S'pore looks to alliances to boost local industries

update Singapore's Economic Development Board plans to form partnerships with 10 organizations such as Singapore Business Federation to bring in more global midsize businesses and Asian enterprises and grow country's industry clusters.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

update SINGAPORE--The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) aims to attract global midsize companies and Asian enterprises into the city-state by partnering facilitators that will help these businesses set up shop in the city-state.

According to S. Jayakumar, Singapore's senior minister and coordinating minister for national security, these two business groups have less resources to drive their expansion strategies and require facilitation when venturing into new and unfamiliar markets.

With this in mind, he lauded the EDB for announcing their plans to partner 10 local facilitators over the next six months, with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) roped in as its first partner.

Speaking at the Global Entrepolis @ Singapore Summit here Thursday, Jayakumar said: "With the entry of these new companies, we will be able to grow and enhance our existing industry clusters. Local SMBs (small and midsize businesses) can also benefit from striking partnerships with these global midsize companies and Asian enterprises."

The SBF was chosen because of its interaction with international business communities and the role it plays in facilitating global companies keen to enter the Singapore market through its ties with international chambers and government agencies, according to the EDB.

Senior Minister Jayakumar also pointed to the S$16.1 billion (US$12.3 billion) investment fund announced last month to drive research, innovation and enterprise development. The amount is a 20 percent increase over the S$13.6 billion (US$10.4 billion) Singapore spent over the past five years as part of the government's commitment to research and development (R&D), and its willingness to open the doors for foreign companies to establish presence here.

Time to reform business landscape
At the Global Entrepolis summit, Sam Pitroda, advisor to India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on public information infrastructure and innovations, also called for companies to reshape the current economic infrastructure.

He pointed out that today's capitalist market is "not sustainable" and the various financial as well as international institutions such as the United Nations, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), were set up to help sustain only 300 million to 500 million people. With the burgeoning middle-class in countries such as China and India, and a human population inching upward to 6 billion, this economic system needs to be restructured, Pitroda urged.

The issue is further exacerbated when "all the brightest minds" in the world, instead of working on alleviating the challenges faced by the poor, are busy solving the problems of the rich--a group which he noted "doesn't have many problems [associated with basic life necessities] anyway".

To better meet "21st century needs", Pitroda called for business and government leaders to view innovation as a platform to introduce the change needed. He singled out the Internet as a key tool in bringing about new opportunities to societies that would otherwise be mired in poverty and hunger.

He cited the education sector as an example, where the Internet has changed the role of the teacher and the act of learning. Previously, teachers were seen as the "deliverer of content" to students but with the Internet becoming prevalent, the act of learning and sourcing for information has been extended beyond the classroom. Today, teachers need to evolve and take on the role of the mentor and teach students how to use the information on the Web in a useful manner, he noted.

Pitroda also urged leaders to help build the necessary ecosystem to ensure innovation can flourish. Education, a pool of willing investors and the space for startups to sandbox their creations are all necessary components to foster a creative environment, he said.

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