Commentary by: The Observer
2 June 2016 Thur
The 5th EBD-ST Forum was held recently to discuss a new direction to be adopted by the Economic Development Board (EDB) as one of the key drivers for Singapore’s future economy prospect. The Straits Times has published the content of the forum on 28 May 2016.
It is noted that EDB seems to have developed a huge appetite of creating billion-dollar businesses from within the island state’s new startups, in today’s highly competitive and technology-driven arena.
They seem to ignore one thing in South-east Asia’s richer and maturing markets. That this region is very lacking of sizeable Risk-capital investments in new startups. Hence, the real issue here is more of how to attract sustainable funding from outside SE Asia.
The forum rightfully pointed out that Singapore would remain a small domestic market. Therfore, in my view it is paramount that any new innovation or startups must be able to tap onto external markets immediately in order to create sizeable demands and sustainability; before any hope to become a future billion-dollar business.
Paradoxically, unless innovations are truly disruptive or be at least at the technology forefront that can impact on large markets, there’s no chance of (new startups) stepping up to the regional platform. They will be knocked out in the first round!
Therefore EDB should not continue to think in the old ways of attracting Bricks & Mortar capital investments. Crowd-funding/ Kisckstarters should be a vital part of EDB’s operating strategy.
Chairman of EDB (Dr. Beh) rightly pointed out that a drastic change of Singaporean mindset is necessary for Singapore’s future prospect.
What Singaporean Core would mean is the concept of Mobility With A Broad Landscape View (宏观大思维). That involves much greater cultural and economic synergies among the citizens and permanent residents (PR). EDB should also look into greater collaboration with other ministries besides focusing on economic front.
In summary, can EDB deliver in its new job?
Yes provided it scans the technology landscape thoroughly and leverage on right sources of stimulus for innovations and develop funding channels and network. Any form of innovation hypes without scalability (大能量) will not be sustainable. And innovations do not come from highly organized environment…