Opening the 2017 Startup Weekend Singapore (SWSG) Mega was Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat, and he had one key lesson for everyone.
Innovation does not take place in isolation.
Nowhere else were these words more pertinent than in NUS UTown’s Stephen Riady Centre.
Gathered were over 500 attendees, some closer to home while others, flying in from Nigeria. These global faces had converged in Singapore for one reason – to pursue their passion for startups.
“Among you are the founders of the next great startup,” says MP Heng, gesturing towards an avid audience.
Carousell, ShopBack and Flocations found their beginnings at SWSG, others were “bitten by the entrepreneurship bug” elsewhere.
“The stories are different, but you’re connected by the vision of finding new, better ways of doing things and creating new value through innovation”.
“But what does innovation mean?”
It Is An Outcome And A Process
As outcomes, innovation is the products and services. As a process, it is also how that product or experience “solves problems.” It raises productivity to change markets and societies.
“Innovation is non-linear and unpredictable”.
“Understand needs” and don’t approach things “head-on, but from all angles […] tweak, experiment and learn from your mistakes.”
It Is A Mindset And Attitude
It is a “drive to create value”, it requires a “readiness to embrace risk, to try and try again.”
And in this, the ecosystem is crucial.
Catalyse The Ecosystem
Startups “engineer skillsets, processes and an innovative culture”.
They contribute “transformations of larger firms in mutually beneficial relationships”.
Meanwhile, larger companies bring “fruitful new opportunities to move the entire sector forward”. They provide startups with “credibility and resources.”
Educational institutions “foster the spirit of learning and innovation and hopefully, lifelong learners.”
Government stakeholders (e.g. Startup SG) provide support to startups at different stages, mentorship, grants as well as support incubators and accelerators.
Minister Heng also launched Pollinate at Block71 recently, stating that “[they] will continue to actively develop technopreneurial talent to drive innovation and enterprise”.
Pollinate is the first incubator focusing on entrepreneurship ventures by polytechnic alumni. Currently, there are 14 startups in the 728 sqm space, and the goal is 30 by 2020.
This highlights how “innovation does not take place in isolation.”
“It is a product of a lively ecosystem of entrepreneurs, founders, mentors, corporates, education institutions and others.”
Innovation, Experimentation And Collaboration
“Each party brings unique strengths and insights [so that] the whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
“The journey ahead will brings trials, but also triumphs, so dedicate yourself to the process of failing, learning and doing. Pursue your ideas with the mindset of partnership and collaboration.”
Featured Image Credit: Samantha Tay / Vulcan Post