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Singapore: An Industry Update

A look at where Singapore stands in three key areas

22Jun

Singapore has long been a global finance, transport, and commerce hub. As the fourth-richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita, the city-state is well placed to drive innovation and become a truly international hub. Singapore is in competition with the likes of Korea, Japan, and newly emerging India for the title of Asia’s most innovative nation, and we’ve taken a look at three key areas to assess the city-state’s progress.

Innovation

In the Global Innovation Index for this year, Singapore was ranked seventh - slipping one spot from sixth place as Switzerland retained its top spot. Relatively low taxes and general government investment in innovation makes Singapore an attractive place for international companies to expand their innovation efforts. In April this month, the country announced that it is creating a S$1 billion ($718 billion) fund to ‘help innovative companies develop their businesses and expand overseas, part of the city state’s drive to boost economic growth,’ according to Bloomberg.

The drive is reflected in apparent enthusiasm from large, multinational corporations. MasterCard, for example, has recently opened a new innovation showcase in the city dedicated to the emerging field of fintech. MasterCard hope that by having a hub on the continent perhaps most comfortable with mobile payments and alternative finance, it can become a leader itself. Similarly, Italian company Ferrero has opened an innovation center in Singapore to operate as its Asian hub, along with German company Symrise, which has expanded its existing headquarters with a new innovation center. As the Singaporean economy continues to thrive, it looks as though innovation in the city-state will be well catered for.

Smart Nation

One area in which Singapore is careering ahead is the Smart Nation. Development in the Internet of Things is forcing governments to consider how they can harness it to improve connectivity, solve problems, and make cities more efficient. As part of this, Singapore’s government has announced plans to dedicate US$1.7 billion to private sector partnership in 2017. The announcement was fittingly made at the Smart Nation and Digital Government Industry Briefing, and Singapore is positioning itself as a leader in the space.

According to TechInAsia, the government will work with ‘industry vendors, including small businesses and startups, to develop technologies in data analytics and sensors as well as communications infrastructure that will connect internet-of-things sensor networks with data centers.’ Though Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong admitted in April that progress wasn’t quite as speedy as expected, Singapore is well placed to implement a smart nation agenda given its wealth, its relatively tiny size, and its entirely urban population. With government backing added to this already promising outlook, Singapore is set to be an international example of how cities can be modernized.

Risk Management

For all that Singapore is excelling on the aforementioned fronts, it is not doing enough to encourage sensible business liability policies, with companies reportedly only addressing liability risks after they experience an incident, according to a QBE Insurance report. While most Singaporean companies have business insurance in some form - including general accident and employee compensation cover - just over half have insurance to cover business liability.

According to Today, of the businesses that have suffered a sensitive data breach, ‘less than two out of three business [took] action afterwards - including buying insurance cover.’ Karl Hamann, CEO at QBE Insurance Singapore, said: ‘In an increasingly litigious world, with professional liability high on the agenda, there is an obvious concern that Singapore’s companies need to be doing more to protect themselves and their customers. Quite alarmingly, one in five respondents in Singapore said that having business liability insurance has never really crossed their minds.’ This concern coincides with a major increase in instances of cyber disruption, and Singaporean businesses need to be doing more to protect themselves financially going forward. 

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