Lim Swee Say, Acting Minister for Environment and Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology - Address, iLIUP Recognition Night 2001, Raffles City Convention Centre ...
Lim Swee Say, Acting Minister for Environment and Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology - Address iLIUP Recognition Night 2001, Raffles City Convention Centre
Singapore, 4 October 2001
Three years ago, I began nearly every speech by referring to the regional economic crisis. Nowadays, I begin nearly every speech by talking about the global cyclical downturn.
Today, there is no need for me to do so as everyone here is quite well aware of what our economy is going through. I would like to go straight to talk about what we can do to make the most out of this global cyclical downturn.
Simply put, the total value chain of an economy is made up of three major components. These are: upstream R&D, mid-stream innovation development, and downstream commercialisation and production. Developing economies usually start with downstream activities, and work their way up.
Singapore is no exception. Our pro-business environment has made us a leading hub for production and business services in the region and globally. The challenge confronting us today and the future is to expand our capability profile, beyond downstream capabilities and value adding.
We need to move up the economic ladder, towards midstream and upstream. We need to become better in technology development and innovation, for us to become a nation of value creators capable of creating new products and services for new markets to generate sustainable revenues.
For the infocomm sector, IDA has put in place several programmes to encourage our industry players, big and small, to engage in the development of innovative products and delivery of innovative services. These programmes include the Innovation Development Scheme (IDS in short), the Infocomm Local Industry Upgrading Programme (iLIUP), the E-Business Industry Development Scheme (eBIDS), and the Pilot and Trial Hotspots Programme (PATH).
Innovation Through Partnership
The response to these programmes has been positive. Last year, 25 projects received funding support from IDA. This year, the number has exceeded 30 in the first 9 months. As we go through the global downturn, we must not allow the pace of innovation to slow down. Instead, we should work together to speed up the pace of innovation so that our Infocomm industry will be better positioned for the eventual upturn, when it comes about.
We are fully aware that more companies may be faced with limited resources and budgets. Many will therefore find it increasingly difficult to innovate on their own amidst the current economic climate. More and more industry players have therefore decided to come together, share risks, and leverage on each other's strengths in innovation and market access.
This fostering of partnership is an effective way of speeding up the pace of innovation during this period of business downturn. Programmes such as the iLIUP can be an effective mechanism to help nurture such partnerships in the industry.
iLIUP facilitates technology transfer and joint development of new capabilities, products and services between our local enterprises and Singapore-based MNCs. It enables these networks of enterprises to lower the costs of development and shorten the time-to-market for their inventions.
Working as a network, they can also make better use of various incentive schemes for manpower development, innovation development and market development, and react more responsively in a fast changing market.
One example of a successful partnership is Trek 2000 and Apple Computer. Trek2000 is a local company that provides digital electronic solutions. It has developed the world's smallest storage device - Thumb Drive. Designed and developed in Singapore, Thumb Drive can store between 8-128 MB of data.
By leveraging on Apple Computer's core competency, Trek 2000 is able to design and test the software driver on iMAC, in addition to the Windows platform. This partnership between Trek2000 and Apple Computer has led to new solutions and expanded market opportunities.
Besides a "one-to-one" partnership between a Singapore enterprise and an MNC, our local enterprises can also benefit from working with a group of MNCs under an inter-iLIUP partnership.
Take Knowledge Touch for example. Its expertise is in the development of optimised scheduler engine. By working with leading MNCs such as iLOG, Oracle and Sun Microsystems, Knowledge Touch has succeeded in creating a manpower optimisation engine. This engine has been adopted by some Fortune 500 companies and major system integrators. Knowledge Touch is also able to tap into the marketing channels of its MNC partners to reach out to the global market.
These two examples illustrate the mutually beneficial partnerships between our local enterprises and Singapore-based MNCs. Today, I am happy to see the signing up of 9 new iLIUP partners in addition to the current 9 partners, bringing the number of iLIUP MNC partners to 18. They are BEA Systems, CISCO Systems, Computer Associates, Hewlett Packard, IBM, InfoTalk, Point Information Systems, Progress Software Corporation and Webgain Inc. I welcome all of them to iLIUP. The IDA will provide an additional budget of $8 million to support this expanding network of partnership.
Trial Deployment of Innovation
Besides speeding up the development of innovation, the IDA is also looking for new and better ways to speed up the early deployment of innovation.
In May this year, the IDA introduced the PATH programme to encourage the early deployment of promising innovation in Singapore. Under the present arrangement, IDA needs a few weeks to a few months to process and assess these project proposals.
Today, I am pleased to share with you that the IDA has decided to take another step forward to strengthen our private-public sector partnership so as to speed up the trial deployment of innovative services and products.
IDA will encourage leading industry players to establish PATH Assessment Centres to promote and support project proposals from our industry and local enterprises. These Assessment Centres will evaluate and support these proposals before recommending them to IDA for funding endorsement.
This alliance between IDA and the industry leaders will enable our local enterprises to better leverage on the resources, strengths, market access and the reputation of the industry leaders more responsively. This will not only speed up the pace of trial deployment, but also improve the chances of success.
To get this new private-public sector partnership moving, IDA has appointed Ericsson Cyber Lab as the first PATH Assessment Centre. We hope other industry leaders will come forward to take advantage of this new partnership arrangement.
I would like to end by quoting Robert Heller, an American editor, who said "spare the innovation and ruin the company". I thank you all for your support and participation in iLIUP. Working in partnership, we can move upstream together, and turn Singapore into a leading innovation hub in the New Economy. Thank you.