Positioning Singapore As An Entrepreneurial And Innovative Nation

by Patrick Liew on February 24, 2017

To survive and succeed through the tidal waves of technological and other disruptions, we need to groom more and better entrepreneurs and innovators.

To do that, there are three challenges ahead of us.

First, mindset challenge.

Changing mindset is one of the hardest challenges to overcome in order to groom more change-makers and to achieve sustainable results.

To move forward, we should have a healthy sense of paranoia that what we have achieved can be taken away from us.

In addition, we need a positive desperation to fight for our share of the global buffet of opportunities.

One of our founding fathers, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew constantly reminded us that our continual existence was not guaranteed.

For example, he was quoted to have said that if we didn’t have good leaders and fight for our places under the sun, our “jobs will be in peril, ..security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people’s countries, …”

The push-push forces of paranoia and desperation will help our people stay hungry.

These forces will compel them to develop the passion, mental fortitude, grit and resilience to create new pathways and radical breakthroughs.

To survive and succeed in the future economy, we cannot afford to maintain status quo and take whatever success we have for granted.

We need to continue to have great visions, plans, execution, and results.

Secondly, cultural challenge.

To develop innovators, pioneers and world-beaters, we need to strengthen our culture for entrepreneurship and innovation.

We need a whole-nation’s commitment and continuous drive to eradicate a culture of “kiasuism.” A culture that tends to avoid risks, abhor failures, and over-adore success stories.

The challenge to overcome “kiasuism” is made even more difficult because many of our people are living in a relatively affluent environment.

Many of our children are well-served by domestic helpers and are enjoying a relatively comfortable lifestyle.

How can we continue to strengthen our fighting and winning spirit?

Develop a pioneering spirit to try, tinker and test new ways to improve the world around us?

How can we learn from failures and rejections and bounce back from overcoming them to achieve success?

To thrive as a smart nation, we need to transform the culture of “kiasuism” to a culture of “cheongism”, a culture that pushes the limits, pioneers new horizons, and pursues a higher quality of life and growth.

Thirdly, ecosystem challenge.

Entrepreneurship and innovation cannot be merely taught and created.

We have to develop the ecosystem to foster its growth, an ecosystem where entrepreneurship and innovation are encouraged, valued and supported.

To cultivate a “cheonging” culture, we need to start from the young.

Groom them to become pioneers throughout their formal educational and lifelong learning journey.

We should also continue to attract the best of enterprises and talents to our shores.

By turning Singapore into a research and development hub and a test bed for new business models and initiatives, it can help us move up the entrepreneurial and innovation curve.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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