Innovation 'is key for business success and needs right mindset'

The 15 finalists of Emerging Enterprise Awards show that innovation is not limited to large or 'deep tech' firms, says minister


INNOVATION remains a critical ingredient of business success, especially with disruptive forces affecting Singapore's industries today - disruptive forces which include new technologies, tighter operating constraints and changes in consumer demand patterns, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

Speaking at the Emerging Enterprise Awards event on Friday, he stressed the importance of having the right mindset towards innovation.

Many people think that only big companies can afford to undertake innovation, he said, but the 15 award finalists show that innovation is not an undertaking limited to large firms.

Dr Koh also emphasised that innovation should not be restricted to companies in deep-technology sectors such as biomedical sciences, healthcare or deep engineering. Thinking that way would be "seriously wrong", he said.

"There are many things that we can do, and having this kind of mindset - that technology innovation can only be in high-tech sectors - is unnecessarily limiting to business owners, especially those who may be in a traditional sector looking to transform.

"We need to look beyond just the technology itself, and look at the application of technology - and see how we can leverage that to gain active business opportunities and enter new markets."

For their innovative spirit, FOMO Pay, AEvice Health, XM Studios were each lauded as winners of the Emerging Enterprise Award at the black-tie event held at The Ritz Carlton hotel.

FOMO Pay is a provider of QR code payment solutions; AEvice Health develops wearable devices for asthmatic people, while XM Studios designs and produces hand-crafted luxury art collectibles.

Aside from the main prize, three companies were recognised for Best Innovation: EndoMaster, which aims to create the world's first flexible robotic system for endo-luminal surgery to treat early-stage gastrointestinal cancer; Engine Biosciences, which uses data analytics and machine-learning to speed up the discovery of new drugs; and Whizpace, which taps unused television broadcasting airwaves to transport data.

Local designer toy studio Mighty Jaxx and builder of small, eco-friendly homes for rent, Big Tiny, each bagged the Most Promising Startup Award.

The annual awards, jointly organised by The Business Times and OCBC Bank, celebrate Singapore's young businesses with annual sales turnover of up to S$20 million. Now in their 11th year, the awards remain the only such prize for entrepreneurship here, shining a spotlight on this group of businesses.

The awards are supported by ACORN Marketing & Research Consultants, Enterprise Singapore, INSEAD, MasterCard, RSM, Singtel and Wavemaker.