With the rapidly evolving digital world, things are getting more connected – from digital payment solutions on our phones to smart environments that monitor and manage resources. In the business context, it is critical that we build connections and foster partnerships so that companies big and small can work together to innovate and stay competitive. This is especially relevant for emerging startups.
“Growing the startup ecosystem involves not just growing startups, but also facilitating collaborations among startups, and between startups and other organisations such as corporates and Institutes of Higher Learning,” said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Dr Koh Poh Koon at the inaugural Experience the Power of Innovation and Collaboration (EPIC) event at one-north in August 2019, which attracted over 600 attendees.
Co-organised by Action Community for Entreprenurship (ACE) and JTC, EPIC aimed to bring different stakeholders together to connect, collaborate and co-innovate, so as to grow the startup and broader enterprise ecosystem.
ACE CEO, Mr Edmas Neo, said, “Unlike most events that are either constrained to only one venue or targeting at one specific group of audiences, EPIC is a whole-island innovation open house, concurrently conducted across 35 locations.”
There were three segments curated for different groups of people, including corporates and startups looking to discover the power of co-innovation; students or professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) looking for career opportunities in startups; and members of the public who just want to catch a glimpse of how innovative companies work.
During the panel discussions at the main show in one-north, panelists of corporates and innovation enablers agreed that corporate–startup collaboration was a win-win partnership for both parties. Startups can tap on corporates’ vast resources and networks to fuel growth, while corporates can get access to innovative new ideas. Three of the participating corporates were given the opportunity to reverse pitch their problem statements to the startups, before startups with relevant solutions presented their solutions to them.
The networking does not stop there. Through the newly-launched Innovation Enablers Network (IEN), ACE is looking to share 100 innovation opportunities within the next 12 months. During this period, startups can tap corporates’ domain knowledge and channels before going to the market with their products. Mr George Heng, Vice President of SenzeHub, which produces digital health wearables, said his startup looked forward to such opportunities. “Through the sharing of digital health challenges by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), we are able to identify suitable technologies to improve the healthcare industry.”
To attract more innovation opportunities, Mr Neo shared that ACE will be conducting outreach to corporates both locally and overseas. These efforts include the Singapore Smart Cities Summit and 7th Innovation Leaders Summit. The EPIC platform, he added, “serves as a channel for sharing of innovation opportunities from the IEN members”.
EPIC also aimed to strengthen the pipeline of talents for startups. In the 2019 event, students and PMETs had access to 110 job opportunities from over 40 startups. In addition, to showcase the innovation ecosystem in Singapore, 30 partners including Accelerate Technologies, ShopBack and Igloohome opened up their premises for anyone who was interested to catch a glimpse of how they work.
Events like EPIC contribute to JTC’s community-building efforts for the startups in LaunchPad. “JTC will continue to collaborate with partners such as ACE to further strengthen the LaunchPad ecosystem and support the talent attraction efforts of our startups,” said Mr Lim Junwei, Director of JTC’s InfoComm, Media, and Startup Cluster.