Paul Bennet, Chief creative officer, IDEO
Paul Bennett grew up in Singapore and came back after a stint as art director of Bloomingdale’s in the US and New York based branding agency nickandpaul (which he co-founded), to launch design firm IDEO’s Asia outposts (the others are in Tokyo, Shanghai and Mumbai).
In Singapore, IDEO works with clients such as Changi Hospital where it introduced L-shaped slots in desks for canes.
The idea is for small changes to make a big difference. “Singapore is an incredibly optimistic place. It was founded on the belief that change is possible. Singapore has continued to pioneer and change its perspective,” Bennett says.
Next up Bennett is rolling out OpenIDEO – a forum where anyone can pitch in with ideas for the social good. “There is a real interest in this kind of participatory innovation and contribution in Singapore,” Bennett says.
Singapore presents itself as a choice location for global automotive companies to carry out headquarters activities, spares distribution, production of high-value products and R&D.
Almost all the major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1 automotive suppliers use Singapore to oversee their regional operations. Many OEMs also use Singapore as a regional logistics base to manage their aftermarket spares distribution to the region. Regional procurement is also an increasingly important activity, given companies’ need for an efficient and well-connected base to oversee this function. Singapore's excellent physical and trade connectivity, availability of supply chain professionals and well-established financial infrastructure make the country an attractive location for procurement and supply chain management activities.
Our strong industrial base in electronics, infocommunications and mechanical engineering has supported the growth of related automotive R&D in Singapore. More than 800 are involved in research on engine control modules, infotainment, telematics and other fields. For example, Delphi and Continental have a substantial R&D presence here. Bosch, the world’s leading automotive supplier, has also recently set up its Corporate R&D Asia Pacific HQ.
LIFESTYLE PRODUCTS & SERVICES
As one of the world’s best places to live in, Singapore has its fingers on the pulse of global lifestyle demands. Our cosmopolitan population is a trendsetter and barometer for global lifestyle needs. Coupled with having the best business environment in the world, Singapore is a natural launch pad and international hub for lifestyle businesses looking for global success.
Centrally located in a region of growing affluence, Singapore is a unique gateway to consumers who are increasingly seeking diverse and sophisticated lifestyle products and services. Art, collectibles, performing arts and sports companies are examples of lifestyle businesses that are growing in Singapore.
Art and collectibles businesses ranging from auction houses, conservators, art logistics providers, art investment firms and art printers have set up base in Singapore to serve the Asia Pacific market. From 2004 to 2008, the operating receipts of these businesses registered a high growth rate of 30%.
The Singapore Freeport, the world’s largest high-security storage facility for art and high value collectible items started operations in May 2010; with leading arts business Christie’s establishing its Fine Art Storage Services within the Freeport facility to provide storage services to its global clientele. Another top auction house, Spink, has chosen Singapore as its base to tap into Asia's growing market for coins, stamps, medals and banknotes collectibles.
Art businesses setting up in Singapore will also benefit from the other exciting developments in the Singapore arts scene. The inaugural Art Stage Singapore in January 2011, will be the latest art fair by the former Director of Art Basel, Lorenzo Rudolf, that will position Singapore as the arts hub for the Asia-Pacific. The fair would feature top galleries from the most dynamic art markets of Asia and prestigious international galleries from Europe and the United States. Via the works of brilliant emerging and established artists, Singapore will be the venue for an enriching dialogue between East and West.
Singapore will also unveil a new National Art Gallery in 2015 which will focus on Southeast Asian art. The new gallery is expected to position Singapore as a centre for the promotion, research, study and display of Southeast Asian art. The School of the Arts (SOTA), has been set up as Singapore’s first national pre-tertiary specialised arts school to offer a 6-year unique integrated arts and academic curriculum for youths aged 13-18 years old. The school will lead the charge in identifying and grooming future generations of artists and creative professionals in all fields.
The performing arts scene in Singapore is vibrant and diverse with 7,500 performances a year, and a continual stream of major events such as the Singapore Arts Festival, Mosaic Festival Sun Festival, LIVE! Singapore and ConversAsians attract the world’s best artists and arts groups. Singapore has also played host to international visiting productions. We were the first and only Asian stop for the world tour of The Tempest, host to world premieres of international productions such as Dunas, a creation of flamenco and contemporary dance between two of the world’s most celebrated dancemakers, María Pagés and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, at the Esplanade’s da:ns festival in 2009. In addition, we are co-producing Asian content that have become international successes in the examples of i La Galigo, and The Village.
Supporting this vibrant scene is a world-class arts infrastructure. Performing arts venues in Singapore are now numbered at 56 with a seating capacity of over 44,000. The Esplanade, along with new performance venues at the two Integrated Resorts, will be able to host large-scale musicals and long-running shows. Singapore is also garnering international attention as a platform for the development of arts and culture in Asia. A good and credible base of local and foreign arts institutions like Ngee Ann Polytechnic Diploma in Arts Management, School of the Arts and LASALLE College of the Arts help build a strong pool of performing arts talents and practitioners.
Attracted by these opportunities, international companies such as IMG Artists and Based Entertainment, have chosen to use Singapore as a base for their regional business activities and to expand their foothold in Asia. There is also a strong base of companies specialising in supporting services such as Creative Technology UK, Arup Acoustics, Unusual Entertainment and Arina Hogan Builders.
The Asia Pacific sports industry is expected to grow 6.5 percent per year to an estimated S$26.7 billion in 2011. In Singapore, the sports industry is projected to contribute S$2 billion to GDP by 2015, along with the goal of employing 20,000 people in sports related jobs. In 2009, Singapore held over 700 local and international sporting events across the city and was named No.2 Ultimate Sports City at the biennial Sport Accord Convention in April 2010.
Singapore welcomes sports businesses to leverage Singapore’s pro-business environment to tap into the business opportunities in the region. Converse, a sports and lifestyle footwear & apparel company affiliated to Nike Inc, for example, has chosen Singapore to consolidate its global trading operations and drive its business expansion into the region. Most notably, Singapore will house global planning and supply chain management functions for Converse globally.
The growing number of events and infrastructure developments in Asia have also attracted sports management companies to Singapore. World Sport Group is Asia’s leading sports management company with its global HQ in Singapore managing key sports rights such as Indian Premier League (cricket). The company is also the exclusive marketing partner of Asian Football Confederation. MP & Silva is a leading international sports agency managing the event and media rights for one of the world’s most lucrative professional football leagues - the Italian Serie A. The company also drives the commercialisation and management of event and media rights for Middle East and Asia from its base in Singapore.
The increasing demand for sports-related training services has also attracted the Manchester United Soccer School (MUSS) to establish its South-East Asian Hub in Singapore. Youths from as far as South Korea and Japan participate in the football clinics and tournaments organised by MUSS SEA.
These businesses will add to the base of sports infrastructure and activities that are being developed in Singapore. A state-of-the-art Sports Hub which is on the cards, will also place Singapore on the international map for sports. The 35ha Singapore Sports Hub will be the base for elite athletes and sporting events and will serve as the centrepiece of Singapore’s development as a regional hub for sports business and events. Singapore has and continues to host a number of international marquee sporting events such as the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 and the annual F1 night race. It will also host the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in 2015.
Ian Swanson, Creative Director, Nice Ltd
Ian Swanson, an industrial design graduate from the Savannah College of Art & Design in the US, joined creative agency NiCE Ltd at its New York office. Specialising in the fragrance and luxury goods market, Swanson was a perfect match for NiCE, which works extensively with beauty brands, including SK II and Lab Series, as well as global giants such as Procter & Gamble. Together with the agency’s founder Davide Nicosia, Swanson set up NiCE’s Singapore office – the company’s first Asia base – in 2008.
Today, NiCE has 22 staff from 11 countries in Singapore and offices in Bangkok and Tokyo. “With such a diverse team of multidisciplinary creatives we can ensure every client and every project has not only a global perspective but also those essential local insights,” Swanson explains. Helping global clients better understand Asian luxury consumer demand lies at the heart of everything NiCE does in Singapore. “The trust that Singapore has built with companies is a critical element for Singapore to become a true leader in innovation. Singaporeans have an amazing vision for what they, as a nation, want to become – a leader in design and innovation globally,” Swanson says. One of his favourite projects in Singapore to date is tweaking the packaging for Tiger Balm and making the ubiquitous Singaporean-made pain relief salve more accessible to
Three-year-old Singaporean design firm Studio Juju was set up by two industrial designers: Timo Wong and Priscilla Lui. In its first year, the studio gained international recognition when it exhibited at the Salone furniture fair in Milan. Last year it bagged the Design Miami and W Hotels award Designers of the Future – Studio Juju products now feature throughout W properties around the world – and it has gone on to produce work commissioned by Italian upholstery firm Living Divani. The newest animal series features frogs crafted out of a single sheet of metal. Co-founder Timo Wong says that being in Singapore has allowed his firm to indulge in experimental works. “The design scene here is quite young so we don’t bear any cultural baggage from the past,” he says.
Sofshell Protective Gear
Sofshell is a start-up that’s revolutionising body armour through clever engineering. The Sofshell team has developed an innovative padding with the help of A*Star, Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, which helped them create a material that dissipates impact force in addition to absorbing it, meaning it can withstand heavy blows unlike anything else on the market. “As a start-up company we are very fortunate,” says Dr Elgin Yap, CEO of Sofshell. “A*Star has a team of people that have the experience of commercialising technology who assisted us until we officially spun off early this year.” One of the most promising applications is in ballistic vests: when combined with bulletproof materials, Sofshell can significantly minimise a bullet’s impact.
Live Well Collaborative
Research and Development
The talk is always about capturing the imagination of young consumers but the American not-for-profit outfit Live Well Collaborative (LWC) thinks we’re missing out on the chunk of 50+ age population that has real purchasing power. Working with partners such as Procter & Gamble to develop grooming products that appeal to a more mature generation, the LWC is winning new adherents. Since setting up a Singapore branch it has become a buzzing research hub. It brings together students and lecturers to map the consumption behaviours and habits of Asian consumers through extensive interviews. “Many multinational companies are relocating their R&D teams to Singapore and that means more of them will be approaching LWC Singapore to work on projects”, says Goh Siak Koon, LWC’s Singapore director. Boeing is now taking an interest in working with the LWC.
Gillman Barracks is a brand new hub for the contemporary arts, one that’s set to position Singapore as an important destination on the arts map. The former military site’s latest incarnation houses a number of international galleries in beautifully restored colonial-era buildings across a hilly 6.4-hectare site. It will also eventually feature an arts research centre as well as a residency programme. “Gillman Barracks was conceived to develop the ecosystem within Asia, not just in Singapore,” says Dr Eugene Tan, programme director in the Lifestyle Programme Office at the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). “It complements what we have in Asia in terms of art centres and art markets, setting up centres for research as well as production here in Singapore.”
Thirteen galleries showcasing art from around Asia as well as Europe and the Americas opened their doors in September, with a further two to arrive next year. Highlights include the first Singapore space for Berlin’s Michael Janssen Gallery and Japan’s Tomio Koyama Gallery. There are other big names here too, from Sebastião Salgado to Pablo Picasso. Gillman Barracks is expected to house a total of 19 galleries. “I think Singapore has a potential to become an important art centre internationally,” says Dr Tan. “What I think Gillman and Singapore can be in the future is really a platform for these South East Asian artists to get onto the international stage.”
In association with Monocle, EDB brings to you a selection of people, places and products that make Singapore a nation that is punching far above its weight despite its relatively compact size and population (content first published in Monocle).
Singapore's vision of becoming a natural resource hub is fast becoming a reality. Its strategic position in resource-rich Asia makes Singapore a choice location for world-class natural resource companies.
The EDB’s Natural Resources Strategy encompasses aquaculture, agriculture, metals and minerals; Singapore aims to be a nerve centre that plays a part in fulfilling global demand for these resources, and creates technologies to ensure future sustainability. Presently, the growing number of international companies has generated a buzz of activity. Many of the agri-commodity players in Singapore today have also moved beyond trading functions to establish significant activities along the business value chain, including marketing, trade finance, shipping, and even shared services operations here.
Increasingly, we are seeing global consumption and production patterns shift from the West to Asia Pacific. Singapore is also located in the centre of a region which is home to some of the top producers of several commodities. Hence companies in the commodities or natural resources business are finding it attractive to choose Singapore as the epicentre of their operations. As a global business city, Singapore’s well-established trading infrastructure and comprehensive network of international agreements, backed by our financial, logistics and shipping industries, our pro-business environment, political and economic stability, efficient legal system and a highly-qualified workforce, are key pull factors for companies choosing Singapore as the nerve centre for their operations in the region.
Robotics is at an inflection point, with new technology developments enabling a new breed of advanced robotics that are affordable, versatile, collaborative and intelligent enough to work alongside human beings.
The global robotics industry is projected to grow from US$20 billion today to US$80 billion by 20251, on the back of deployment of such advanced robotics in industrial applications, and more importantly, the potential for deployment in services sectors. Singapore recognizes robotics as a growth industry, and we aim to build an ecosystem that is globally competitive and differentiated.
Singapore also intends to leverage advanced robotics (and more broadly autonomous systems) as an enabler to meet some of our own service delivery needs (e.g. in healthcare). Through strategic deployment, advanced robotics can potentially help free up resources, enabling our workforce to take on higher value, more productive jobs.
NATIONAL ROBOTICS PROGRAMME (NRP)
EDB, A*STAR and NRF have launched a S$450 million National Robotics Programme (NRP) to drive and coordinate robotics technology research, solutions development and adoption across the public and private sectors:
Developing differentiating enabling technology research capabilities
Under the NRP, the government supports public and private sector research performers to undertake research and development of upstream robotics technologies that can differentiate Singapore over the longer term.
Accelerating lead demand-driven innovative robotic solutions development
Singapore is playing a lead demand role in driving the development of innovative solutions in select sectors. We are initially focusing on accelerating the development of innovative solutions for the manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, transport, environmental services and security industries.
Driving mass adoption in economic sectors
Singapore is encouraging and supporting broad-based adoption of market-ready robotics solutions across our manufacturing and services sectors, among large, medium and small medium businesses alike. The economic agencies are working with both the supply (robotic equipment providers, system integrators and others involved in the delivery of these robotic solutions) and demand (businesses that are looking to adopt robotic solutions to enhance their operations) stakeholders to enable this.
ADVANCED MANUFACTURING AND ENGINEERING
As part of Singapore’s continued development of the advanced manufacturing and engineering pillar of our economy, we are pursuing the manufacturing of complex and sophisticated robotics systems.
EDB is partnering stakeholders to build a robotics-ready workforce across the value chain from research to operations. For example, employers can send their employees to robotics-related training courses such as the Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) Graduate Diploma in Mechatronics offered by the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and the WSQ Diploma in Mechatronics and Robotics offered by Singapore Polytechnic. The Workforce Development Agency (WDA) offers support for employees to enroll in robotics-related courses.
1 Source: International Federation of Robotics Statistical Analysis and EU Roadmap 2013.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Keeping citizens safe and secure is a priority for all nations. From physical security to cyber crime to civil defence, challenges evolve rapidly and require increasingly innovative solutions. Government spending on homeland security is already at US$200 billion per year (Visiongain The Homeland Security Market 2011-2021). With rapid urbanisation in Asia, the safety & security market in Asia is experiencing the fastest growth and is expected to grow at 8% compound annual growth rate to 2015 (Frost & Sullivan market growth opportunities in Asia Pacific Homeland Security 2011).
Today Singapore is one of the world's safest cities, trusted for its integrity, quality, reliability, rule of law, and enforcement of intellectual property rights. For example, Singapore's police service is ranked number 3 in the world and top in Asia in terms of reliability (WEF's Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013). This attribute of Trust is one which we are strongly committed to protecting. To continue to make Singapore a safe place, we continuously innovate to keep ahead of rapidly changing challenges.
To this end, EDB has entered into a strategic alliance with the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to form the Safety and Security Industry Programme Office (SSIPO) to promote the industry in Singapore. MHA, as a lead demand driver, will identify challenges to homeland security and urbanization, and work with the safety and security industry to co-develop solutions. Through our partnership with MHA, EDB will create platforms whereby companies can work with the public sector through Public-Private partnerships to testbed companies' innovative solutions in a live operational environment in Singapore. Companies will have access to a diverse Asian environment to develop solutions, customise and calibrate for unique Asian needs. At the same time, Singapore can also benefit from the innovations in safety & security technologies to make our home safer to live and conduct business.
There are now more than 200 companies in the safety and security industry in Singapore, supplying solutions ranging from biometrics, maritime and aviation security solutions to fire safety. For example, Thales and Bosch have established R&D presence here. Others such as NICE Systems have made Singapore their Asian headquarters to access the fast growing Asian market. In addition, established companies in Singapore such as ST Engineering, NCS and Certis Cisco are expanding and making their presence felt both locally and overseas. Aside from the synergies of being in a cluster, companies here can also leverage on Singapore's strong established industrial base in electronics, infocommunications and engineering.
Singapore is emerging as a thought leader for safety and security in the Asia Pacific region. INTERPOL has chosen Singapore for a Global Complex for innovation which will serve to enhance its global operations. This facility will be a cutting edge research and development entity for the identification of crimes and criminals, innovative training and operational support and partnerships. The Global Complex will complement INTERPOL's General Secretariat in Lyon, France, and will be operational in 2014.
SSIPO welcomes more safety and security companies to locate their operations in Singapore. Additionally, it will help grow local safety and security companies, encourage more companies and research institutes to develop innovative solutions for both local and global needs and export Singapore's capabilities in safety and security to Asia and the rest of the world.
The vision of Singapore: Real-Time is the creation of an interacting city by making available real-time and commercial data. The availability of real-time data unlocks new opportunities for businesses to create innovative business solutions which can improve efficiencies or create new value. Singapore:Real-Time can also enable new smart city solutions which will allow Singapore to improve urban efficiencies and liveability.
EDB is looking to help companies partner with other private sector data providers or end-users to develop new solutions. The solutions developed will accelerate the creation of new business models, platforms and standards for utilization of real-time data. This vision is for solutions developed in Singapore to be exportable and deployable in other urban cities.
The Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) was established by the Singapore government in February 2013 with the mandate to serve as the designated office to develop Singapore’s space industry.
Chaired by EDB’s Chairman, Dr Beh Swan Gin, OSTIn’s steering committee is made up of the following ministries and agencies:
- Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
- Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB)
- Ministry of Communication and Information (MCI)
- Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), Ministry of Education (MOE)
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
- Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)
- Ministry of Transport (MOT)
- National Research Foundation (NRF)
OSTIn was established with the following mandate:
- Plan and execute economic strategies to grow Singapore’s space industry in a sustainable manner. This includes facilitating Singapore’s research and development efforts in space related areas.
- Forge collaborations within Singapore, as well as between Singapore and the international community on space initiatives. This includes Singapore collaborating with space agencies as well as space companies.
- Champion the growth of Singapore’s pool of human capital for the space industry.
Satellite technology development
In 2011, Singapore became the first Southeast Asian country to successfully deploy its indigenous satellite, which was designed and developed locally by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). This capability has since been commercialised under ST Electronics (Satellite Systems) to design, develop and produce advanced remote sensing satellites.
Beyond satellite development, Singapore also has a strong base of communications equipment manufacturers such as iDirect, Addvalue Technologies and Amplus Communication supplying to leading satellite-based services providers. Some of these companies are looking to develop satellite components and are engaging partners in this area.
Satellite remote sensing applications
Today, major global players such as DigitalGlobe, GeoEye and Spot Image have established a presence in Singapore to distribute images and manage their regional businesses.
In addition, the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) is involved in conducting research in areas like Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and multi and hyper-spectral data analysis. Its expertise is applied in areas such as urban planning, maritime and coastal observation, climate-change studies, disaster monitoring and agriculture.
Satellite communication services
Singapore is also home to a number of satellite operators and communication service providers who manage their regional businesses from Singapore. Major players include Inmarsat, Thuraya, Intelsat, SES and SingTel. Companies in this segment leverage on Singapore’s strengths in the infocomm, maritime and aerospace industry, and geographical location on major shipping and airline routes to support their businesses and innovation initiatives.
Beyond satellites technology and services
Space continues to present many exciting and new opportunities. Advancements in technologies have made suborbital flight increasingly viable and could potentially revolutionise the future of aviation and space travel.
Europe’s largest space company, EADS Astrium, has partnered Singapore-based companies and agencies to work towards the realisation of its suborbital spaceplane program.
As the nature of the space industry continues to evolve and develop, OSTIn is keen to work with space agencies and companies from around the world who have innovative opportunities to bring the space industry to greater heights.
Estimated to be worth about US$290 billion in 2011, the global space industry presents many exciting opportunities and demonstrates potential for growth. Countries and companies looking to realise its space ambitions are constantly on the lookout for locations with conducive business and research environments.
With this in mind, OSTIn is keen to forge collaboration amongst local and international companies, and space agencies to jointly pursue its space endeavours.
Developing niche and innovative solutions in a cost efficient manner through complementary R&D partnerships
Emerging space countries and companies looking to develop space technologies and build relevant expertise may find it a challenge to overcome technology barriers. Such players are always on the lookout for partners to jump-start their research.
In addition, established space agencies and companies looking to stay ahead of the game are also on the constant look-out for complementary expertise to develop niche and innovative solutions in a cost efficient manner.
In this context, space agencies and companies looking to develop space technologies, particularly in the area of satellites, can tap on Singapore’s existing strengths in research and development.
Space-based equipment manufacturers looking to develop satellite components, sensor systems and materials could work with Singapore’s public research institutes. For example Singapore’s research institutes such as the Data Storage Institute (DSI) and Institute of Microelectronics (IME), have good expertise in memory systems, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and power amplifiers. Companies can work with DSI and IME to develop MEMS based non-volatile memory systems or high-frequency power amplifiers for space.
Other than commercial satellite integrators such as ST Electronics (Satellite Systems), space agencies and companies looking to develop small satellites can also work with Singapore’s universities.
Today, both the Nanyang Technology University and National University of Singapore run micro and nano-satellites development programmes. Research areas include formation flying, altitude and propulsion sub-systems and selective critical redundancies development.
As more intelligent satellite-based services continue to be developed, companies recognise the importance of managing, processing and analysing huge amounts of data. Space agencies and companies looking to manage and interpret their data could work with key research institutes in Singapore.
For example, Singapore’s Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) has been conducting SAR, and multi and hyper-spectral data analysis. Other research institutes with expertise in application developments in signal processing and data management and analytics include the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) as well as the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC).
Building commercial expertise to turn Ideas into reality
The development of space technologies without attempts to alleviate cost and exploit commercial potential may hinder the long-term sustainability of space agencies and companies. Space agencies and companies looking to build their space commercial initiatives can do so from Singapore.
Space agencies and companies looking to gain access to the global and Asian’s space markets, capabilities and infrastructure can leverage Singapore’s excellent connectivity and stable geopolitical environment. This opens up a myriad of opportunities to develop satellites and satellite applications for the growing space market.
In order to successfully develop, test bed and commercialise satellite solutions, companies need an ecosystem of commercial, research and government entities that are open to collaborate. Companies can tap on Singapore’s growing ecosystem to enable the development, test bedding and commercialisation of satellite solutions. This could be in the use of remote sensing for disaster management, mineral exploration and precision farming or use of satellite-based communication to enable maritime and aerospace communication.
With space projects being potentially capital intensive, financial support is also critical to help space agencies and companies see through its space initiative. In this regard, space agencies and companies looking to better its success and financial support can leverage Singapore’s position as a key financial hub in Asia and tax efficient environment to finance their projects.
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