Government unveils plans to spur innovation and enterprise

Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security, and Chairman of National Research Foundation speaking during the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology. ST PHOTO: GERALDINE GOH

The Government is directing billions of dollars into a strategy aimed at spurring innovation and helping companies bring new technological developments to market.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday that $4 billion out of the $19 billion allocated for the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan will be directed to collaboration so that enterprises can capture the value of research and development (R&D). The plan, announced in January, directs funds into science and technology research over the next five years.

Mr Teo told participants at the opening of the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology: "We can do more to bring innovations from R&D to market, seeding and growing enterprises and further expanding high-tech exports.

"To facilitate such collaboration, technology consortia, which bring together industry partners and researchers, will help focus applied research to develop new products and services."

Mr Teo backed up the strategy yesterday when launching the Singapore Cyber Security Consortium and the Singapore Consortium for Synthetic Biology.

Both consortia will be hosted by the National University of Singapore and funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) to bolster start-ups and promote the commercialisation of what they develop.

Mr Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security and NRF chairman, said the Government will strengthen support for Singapore-based enterprises through an integrated assistance scheme offered by various agencies.

"We will set aside $4.5 billion under the Industry Transformation Programme over the next five years, on top of the amounts for R&D. These efforts will help enterprises innovate and internationalise their products and services."

Mr Teo said efforts will be made to strengthen connections between innovators and investors, with growing support from venture and private equity funds. "A new entity, SG-Innovate, will work with our agencies to expand accelerator programmes to new and emerging sectors such as smart energy, digital manufacturing, fintech, digital health and the Internet of Things. Budding entrepreneurs can meet mentors, venture capital firms and access R&D talent."

Mr Teo said Singapore can also help connect global enterprises and serve as a launch pad into the region and beyond, adding that such measures will generate a strong pipeline of innovative products and services. "Our innovation and enterprise ecosystem will benefit from the increasing exchanges between innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and enterprises," he said.

"Enterprises can tap our comprehensive network of 20 implemented free trade agreements with 31 trading partners to venture abroad."

NRF chief executive Low Teck Seng said, after the event launch at Resorts World Sentosa, that the collaboration can generate "exciting" intellectual property and potentially lead to patents.

"Apart from using R&D to solve national challenges, we would like to use the knowledge and technologies to develop solutions that can also contribute towards addressing issues faced by others around the world," added Professor Low.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2016, with the headline Government unveils plans to spur innovation and enterprise. Subscribe