About the Innovation and Startup Desk in Singapore

Intro about the Desk, its mission and activities

Innovation desk in general is an initiative by ICE aka Italian trade agency for assisting the highly innovative Italian startups in expanding its business in domestic and offshore markets.

The placement of the innovation desks is in accordance with the importance of the cities and its close vicinity to the foreign investors for attracting investments towards the Italian startups. Apart from attracting investments; the innovation desks are involved in other innovative activities towards attracting Italian investment in the host countries for most happening initiatives by the country’s respective governments.


More help is on the way for the construction sector, which has been struggling amid a slow property market and economic uncertainty.

A $150 million Public Sector Construction Productivity Fund will be set up to allow government agencies to procure "innovative and productive" building solutions to help develop capabilities in the sector.

"The fund will allow these solutions to enter and gain traction in the market," said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday, adding that these solutions may have higher costs as they "may be nascent and lack scale".

The Singapore Contractors Association (Scal) hailed the move.

"From the contractors' point of view, the market is quite suppressed... Many firms are more worried about survival than investing in new technology. This initiative, with the Government taking the lead, will help," Scal president Kenneth Loo told The Straits Times.

Consultancy PwC Singapore said tech trends such as the Internet of Things could be used to collect data - including identifying equipment needing repair - and then using it to improve construction processes.

"Companies are also using virtual reality or augmented reality technology to detect errors (and) drone-generated surveys to preview job-site conditions," noted Mr Tan Tay Lek, corporate tax partner at PwC Singapore.

Mr Heng said $2.4 billion will be set aside over the next four years to implement strategies crafted by the Committee on the Future Economy. This includes a $500 million top-up to the National Research Fund to support innovation, and a further $1 billion for the National Productivity Fund to drive industry transformation.

The funding is on top of the $4.5 billion put aside last year for the Industry Transformation Programme to help firms build up capabilities and grow through innovation.

Mr Heng also touched on the need for forward-looking regulations to facilitate innovation. "Our regulatory agencies must balance managing risk and creating the space to test innovations," he noted, citing examples of such efforts.

These include a recent move by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to simplify rules for venture capital funds that will help to enhance financing for start-ups.

Mr Heng said "regulatory sandboxes" - which involve setting boundaries within which some rules can be suspended - will encourage greater experimentation. 

The article was first published on The Straits Times on 21 February 2017.


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