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Faster Innovation Through Closer Collaboration

Lim Swee Say, Acting Minister for Environment and Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology - Speech, Launch of the NYP-CISCO IP Convergence ...

Lim Swee Say, Acting Minister for Environment and Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology - Speech, Launch of the NYP-CISCO IP Convergence

Singapore, 13 November 2001

Mr Lin Cheng Ton, Principal & CEO, Nanyang Polytechnic,
Mr Lou McElwain, Vice President, Field Sales Operations, Asia Pacific, Cisco Systems,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


The coming months will be a difficult time for the world economy. Singapore is also not spared from this global downturn.

Nevertheless, our top priority remains, and that is - "Remaking Singapore". We are determined to face the economic challenges head on, and to quickly institute the necessary structural changes to ensure that Singapore comes out from this recession in the best way possible.

As we transform into a knowledge-based economy and innovation driven society, we recognise that technology is a critical enabler to improve our competitiveness. Singapore-based companies, big and small, need to collaborate more and innovate faster, so that the Singapore economy can forge ahead when the global economy picks up.

Faster Innovation Through Closer Collaboration

We started promoting innovation in a concerted manner some ten years ago. The NSTB embarked on the Research Development Assistance Scheme (RDAS) in the early 90's, while the EDB launched the Innovation Development Scheme (IDS) in the mid 90's.

Over the years, we have nurtured a growing pool of innovators in our Singapore-based companies, which include MNCs, GLCs and Local Enterprises. The pace of progress has been encouraging, judging from the increasing number of innovation development projects supported by the various economic agencies.

As we go through the downturn, we are fully aware that more companies will find it a challenge to sustain their investment in innovation because of tighter cash flow and declining revenues and profits. Notwithstanding this, we must not allow the pace of innovation to slow down, otherwise, we will find ourselves caught in an even more difficult position when the global market eventually turns around.

So instead of slowing down, we should take advantage of our strengths and surge ahead as fast as possible. We should capitalise on the resource commitments of the various economic agencies; the presence of 6,000 MNCs here; and our excellent knowledge infrastructure built over the years.

Our local enterprises can leverage on the technological know-how of MNCs, and quickly equip themselves with valuable skill sets in emerging technologies to develop new applications and services. They can also gain access to the international networks of the MNCs and expand more quickly beyond the Singapore market.

Likewise, MNCs based in Singapore can tap on the innovative capability of our local enterprises and their knowledge of the local and regional markets. Together, they can jointly develop new markets, and come up with customised products and services ahead of the competition to expand our economic pie.

In other words, our local enterprises should not look at the presence of MNCs and the growth of GLCs as a zero sum game. In this highly competitive global economy, we can all benefit from closer collaboration and faster pace of innovation with our partners. The stronger our partners are, the more competitive we can be.

In this collaborative framework between the local enterprises and the MNCs, GLCs and major corporations, there is a major role for the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs). Our IHLs can help to identify the manpower needs in the economy, build up our manpower capabilities, and develop specialised knowledge in key technology areas.

Our IHL can also facilitate closer collaboration between global corporations and our local enterprises. In this respect, we encourage the setting up of competency centers such as the Nanyang Polytechnic-Cisco Internet Protocol Convergence Lab to serve as a platform to nurture collaborative activities. As a regional facility, the Lab can also tap on the expertise outside of Singapore, and enrich the Lab with more diversified viewpoints and innovative ideas to our advantage.

NYP-Cisco Internet Protocol (IP) Convergence Lab

Convergence networks based on Internet Protocol, or IP, represent an important development in communications. No one disputes the important role of the Internet in global communications. IP is the fundamental building block for the Internet, and the mechanism by which packet traffic is sent from network to network.

With the advent of digitisation technologies, IP-based networks now have the capability to carry voice, video and data traffic over the same system - hence the term "convergence". Converged networks have tremendous advantages over traditional networks. They simplify network management, reduce operating costs, and open up new business opportunities for service providers, businesses and consumers.

We can therefore expect to see more companies and businesses pursuing growing opportunities in convergence technologies. The new IP Convergence Lab can help to facilitate technology transfer, training of local developers, and pilot implementation of new applications and innovative concepts. It will be a valuable resource and partner for our local enterprises in the development of leading edge solutions.

Path Assessment Centres

We are pleased to see that Cisco Systems is firmly behind this project with the forward-looking Nanyang Polytechnic. To show our support and commitment, I am pleased that the IDA has decided to set aside $2m of incentive grants to support pilot projects undertaken through the NYP-Cisco IP Convergence Lab. IDA has also decided to extend the same level of support to the Application Service Provider Centre, which was opened in July this year. We are confident that NYP-CISCO IP Convergence Lab, together with other PATH Assessment Centres, will help improve the quality of innovation development, and speed up the pace of innovation deployment in our economy and society.


We should not allow the economic downturn to slowdown our efforts in innovation development and deployment. Instead, we should do more to pool the resources and expertise of Singapore-based companies - MNCs, GLCs and local enterprises, with that of various economic agencies, institutes of higher learning and research institutions. With closer collaboration, we will be able to innovate faster and better meet the challenges of the new economic climate with confidence and determination.

My heartiest congratulations to Nanyang Polytechnic and Cisco Systems on the launch of this NYP-CISCO IP Convergence Lab. Thank you.