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GITR 2012 - Singapore: Why it’s not No. 1

GITR 2012 - Singapore: Why it’s not No. 1

Singapore trailed behind Sweden [again] this year. With its robust infrastructure, healthy fundamentals and a progressive government, what’s keeping Singapore from taking the top spot?

The numbers clearly illustrate Singapore’s success in this area: 96 percent of all households with school-going children have at least one computer while broadband and mobile penetration levels stands at 86 percent and 145 percent respectively. The infocomm sector draws in SGD$70 billion in revenues and has witnessed a growth rate of around 12 percent between 2009 and 2010.

“Whichever way we look at it, the gap is innovation,” said Lanvin at the GITR 2012 press conference at INSEAD’s Asia campus on April 5 via webcast. For all the ease Singapore offers with setting up a new business, obtaining licenses and instituting an effective legal system, the country still lags in its “capacity for innovation”. It ranks 22 on this indicator, compared with Sweden at #4. “This is what will make the difference…and everything that has to do with stimulating innovation, creating new services, new business models and new attitudes.”

The Singapore government is all too aware of this and has adopted a holistic approach to tackle the problem, says James Kang, assistant chief executive of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). “It is a challenging task because if you want good innovation you have to attract the best people.” This means creating a local workforce that’s adequately educated and trained, and also cultivating that culture at very early stages. Among IDA’s education initiatives is FutureSchools@Singapore, a primary school programme that encourages local schools to adopt interactive digital technologies into its teaching curriculum and methodologies, Kang told INSEAD Knowledge on the sidelines of the press conference. There’s also the need for attracting and managing foreign talent and businesses, which entails creating not only an efficient business environment but also offering a high standard of living, good schools, and other conveniences that make it easy for families to relocate.

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