Singapore aims to drive innovation with $1B fund

Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and state-owned equity firm, Makara Capital, have set up a S$1 billion (US$716.34 million) fund to help promising companies develop locally and expand globally.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore has establish a S$1 billion (US$716.34 million) fund to help promising companies develop their business locally and expand overseas.

The launch was part of several new initiatives the government planned to roll out to spur innovation and drive economic growth in the country.

The Makara Innovation Fund (MIF) was set up by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos) and Makara Capital, which was a fund management firm under the purview of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

The new fund would "target high-growth companies with strong IP (intellectual property) and proven business models", using Singapore as a base for their growth and launchpad for global expansion, said Ipos in a joint statement released Wednesday with the Ministry of Law.

The MIF aimed to invest between S$30 million (US$21.49 million) and S$150 million (US$107.45 million) in 10 to 15 "high-growth potential" companies that had "globally competitive technologies". These businesses could hail from other global markets, including Singapore, but would have to tap the country's IP infrastructure to develop their technologies and expand into global markets.

Dubbing it as a "from Singapore and through Singapore" model, Ipos said the fund would seek to establish the country as a hub to convert innovative ideas into profitable commercial offerings.

The scheme was part of the government's growth strategy outlined in the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) report, which included recommendations for IP to be tapped as a key driver of economic development. This led to a review of the country's 10-year IP Hub Master Plan, first unveiled in 2013, to better support the local innovation ecosystem and build capabilities to help businesses innovate and scale up.

The masterplan aimed to position Singapore as a global IP hub in Asia, providing assistance in IP transactions and management, quality IP filings, and IP dispute resolution. Its initiatives were projected to generate more than S$1.5 billion (US$1.07 billion) in value-add services locally over five years and double the pool of IP skillsets to 1,000.

Singapore Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah said: "IP is going to be an important enabler of Singapore's growth moving forward. It protects business innovation and, thereby, encourages commercialisation.

"We will focus on helping enterprises to integrate IP into their business strategies early, and to commercialise their IP and scale up. As our businesses expand into international markets, they should take advantage of the international IP networks and connectivity that we have built up," the minister said.

Apart from the MIF, Ipos said it also was partnering the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to spur business growth through IP and innovation. The collaboration aimed to build up awareness and competencies inIP among0 the federation's 25,000 members as well as provide access to Ipos' IP-related services, including training and workshops.

SBF CEO Ho Meng Kit said Singapore businesses must "systematically create, manage, and leverage" their IP to ensure their competitiveness in the global marketplace. "IP is vital to the success of businesses; it is intangible yet highly valuable in its ability to set businesses apart from their competitors," Ho added.

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