food start-up, which were branching into new areas during the current pandemic.
He noted that "the start-up mantra is to disrupt the world, to make it better".
"But with Covid-19 disrupting the world, it is good to see start-ups pivoting to enabling us to cope better with a disrupted world, with the right innovations."