Innovation key to SME growth

SINGAPORE — As Singapore exports continue to surge, primarily propelled by shipments to China, the Republic’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) should accelerate the pace of their business transformation through innovation to grab business opportunities, experts said at Singapore Business Federation’s Business Continuity Management Annual Conference on Friday (March 17).

“We are seeing a cyclical up-tick, something we have not seen over the past three years. Manufacturing is doing a lot better, spilling over positively to the services sector,” said UOB economist Mr Francis Tan at a panel discussion during the conference. “This will instill some confidence among consumers and businesses… so, SMEs must speed up now, or else they face the risk of losing out in the near term.”

“Businesses face structural issues which can no longer be resolved by pumping in more labour, given that fertility rates are low and there is no chance of an increase in foreign workers coming in at the pace we saw in the last decade. Hence, the key focus of this year’s budget is innovation,” he added.

The Republic’s SMEs, which employ around 70 per cent of the total workforce and contribute about half of Singapore’s GDP, must innovate to stay relevant and competitive. Singapore companies can borrow a leaf from Japan’s book, which is high on innovation and

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