Embracing old, new and disruptive forces

5 Feb 2018
Organised by The EDB Society and SMU, the inaugural six-part Enterprise & Entrepreneur Series, was launched on 31 January 2018 by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance

Most businesses are increasingly compelled to reinvent and transform themselves in today’s digital world and disruptive landscape. In Singapore, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship are widely regarded as key elements for business success.

Against this backdrop, the Singapore Management University (SMU) and The EDB Society launched a six-part series called Enterprise & Entrepreneur Series [企业与企业家系列] on 31 January 2018. Supported by the Economic Development Board, the Series was themed Transforming Industries • Creating Value [工业转型、创造价值] and took place at SMU’s Mochtar Riady Auditorium.

The Series aimed firstly to celebrate inspiring entrepreneurs and industry leaders, and draw insights on how they respond to old, new and disruptive forces. A second objective of the Series was to explore megatrends and growth themes, and how Singapore could exploit such new opportunities. Thirdly, the Series served to build a platform for sharing, learning and networking among business trailblazers and founders of companies with aspiring young entrepreneurs. 

Mr Lee Suan Hiang President of The EDB Society, who started the forum with welcome remarks, said: “The Enterprise & Entrepreneur Series is The EDB Society's response to the Future Economy Report. We are proud to launch it in partnership with SMU and with the support of EDB.

Many Singapore entrepreneurs are responding to the disruptive forces that are changing the corporate landscape by transforming existing operations and setting up new innovative ventures. This initiative through its 6 forums, celebrates our inspiring entrepreneurs and explores how they are exploiting the opportunities arising from the megatrends and growth potentials in digitalisation, advanced manufacturing, fintech, energy and urban solutions, ageing, food and agritech. It is a platform to create value for both young and old."

Graced by Guest-of-Honour, Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance, the launch forum received an overwhelming response. Close to 300 guests comprising business leaders and entrepreneurs, senior government officials, EDB alumni, academia as well as SMU students attended the evening event. At the forum, Mr Heng met some young student entrepreneurs from SMU, including School of Economics student Nicholas Han who co-founded Schaffen Watches (an online retailer for personal timepieces), and business school undergraduate Kevin Toh, CEO of HatcheMe (Asia’s first smart job portal that uses artificial intelligence to match candidates to career opportunities).

Delivering his keynote address to a packed auditorium, Mr Heng spoke about the industry transformation journey and illustrated how the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) work, and how they benefited local companies. On the next phase of the ITMs, he highlighted the need to work on two areas. First, there is a need to have depth in how we internationalise, innovate, as well as embark on training. Second, we need to take a cluster approach to capitalise on opportunities and realise the synergy within each cluster of industries. 

Mr Heng’s keynote address was followed by a Q&A session moderated by SMU President, Professor Arnoud De Meyer. Prof De Meyer continued to moderate a subsequent panel discussion, which delved into how technology, innovation and entrepreneurship could be tapped to shape success as Singapore shifts from a value-adding to a value-creating economy. Panellists comprised Dr Beh Swan Gin, Chairman of EDB; Mr Ho Kwon Ping, Chairman of SMU & Executive Chairman Banyan Tree; Mr Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, Deputy CEO of Temasek International and Mr Forrest Li, Founder and Chairman of internet firm Sea Limited.

Tackling issues from the importance of talent, to the role of the government and businesses in developing future growth areas, the panellists exchanged their perspectives in a lively and refreshingly candid dialogue.  Mr Ho Kwon Ping, chairman of SMU and Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree, cautioned against “romanticising” the notion of risk-taking among fresh graduates with start-ups.

Mr Ho expressed his view that “We should develop a culture where we encourage people to start out working with multinationals… that level of entrepreneurship is something we should consciously nurture also, and not just romanticise the start-ups because the rate of failures among start-ups is also inordinately high.”

Having said that, the panellists unanimously agreed that there is much to look forward to.  Southeast Asia remains a positive environment for enterprises to operate in, given the shifts in economic points of gravity to Asia in the past decade. With Southeast Asia’s internet economy well on track to achieve US$200 billion in 2025[1], there is tremendous untapped potential for business growth and Singapore is well placed to contribute the talent and knowledge to leverage on such opportunities.

As a city-state which embraces diversity and which is equipped with an international outlook and educated workforce, Singapore remains a good destination of choice for entrepreneurs to establish their companies and to navigate the waves of digitalisation and disruption. In concluding the discussion, Prof De Meyer urged, “With Industry 4.0, almost all jobs in future will be impacted by digitalisation. Let’s be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that the future holds.”

Stay tuned for the next instalment of the Enterprise & Entrepreneur Series, which will take place on 6 March 2018 at SMU. The discussion will be on the themes of fintech, logistics and cyber security.  

[Featured photo: Forum panelists at the launch of the Enterprise & Entrepreneur Series were (from left to right) Mr Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, Deputy CEO of Temasek International; Mr Ho Kwon Ping, Chairman of SMU & Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree;  Mr Forrest Li, Founder and Chairman of Sea Limited; Dr Beh Swan Gin, Chairman of EDB; and discussion moderator, SMU President Arnoud De Meyer.]


Last updated on 29 Mar 2018.

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