Singapore should plug into innovation networks: Chan Chun Sing

Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing (left) and French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Dr Frédérique Vidal shaking hands in Paris, on July 13, 2018. Singapore can learn much from the French, and use the French network to develop products. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

PARIS • With the pace of technological development intensifying, Singapore should seize opportunities to plug itself into innovation networks around the world, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Thursday.

He added that doing so would help further Singapore's cause to create better jobs for its people and more opportunities for its businesses.

Mr Chan was speaking to Singapore media after he visited Station F in Paris, the world's largest start-up campus.

He said what he saw had given him some food for thought on how the Singapore innovation system can tackle certain challenges.

For instance, Station F has technopreneurs, investors and incubators from around the world, and Singapore can learn how the French attract these people to work in France and use the French network to develop products, said Mr Chan.

French government officials who were sent to Station F to help the start-ups have also become part of the start-up system there, developing the new rules and regulations needed for new businesses and technologies, he added, saying that it was an idea Singapore could explore.

"You can't use old rules to regulate new business models. So, the question is how do you build this culture across public service - how do you innovate regulation so that it becomes your advantage?"

While at Station F, Mr Chan also witnessed the signing of three agreements that aim to help start-ups from both countries to expand their business into each other's markets and deepen ties.

They included deals between the Economic Development Board and Enterprise Singapore with French partners such as the Essec Business School, start-up incubator Creative Valley, and Bpifrance, an agency charged with developing French companies by providing assistance and financial support.

Under these deals, start-ups from both countries will get help in gaining a foothold in each other's markets, and companies from both sides pursuing joint innovation projects will also get financial support, among other things.

Mr Chan said the deals are part of Singapore's effort to build a Global Innovation Alliance so that start-ups in Singapore have access to opportunities in other innovation nodes around the world.

Yesterday morning, Mr Chan and the French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Frederique Vidal witnessed the inking of several other agreements that will see Singapore and France strengthening cooperation in the areas of research and development, artificial intelligence, student exchanges and energy.

Yasmine Yahya

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2018, with the headline Singapore should plug into innovation networks: Chan Chun Sing. Subscribe