New collaborative 'start-up' approach to drive Singapore’s growth

DPM Heng Swee Keat (left) and Minister Desmond Lee with Emerging Stronger Taskforce members on Nov 19. - ST

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): A new "start-up" approach adopted by public agencies and the private sector working together on initiatives to drive economic growth may soon become the norm, with the Government keen on making this new agile way of collaboration more widespread.

Members of the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST), convened in May to help chart a vision for the country and its industries in a post-Covid-19 world, said on Thursday (Nov 19) that this approach has seen the public and private sectors working alongside each other as partners - rather than as regulators and the regulated.

They have also come up with prototypes even as the strategy is being worked out, instead of only moving when a direction has been set.

Said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who chairs the Future Economy Council which the task force comes under: "The emphasis is on taking quick action to prototype solutions and to concurrently explore ways to scale viable solutions across our economy and beyond.

"In keeping with the spirit of Singapore Together, these efforts are led by industry leaders, working in close partnerships," he added, referring to the movement he and his fourth-generation colleagues launched last year to give citizens a bigger say in making and executing policies.

The approach taken by the Singapore Together Alliances for Action -- industry-led coalitions formed under the task force -- has born fruit in the ideas and models that have come up in the past four months.

The alliance for robotics solutions, for instance, will launch early versions of autonomous shuttles in two "minimum viable product" deployments at the end of the year, said PSA International group chief executive officer Tan Chong Meng, who co-chairs the task force, at a press conference after hosting Heng and task force members on a visit to PSA.

Meanwhile, the alliance for safe and innovative visitor experiences has also developed a prototype for holding large scale trade shows and exhibitions safely, through the use of Covid-19 testing and tracing.

This was first tested at the Singapore International Energy Week last month, and will continue to be refined at upcoming events like TravelRevive next week.

The other five alliances are looking at supply chain digitisation, sustainability, digitalising the built environment, smart commerce and education technology.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, a co-chair of the task force which was set up in May, said on Thursday (Nov 19): "This new and agile approach to public-private collaboration has allowed us to align our goals, experiment and change course quickly, and act together."

"The EST believes that in a more competitive world, this collaborative Singapore Together spirit of our government, businesses, and workers will be Singapore's hallmark and competitive advantage. We are keen to institutionalise this approach as a lasting legacy of the EST."

Tan described this approach as "crossing the stream while feeling the stones", rather than feeling all the stones first and mapping out the way before crossing the stream.

In all, the seven alliances have collectively engaged more than 330 businesses, trade associations and chambers and government agencies, among others.

Lee also announced that a new alliance on MedTech or medical technology, which will explore opportunities around in-vitro diagnostics for disease preparedness, containment and control, is in the process of being formed.

In addition, an alliance on forming win-win partnerships with South-east Asian partners is being considered.

He said the alliances are meant to help Singapore seize opportunities emerging from six key shifts in the global economy that have been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

These are identified by the task force as: a changing global order; a re-balance between "efficiency" and "resilience" in supply chains and production; accelerating digital transformation and innovation; changes in consumer preferences; an increased focus on sustainability, both environmental and social; and accelerating industry consolidation and churn.

In tackling these shifts, the task force is guided by two themes that Lee said "must underpin" Singapore's future economy: a Singapore that is connected to the rest of the world, and one that is sustainable for the environment and inclusive for its people.

Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance, added: "We must continue to deepen our adaptive capacity as we respond to the major shifts in the global economy, many of which have been accelerated by Covid-19.

"We must strive to emerge stronger from this crisis and develop an even more connected and resilient economy, so that we can create good jobs and opportunities for our people." - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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