Ladies and Gentlemen
1. It gives me great pleasure to be here at the inaugural ACE-Exploit Technologies Investor Forum 2012. I am encouraged to see so many of you here.
2. Just last month, I announced that ACE has established the ACE Tech-Connect task force to help more technology firms stand out from the crowd. The ACE Tech-Connect task force will link enterprises with a ready pool of technology ideas and connect them with potential partners and investors. Today’s event is one of the first steps towards this goal.
3. In order to grow the economy, the Government is focused on seeding and nurturing innovative start-ups and cultivating entrepreneurship, A pipeline of promising enterprises can support our economy and create good jobs for Singaporeans. In order to do more to equip our companies with the know-how to innovate and improve, we need a holistic public-private approach. This event is a good example of how public agencies can come together to build a more robust support infrastructure for local enterprises. We must continue to encourage collaboration among agencies and companies to build a more vibrant ecosystem that will improve the pipeline of start-ups.
PRIVATE AND PUBLIC FUNDING ARE CRUCIAL – AND AVAILABLE
4. Start-up funding is crucial for all budding entrepreneurs. The objective of this inaugural ACE-ETPL forum is to link start-ups with potential partners and investors. There will be more than 10 start-up teams who will be presenting their plans to angel investors, entrepreneurs, incubators, academics and other like-minded individuals in the audience today. In previous editions of the Investor Forum organised by Exploit Technologies, A*STAR spin-off companies such as LinkStar and MP4SLS went on to secure more than US$2.5million and S$1million of external funding respectively. I hope to hear more of such successful start-up stories from today’s session and future events.
5. Apart from investor funding, the Government encourages idea creation and innovation through schemes such as SPRING’s Innovation Voucher Scheme, or IVS for short, which has benefited close to 700 companies to date. Building upon the success of the IVS, SPRING has expanded the IVS into a new scheme called the Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV), which I announced at the Committee of Supplies Debates in March. I am pleased to share that SPRING will accept applications from today. The $5,000 voucher can be used to pay for consultancy services in fundamental areas like human resource development, financial management, productivity, and innovation.
6. Public funding opportunities are comprehensive, wide-ranging and available. I encourage all local businesses to take advantage of this opportunity to upgrade yourselves.
BRINGING TECHNOLOGY TO THE MARKETPLACE
7. Another key ingredient for successful start-ups is technology development. R&D is an important part of Singapore’s economic strategy and we have now built up a significant base of science and knowledge which is an arsenal for future innovations. However, good R&D will remain in the laboratory if it is not translated into industry applications. Therefore, one of the key thrusts in our Research, Innovation and Enterprise, or RIE2015 plan, is to strengthen support for commercialisation, to spur the development of new products and services for economic and social benefit.
8. Here in A*STAR, Exploit Technologies helps to turn cutting-edge ideas into marketable solutions. Exploit Technologies matches the R&D capability and technologies from A*STAR research institutes with enterprises looking for competitive edge. They forge collaborations with companies to develop prototypes, perform validation studies, and bring the technology closer to market. At the same time, the Exploit Technologies also supports budding A*STAR technopreneurs by nurturing and educating potential start-ups and providing access to funding and mentors so they can grow into sustainable businesses. Exploit Technologies also organises events such as this forum to inspire entrepreneurship.
9. I have had the pleasure of witnessing the signing ceremony of five new start-ups, four of which are A*STAR spin-offs, just before this forum. These companies are proof of how good technology can be successfully translated into the marketplace, providing novel solutions and applications across different industry sectors.
10.One of them is Sofshell. The company, a spin-off from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, has developed a unique material that can withstand high-impact loads yet remain malleable. I understand the founders Elgin and Davy took advantage of funding from Exploit Technologies to develop a prototype and has already secured SPRING’s Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme or TECS funding, to start their company with a viable and relevant product. Companies dealing in sportswear, healthcare and ballistic applications have already expressed interest in this smart padding. And Sofshell has already won prestigious awards at TechVenture and the inaugural DEMO Asia this year. I am certain this is only the beginning of a successful and fulfilling journey for them.
11.Another example is LDR Pte Ltd, which stands for Learning & Development Resources Ptd Ltd. They are a start-up that first licensed technology from the A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research to develop interactive learning trails. Its founder, Bee Hin, was willing to take up this novel technology in 2008 and work with it to enable his business model to be more competitive. Notably, the company has created two highly engaging mobile apps for the National Heritage Board and the SAFTI MI Learning Trail. The apps are used by more than 7,000 students, teachers and SAF personnel. Today, they have taken on a second technology from A*STAR to expand their product offerings into other consumer segments for self-directed discovery and learning.
12.I strongly encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups to similarly look to technology to tap new markets, expand your offerings and increase revenue.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PEOPLE
13.I understand that there is a gap between adopting technology and the final product. It is hard work to bring it to the market. Besides securing funding and spotting the right technology for your business, companies must have people with the right technical experience to translate the technologies and innovations into products and services that are ready for the market.
- One way to do this is by leveraging on A*STAR’s GET-UP Scheme that sees collaboration between A*STAR researchers and enterprises in technology development. While A*STAR provides the researchers, SPRING provides the funding to SMEs to hire these researchers for up to two years. Both agencies work closely to build up the in-house technology capabilities of the SMEs through facilitating technology transfer from the research institutes. We will continue to explore ways to grow the capabilities of the enterprises and find ways for the GET-UP researchers to mentor the non-research engineers. This will equip our enterprises with the necessary know-how in science and technology that would enable them to innovate and grow and hence, enhance their market presence.
15.With ACE, Exploit Technologies and SPRING working together to generate economic growth and create jobs for Singapore, I am confident that we can seed and nurture more innovative start-ups and help make Singapore a vibrant, creative and entrepreneurial nation.
16.I wish you all a fruitful afternoon and hope that you will take the opportunity to network and establish useful contacts in your technology commercialisation efforts.