Singapore Government Media Release
Media Division, Ministry of Information and The Arts,
140 Hill Street #02-02 MITA Building, Singapore 179369.
Tel: 837 9666
SPEECH BY DR TONY TAN KENG YAM, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR DEFENCE AT THE TECHMONTH DINNER HELD ON FRIDAY, 1ST SEP 2000 AT 7.30PM AT RITZ CARLTON
We are living in challenging and exciting times.
The world economy and the way businesses are run are being transformed by the triple driving forces of technological innovation, globalisation and liberalisation.
Under the onslaught of these forces, old paradigms are being examined and new paradigms are being thrown up almost by the day.
In a more competitive world economy, businesses have to concentrate their resources not just on value adding but increasingly on value-creating. These changes are unsettling not only for businesses but also for Government, Trade Unions, employers, workers and society in general.
As we struggle to understand the implications of these changes on the way we manage our economy and run our businesses, we should not lose sight of the opportunities which are thrown up in this period of rapid change. To take advantages of these opportunities, the Government launched in April last year our Technopreneurship 21 Initiative to stimulate a climate of innovation and creativity in our economy by creating the infrastructure and the environment for creativity and entrepreneurship to thrive.
Our Technopreneurship 21 Initiative revolves around four elements namely : education, financing, facilities and regulations.
This evening I would like to give an update on how our Technopreneurship 21 Initiative is progressing and what new initiatives are being considered.
In the educational field, our universities and polytechnics are much more conscious of the need to infuse a spirit and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship in their students and have organized courses, seminars and activities to give their students the necessary knowledge and skills to launch into entrepreneurial careers.
In addition to our own Institutes of Higher Learning, world class institutions like MIT, Wharton School, Chicago School of Business and INSEAD have set up local campuses or alliances which have attracted many talented people from the region and overseas to come and study in Singapore and enrich our talent base.
The Ministry of Education, through its "Thinking Schools, Learning Nation" programme is upgrading our schools' curriculum to make sure that our young people have the necessary preparation to work effectively in the new economic world where change and enterprise are distinguishing factors.
As regards financing, the US$1 billion Technopreneurship Investment Fund, announced last year, is almost fully committed and has succeeded not only in attracting international top tier Venture Capital companies to locate in Singapore but in making finance more easily available for start-ups in Singapore and in the region.
NSTB is now considering setting up a second Technopreneurship Investment Fund to help ensure a continuing supply of funds for Venture Capital investments thus sustaining and reinforcing the triangular relationship between start-ups, Venture Capitalists and investors.
The third element in Technopreneurship 21 is the development of a Science Hub that will provide an intellectually stimulating and creative environment for talent to congregate, and for a community of technopreneurial players to interact.
I am pleased to announce this evening that Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) has been appointed the lead agency to develop the Buona VISTA Science Hub.
JTC's challenge is to develop the Buona Vista Science Hub as the place for a thriving technopreneurial community to live, work, play and learn.
JTC will establish a dedicated group to focus on the development of Buona Vista Science Hub.
The Group will carry out planning, development, marketing and management of the Science Hub.
NSTB, who had been responsible for initiating this project, will be involved in the steering committee to ensure that the objectives of Technopreneurship 21 are achieved.
To create an attractive live-work-play-learn environment at the Science Hub, JTC will adopt a flexible planning approach to incorporate a vibrant mix of land uses.
The development of the Science Hub will incorporate a major spine of Business Park facilities to link the existing Singapore Science Park to a proposed gateway commercial hub at the Buona Vista MRT station.
The Business Park belt will weave through a mix of residential housing, green parks and recreational facilities, a civic corridor of educational institutes and pockets of commercial activities.
JTC envisages the Science Hub to be a happening place for the technopreneurial community, where knowledge workers, residents, students, artists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and creative people meet.
It will be a place of venture and innovation, a place of experimentation and a place of fun.
The Science Hub is expected to attract interactions from the larger community in the surrounding areas including NUS, Singapore Polytechnic, and the Science Park.
To ensure the success of the Science Hub, we need an efficient all-weather transportation system, to seamlessly link the various components in the Science Hub.
Given the scale of development and the intensity of activities envisaged at the Science Hub, NSTB and JTC have concluded that an LRT system linked to the MRT network is necessary to effectively integrate and connect all the major elements of Science Hub with the surrounding development including NUS, NUH and Science Parks.
JTC, in consultation with LTA and other relevant authorities, will conduct a detailed feasibility study to implement an LRT system within the Science Hub.
To ensure that we will have access to the latest technology in LRT systems, JTC will issue Request For Proposals for various LRT systems that could meet the demands of the Science Hub.
As the Science Hub spreads over 180 hectares of land, JTC will spread out the developments in 3 phases over the next 15 to 20 years.
The development phasing will generally follow the availability schedule of land within the Science Hub.
The actual timing and quantum of the state land to be released for development will be carefully staged in consultation with URA to ensure that it is in line with the government land sales programme.
Private developers will also be invited to participate actively in some of the developments particularly commercial and residential facilities.
To kick-off the Science Hub, JTC will immediately set up an incubator park at the former MINDS school, near the Buona Vista MRT station.
This incubator park will provide 60 prefabricated incubator units for lease to companies on short-term tenancy. Details will be announced by JTC.
Last year, the National Science and Technology Board in conjunction with various Ministries and Statutory Board put together various changes to build a conducive environment for Technopreneurship.
The Bankruptcy regime was reviewed to help those who had fallen, to get up again.
Long term social visit passes are now available to foreign technopreneurs who are interested to build their businesses in Singapore.
HDB and URA agreed to allow technopreneurs start up offices in their homes.
The tax treatment for stock options was reviewed and enhanced.
Further policy changes are being considered.
The Ministry of Communications & IT, for example, recently announced that the Government will distinguish content or application providers from those who are merely hosting content.
MCIT also initiated a review of licenses and regulations for Internet businesses to see if they are relevant in a New Economy environment where globalization and information free-flow are breaking down walls.
The Ministry of Law is also in the midst of reviewing the Trustee Act to provide trustees greater flexibility to act.
This would mean replacement of the legal list approach with the "prudent man" rule supplemented with optional investment guidelines.
Under the 'prudent man' rule, a trustee is able to invest trust monies in investments he deems fit, provided that he exercises due judgement and care as a trustee of the property of others.
The institution of clear rules and regulations has been instrumental in building Singapore's strong and vigorous economy.
We will continue to need rules and regulations.
But when the market is changing rapidly, rules and regulations run the risk of being outdated and left behind by the market.
NSTB has done well in coordinating and spearheading the changes in rules and regulations.
Going forward, we need to extend the effort to the entire public sector, so that all public officers are involved in the process of reviewing our rules and regulations to ensure they continue to be relevant.
As a general approach, the public sector will make rules and regulations less prescriptive.
We will also favour a "negative list" approach as against a "positive list" approach.
With a "positive-list" approach, anything that is not explicitly allowed is prohibited.
When changes are happening slowly, we have plenty of time to study and formulate positive lists.
But with the rapid changes in our economy, a "positive list" approach tends to stifle innovation and initiative.
A "negative list" approach provides more flexibility.
With a "negative list" approach, the regulatory body specifies the actions that should not be done.
Hence what is not explicitly banned is permissible.
To instill discipline, rules should preferably be written with sunset clauses ie they self-destruct unless renewed.
This forces the regulator to review a rule regularly to see if the rule is still needed.
Finally, stakeholders will be consulted so that their inputs and concerns can be considered in the enactment of rules and regulation.
This way, the rules and regulations will be more relevant, leading to smoother implementation and more effective enforcement.
To ensure that rules and regulations are reviewed in a timely and comprehensive fashion, I am pleased to announce that the Public Service has set up a pro-enterprise panel, led by Head Civil Service Lim Siong Guan, to give the process of rules review a bigger push.
The panel comprises prominent representatives from both the private and public sectors.
Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Trade and Industry
Mr Teo Ming Kian, Chairman, National Science and Technology
Mr Inderjit Singh, President, UTAC
Mr Yong Voon Fee, Chairman and CEO, Bex.com
Mr Wong Toon King, Chairman, ECNet (formerly known as AMO)
Mr Derrick Goh, President/CEO/Founder, Serial System Limited
The Panel will pro-actively gather meaningful feedback and recommendations from enterprises in Singapore and ensure that the Public Sector acts on the recommendations.
To facilitate feedback, the panel will set up a website to allow the business community to give their views and propose changes.
Although it is too early to conclude that we have succeeded in establishing Singapore as a hub of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, the progress achieved in the last 18 months is encouraging.
Starting up a technology business in Singapore today is no longer a remote, unthinkable possibility.
Last year, more than 500 technopreneurial companies were formed in Singapore.
In 1998, there were no more than a handful of incubators.
Today, there are more than 50 incubator companies, mostly private sector driven.
NSTB's first bi-monthly networking event was attended by about 300 people.
Today, NSTB's networking event is regularly attended by more than 600 people including technopreneurs, Venture Capitalists, lawyers and bankers.
Many more similar networking events are being undertaken by the private sector.
Our Technopreneurship 21 Initiative would not have been possible without the ground laid by the government in investing in Science & Technology over the past decade.
In 1991, NSTB embarked on the development of Science and Technology in Singapore, with the launch of the first National Technology Plan (NTP) in 1991.
The purpose of the National Technology Plan was to help sustain economic growth by anchoring high value-added activities in the economy.
Today, we are beginning to appreciate even more, that Science and Technology, because of their intrinsic role in knowledge creation, knowledge transmission and knowledge transfer, will continue to have a pervasive role in propelling our economy to greater growth.
The Science and Technology awards, that are being given out tonight, are therefore more relevant than ever.
People will continue to be a critical resource in the new economic phase we are moving into.
The scientists and researchers, who are being honoured tonight, have made contributions in defining not just our science & technology base, but how well our businesses will be able to compete in the global marketplace.
I congratulate them and the companies who have made substantial contributions towards the development of science and technology in Singapore.
They have a significant role to play in Singapore's efforts to develop R&D and technopreneurship.
On this note, it gives me great pleasure to launch TechMonth2000 program.
I wish all participants an exciting month of discovering science and technology.