IN 2019, the Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards will turn 25.
Like a young adult who has just completed school and gained some work experience, 25 stands out as an important year where key milestones are achieved, and a turning point where one decides on their future direction.
In the same vein, the E50 Awards has gone through a similar journey, with several achievements and milestones under its belt.
Over the last 24 years, the awards has evolved to be the definitive list of the 50 most enterprising, privately-held local companies in Singapore.
This year, the Enterprise Transformation Award was introduced for the first time to recognise the company that has transformed itself to be innovative and future-ready.
We also launched the Internationalisation Award in 2016 to recognise a company's capability to seize overseas opportunities.
In addition to strong vision, leadership and corporate governance, the awards continues to reflect our emphasis on a company's ability to transform its business model and internationalise to compete on the global stage.
In the last few years, we have also seen a growing diversity and calibre of nominees stepping forward to join the awards.
They range from companies in manufacturing, construction and logistics to information technology, food and beverage and business services.
This year, 70 per cent of the nominees are first-time participants of the awards, a 24 per cent jump from the previous year. Thirty four enterprises also entered the fray as first-time winners at Thursday's gala awards.
These statistics show that local entrepreneurship is growing at a rapid pace, and that the awards will continue to attract a significant number of enterprises who have benefitted from the brand recognition and opportunities offered through the E50 platform.
The E50 Awards is all about recognising businesses with high growth potential, sustainable business models and strong entrepreneurial management teams to spur other enterprises on a similar path of success.
On another dimension, it is also about promoting the growth story of these successful enterprises to pave the way for their overseas expansion, access to greater financing and backing from investors.
THE POWER OF E50: INCREASED BRAND RECOGNITION, FINANCING AND INVESTOR INTEREST
Over the years, the E50 Awards has provided much endorsement and validation and instilled greater recognition and confidence for winners.
Proactive and valuable strategic input from the judging committee has also helped these companies to raise their brand profile and refine their business strategies to emerge as pre-eminent market players in their respective industries.
For Linnhoff, a leading manufacturer of asphalt mixing plants, the E50 Awards has been instrumental in helping the company to enter overseas markets with speed and expand successfully to scale their business.
"The E50 Awards came with a series of meeting criteria set by the organisers which culminated with thought-provoking questions during the rigorous evaluation from a distinguished judging panel. Naturally, this process has helped Linnhoff to think through our strategies and business plan on a global stage in our competitive environment. As we reach out to the overseas markets, the awards has given us enhanced brand recognition with our various international customers and partners," says Lee Yen Meng, CEO of Linnhoff.
Greater brand prominence has also helped award recipients to attract potential clients, business partners and employees, and strengthen their competitive advantage.
Jeverss Choo, executive director of Mao Sheng Quanji Construction, shares that the E50 Awards has given Mao Sheng a better corporate profile and public perception of the work it does, which has helped to attract a wider client and employee base.
"Throughout the judging process, the company also received constructive advice that helped sharpen our business strategies and opened up new opportunities which we were previously unaware of. We are extremely thankful that the awards has strengthened our competitive edge and employer branding," adds Mr Choo.
Wong Shih Jon, executive director of V3 Smart Technologies, says: "It is an honour to be one of the E50 2018 winners. E50 is an endorsement of our company's quality and innovation in the technology industry. It gives us an edge in a very competitive landscape and adds weight to our brand equity. The company will leverage on the positives of the E50 award and strive to better itself to fulfil our core vision and mission."
As a result of increased brand recognition, the E50 winners have also received stronger financing support from banks, a reflection of the strength of the E50 brand and the confidence behind the rigour of our judging criteria and process.
The awards solves a large part of the due diligence process for loan and credit facilities as good corporate governance is a key criteria for companies to enter the E50 list.
As a bridge connecting the most valuable investors with these E50 entrepreneurs, the awards platform has also allowed more companies to raise growth capital from private equity funds to attracting more long-term strategic investors who are able to add synergy and value to their business plans.
Others like TS Group have found the awards to be a great opportunity to open more doors for business.
Shamkumar, CEO and founder of TS Group, says: "As an award recipient last year, the E50 Awards has enabled us to connect to a wider network of other E50 companies. This has allowed us to strengthen our efforts towards excelling in underserved markets."
The past 24 years have made us firmly believe that the awards do promote high-value investments within the E50 ecosystem. These investments have benefitted the enterprises and contributed to the sustainable development and innovation of their industries and our country.
Looking back upon the launch of the E50 Awards, we thought that Singapore enterprises would have great potential growth and benefit from significant tailwinds due to the unstoppable rise of China, the emergence of Asean as a key economic bloc and the Singapore government's awareness and determination to drive entrepreneurship.
Up to this point, E50 has nurtured a dynamic and enduring network where entrepreneurs, investors and various players in the ecosystem get a chance to meet and make connections, learn and develop, co-invest in promising companies and take their respective businesses to new heights.
As we enter the 25th anniversary of the awards next year, we are confident that the E50 winners have the ability to stay ahead of the curve, seize early signals of the next disruption and drive multi-dimensional opportunities for all players.
With our sights set on being the leading business award in Singapore, we are committed to re-investing in the growth of our platform to help local companies globalise, recalibrate their business models and cultivate more relationships to create a win-win ecosystem that delivers exceptional value to all parties.
The key words that best encapsulate E50 in the next few years are value, transformation and internationalisation. Beyond taking enterprises to the next level of growth, we hope that the E50 Awards will continue to ignite the ambitions of local entrepreneurs to seek a global-first business strategy and further advance economic development in Singapore and abroad. This is the greatest legacy that we hope to build, and one that we know will benefit Singapore for years to come.
- The writer is head of enterprise at KPMG in Singapore