By Nurdianah Md Nur
Aug. 22, 2016
"With IE Singapore's support, Ascent has taken [the lock] to East Africa. From Kenya to Uganda it used to take 20 days [for a container] to travel, because it had to clear 10 checkpoints along the way. With the tamper-proof lock, there is no need to clear customs over and over again, so it takes only two days," claimed PM Lee.
"We must build this sort of new, deep capabilities in every sector - engineering, food manufacturing, logistics. And the government will support companies to do so," he added.
PM Lee also highlighted the importance of entrepreneurs for Singapore's growth.
"Entrepreneurs play an important role - not just because they're doing business for themselves and doing well, and creating jobs and prosperity, but also because they are resourceful and optimistic; they give our society the confidence that anything is possible. And we need that mindset (ie. through our own actions we can change the world and if we fail, we try again until we succeed)," asserted PM Lee.
To encourage such a mindset, the government launched an incubator at Block 71, Ayer Rajah, five years ago. Besides renting out the facility to entrepreneurs and startups, the government also offers co-funding to such companies.
One company that benefitted from this initiative was Zimplistic, which developed an automatic chapati and roti maker called Rotimatic. "With SPRING's help, the product was brought to market and garnered a lot of interest internationally", said PM Lee.
Spurred by the success of Block 71, Singapore also opened a similar facility in San Francisco "to help Singapore startups tap the U.S. market and the Silicon Valley network", he added.
PM Lee also highlighted that Singapore schools are giving students access to innovation hotspots all over the world. "By offering students opportunities to attend classes at overseas universities, interact with startup founders and angel investors, as well as intern with those startups, students might get bitten by the [innovation] bug and try something to change the world."
Besides having capabilities and entrepreneurs, a strong economy also requires a skilled workforce, noted PM Lee.
"When we give our workforce skills, it'll enable them to hold better jobs and earn better pay. Skillfuture is thus crucial. We are preparing our students well for the new economy - equipping them with relevant skills which are in demand. At the same time, we are offering courses to upgrade those already working and help them achieve deeper mastery. Not just courses but pathways to upgrade in their job," he added.
Besides that, PM Lee highlighted that the Singapore government is also helping workers who are retrenched or have changed careers to transition and find new jobs. This is done via programmes under Singapore's Workforce Development Agency's (WDA) Adapt and Grow initiative such as the Professional Conversion Programme.
"These are the ways our economy, and our workers, can thrive amidst disruption. This is how we can progress together, and thrive in a competitive and dangerous world," said PM Lee.