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Singapore's Lack Of Technology Based Entrepreneurial Activity

759 words - 3 pages

Singapore has great technology potential but little technology-based entrepreneurial activity. This is keeping it from achieving higher rates of economic growth and stronger export demand in the high technology space. The major problem is the lack of involvement from researchers, including professors. For example, only one professor has successfully spun off technology-based startups and only one more is actively pursuing commercial applications at the technology-focused Nanyang Technological University . To better facilitate the creation of technology-based companies, The Singaporean government should redirect some of its funding allocation from student entrepreneurship programs to create new initiatives encouraging researchers’ exploration of commercial applications of technologies in universities.

In the late 80s, the Singaporean government started concentrating more of its efforts on improving the country’s research and development capabilities and providing a favorable environment for entrepreneurship in hopes of increasing Singapore’s number of technology-based startups, which can lead to the development of a thriving technology industry in Singapore and contribute to significant economic growth. The government started many initiatives and created favorable policies that led to the creation of cutting-edge technology—especially in biotechnology and water technologies—and Singapore’s consistent top international rankings in business environment for start-ups . However, despite these advances, Singapore ranked ninth-lowest in early-stage entrepreneurial activity out of 42 countries included in the 2006 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report, and the country continued to experience low rates of technology-based entrepreneurship in the second half of the decade.

Singapore’s low level of technology-based entrepreneurship presents an unrealized potential. Academic institutions are places from which many prominent high technology companies have been founded around the world, and a potentially significant contributor to economic growth in local communities. In fact, the Kauffman Foundation estimates that companies founded through MIT—most of which are technology-based—have approximately $2 trillion in annual world sales, “producing the equivalent of the 11th-largest economy in the world” . In Singapore however, technologies developed in universities tend to stay within the institutions as academic subjects, even though they could lead to significant economic contributions if commercialized. When I interviewed the president of one of Singapore’s top universities, he has expressed his frustration toward professors’ hesitancy to explore applications of their research and technologies due to the opportunity cost of the time lost for producing papers. As a result, Singapore’s universities incubate...

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