SIPC 2014 drives home the message: Transform to Perform

Some 300 participants converged recently to learn more about the hows and whys of innovation at the Singapore Innovation and Productivity Conference (SIPC) 2014 on 8 and 9 October 2014. Organised by the Singapore Innovation and Productivity Institute (SiPi), a centre of excellence under the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), SIPC 2014 was an integral part of the National Productivity Month, a national-level initiative to showcase and share ideas, methods and perspectives on how companies can improve productivity.

The stage was set for the annual SIPC, with this year being the first time that the conference was held over a period of two days

The theme of SIPC 2014, held at the Suntec City Convention Centre, was “Transform to Perform”, which underscored the call-to-action for companies to embrace continuous innovation and raise productivity to enhance their competitiveness. The participants heard from more than eight speakers including top-notch industrialists, chief executives, academicians and researchers. The conference speaker line-up included:

  • Dr Wolfgang Baier, Group CEO, Singapore Post Limited (“Modernising Mail: Transforming for a Digital Singapore”);
  • Prof Hang Chang Chieh, Executive Director, Institute for Engineering Leadership, and Head, Division of Engineering & Technology Management, NUS (“Disruptive Technology Innovations and Business Models”);
  • Dr Lai Ah Keow, President, Yokogawa Electric Asia Pte Ltd (“Yokogawa’s World-Class Manufacturing Journey”);
  • Mr Tay Woon Teck, Managing Director, RSM Ethos Pte Ltd (“Innovating to Zero!”);
  • Prof Serguei Netessine, Timken Chaired Professor of Global Technology and Innovation, and Research Director, INSEAD-Wharton Alliance, INSEAD (“Helping Innovators Clear a Better Path to Innovation”); and
  • Mr Liau Eng Soon, Director of the Science and Engineering Council, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (“Exploiting Technology for Business Transformation”)

The conference participants also heard the success stories of two of the SMF Business Model Innovation Award-winning companies. Mr Alan Chua, Executive Director of Concorde Security Pte Ltd, and Mr Masoud Bassiri of Consistel Pte Ltd, each presented their company’s award-winning story at the conference.

Also presented at the conference were the preliminary findings of SiPi’s debut research and benchmarking studies, which shed light on issues such as total factor productivity benchmarking results and drivers of Business Model Innovation (BMI) in Singapore.

Mr Douglas Foo, SMF’s President and also Sakae Sushi’s executive chairman, delivered the keynote speech on “The Sakae Story”.  Mr Foo spoke about his company’s journey towards building a ‘brand with a soul’, focusing on its management practices around four key success pillars that have created a beneficial eco-system friendly to customers, employees, talents, partners and community. Mr Foo, who attended the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship programme last year, also shared his invaluable experience which led to a paradigm shift in thinking about business growth, global brands and sustainability.

In his welcome address, Mr Foo said, “Besides opening up opportunities to transform the value propositions and revenue models of an organisation, BMI also presents a chance for you to redefine your business model to one that will lead you amongst your competitors. BMI is crucial for companies to achieving exponential growth through redesigning and reinventing business models.”

Mr. Douglas Foo delivered the welcome address at SIPC 2014. During the conference, he also spoke passionately about his Sakae branding story, as a part of his keynote presentation

The SIPC 2014 was graced by Mr. S Iswaran, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry. In his opening address, Mr Iswaran said, “Trade associations, such as the Singapore Manufacturing Federation also play a key role in raising awareness of productivity and Government schemes, providing productivity advice, and promoting best practices amongst their members. I would therefore urge SMF and our other trade associations to continue your good work in rallying the industry to boost productivity.”

The Singapore Innovation and Productivity Conference 2014 was officially declared open by Minister S. Iswaran 

Mr Iswaran highlighted that with the changing global manufacturing landscape, there are several key trends and developments that Singapore manufacturers will need to keep pace with. “For example, the nature of global demand for manufacturing goods has changed.  Consumers increasingly look to manufacturers not just for products, but also for services, particular in business-to-business markets. On the supply side, disruptive innovations such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing have also resulted in new production possibilities,” he said.

He added that the Government’s Future of Manufacturing initiative aims to help transform our manufacturing sector and establish Singapore as the Advanced Manufacturing Hub in Asia. “We will help our businesses develop and adopt new technologies in order to build up industry capabilities in areas such as additive manufacturing, robotics, and manufacturing information technology. This will enable companies to enhance their competitiveness, change the way they operate, and create new growth opportunities and diverse jobs for Singaporeans.” According to Mr Iswaran, investing in technological improvement and equipment is not the only way to unlock productivity gains. Companies can also redesign their business processes to improve their employees’ performance.

Minister Iswaran delivered the opening address

Mr Iswaran also presented the WDA-SMF Productivity and Innovation Awards 2014 to nine companies which have implemented and achieved significant productivity improvements after completing either the WSQ Certified Productivity & Innovation (CPI) Manager programme, or the SME Quality Initiatives to Assist, Nurture and Grow (SME QIANG) training programme.  Since 2010, 134 companies have adopted these initiatives and more than 500 individuals have been trained.

Congratulations to this year’s WDA-SMF Productivity and Innovation Awards!

After the awards ceremony, Minister Iswaran also toured around the awardee exhibition area to find out more about each company
Delegates found the SIPC 2014 a great platform to learn about innovation.  Said Mr Tan Ka Huat, Managing Director of CEI Contract Manufacturing Limited, “I found the SIPC 2014 refreshing with a relevant and topical focus on innovation. Content-wise, the conference has offered great value in terms of new learnings and excellent practices pursued by the innovative players. I think my investment of time at SIPC was worthwhile.” Mr Khor Bean Sin, a Manager from Panasonic Asia Pacific, said, “This conference has provided me with interesting insights on best practices and innovation ideas which I intend to share with my bosses.”

Singapore Innovation & Productivity Conference 2013

Business Model Innovation Creates, Captures and Delivers Value

The Singapore Innovation & Productivity Conference 2013, held on 25 October 2013 at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, attracted more than 350 participants from the manufacturing sector and wider business community. Themed “Business Model Innovation: Redefining Possibilities”, the conference highlighted how Business Model Innovation can transform companies to capture and deliver value to customers.

Organised by Singapore Innovation & Productivity Institute (SiPi), a centre of excellence of Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), and supported by SPRING Singapore and Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), the conference featured local and international expert speakers from academia, consultancy, research and industry.


The conference commenced with a welcome address by Mr. George Huang, President, Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF). “The road ahead for companies is an exciting one filled with abundant opportunities for change, improvement and transformation. I urge you to invest in your own innovation and productivity journey to emerge with a new impregnable set of distinguished core competencies and innovative business model,” said Mr. Huang.

Guest-of-Honour, Acting Minister for Manpower, Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin (facing front) exchanging ideas with Mr. George Huang, President, Singapore Manufacturing Federation (next to Minister Tan Chuan-Jin) and representatives from SPRING Singapore, WDA and the SMF Council, before the conference


Guest-of-Honour, Acting Minister for Manpower, Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin, proceeded with an opening address. “If we were to continue with the way we used to do things, the business opportunity will be there but I do not think that we are able to transform. This means that we need to move to a more productivity-led growth as compared to a manpower heavy growth. If we are able to jump to the next curve, I think it allows us to move ourselves up in quite significant areas,” shared Minister Tan Chuan-Jin.

Mr. George Huang, President, SMF, sharing on the impact of Business Model Innovation and how SMF practices it to serve the manufacturing sector in Singapore further


Guest-of-Honour, Acting Minister for Manpower, Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin, gives a deeper perspective on the local business and economic situation at his opening address

The Singapore economy undergoing restructuring to transit into an evolved business landscape, causing companies are tackling the external changes through various innovation and productivity initiatives.

To encourage and recognise these initiatives, SMF Centre for Corporate Learning (CCL) and WDA jointly established the Productivity & Innovation Awards 2013. 20 companies were presented this award at SIPC 2013 following their completion of the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Certified Productivity & Innovation Manager (WSQ CPI Manager) and SME Quality Initiatives to Assist, Nurture and Grow (SME QIANG) training courses.


Winners from the CPI Manager Category


Gold winner from the SME QIANG category, Horsburgh Engineering (F.E.) Pte Ltd, provides end-to-end services in areas such as housekeeping, landscaping and pest control. Through SME QIANG, the company managed to streamline their work processes for cleaning toilets, which have led to a 63 per cent rise in productivity. “With the tightening labour market, we need to look into ways to improve productivity. SME QIANG is the first programme that is applicable to the cleaning industry. This is a programme that companies can look into to help them stay competitive in the market,” shared Ms. Sharon Kee, Director, Horsburgh Engineering (F.E.) Pte Ltd.

Winners from the SME QIANG Category

Keynote speaker, Mr. Chow Phee Chat, Director – Marketing (Coffee, Beverages & Liquid Drinks), Nestle Singapore, then shared how the company practiced Business Model Innovation (BMI) to capture a new market segment. Nestle Singapore expanded their business to offer drinks in capsules. Famous products include Nespresso and Nescafe Dolce Gusto. This move created new consumer demands as Nestle did not just offer drinks but a whole new lifestyle.

An interactive tour then ensued. Acting Minister Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin visited the exhibitor booths, such as M Metal Pte Ltd and 3D Matters Pte Ltd, to find out more about the latest business products and offerings in the market, as well as to interact with SMEs to understand their business situations.


Guest-of-Honour, Acting Minister for Manpower, Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin, noting how local companies are coping and learning about their best practices at the exhibition tour

Five experts discussed BMI more in depth after the tour. Presentation topics included how to create customer value using BMI, BMI in the 4th Era of Innovation and Asia’s Innovation Culture.

“It is important to work on a culture strategy as it has a long-term impact in the organisation. Leaders, incentive schemes and targets need to be aligned to the culture for the strategy to be successful. Once implemented, the management then needs to continually monitor the strategy’s progress and make small tweaks to ensure that the effects of the new culture is moving the company forward,” said Ms. Kristine Oustrup, CEO & Creative Director, Business Innovation Culture.

After which, participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas with the speakers over the panel discussion “How Singapore Companies Can Transform with Business Model Innovation?”. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Michael Teng, Assistant Secretary-General, SMF.

Staying true to the theme of the conference, the panel discussion incorporated technology from Pigeonhole, which offers real-time conference Q&A tools for participants to interact with panelists using their mobile phones.


Some participants questioned the need for BMI. “Our SMEs face challenging business models. From Singapore’s roots as an entrepot, many local companies are traders, distributors and agents. In the globalised and internet era, the trader role is becoming marginalized as it is much easier today for buyers to seek out manufacturers directly. In addition, many companies are also dependent on foreign labour due to the low labour costs. With the tightening of manpower policies, companies now face increased costs and manpower shortage. To survive, SMEs need to creatively rethink their processes to create a new competitive edge and to ensure productive use of manpower. This can be done through BMI,” explained Dr. Michael Teng on the business market.

Panelists (from L – R) Mr. Scott D. Anthony, Managing Partner, Innosight; Ms. Kristine Oustrup, CEO & Creative Director, Business Innovation Culture; Dr. Michael Teng, Assistant Secretary-General, SMF; Mr. Jeffrey Chua, Senior Partner and Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group; and Mr. Richard Mak, Founder of Zeroes-to-Heroes Board Game

The second panel discussion, moderated by Mr. Calvin Soh, Founder of Ninety-nine Percent, was on “Realising Business Model Innovation: The Right Enablers and Motivations”.


One of the most popular questions asked by the audience over Pigeonhole was “We have heard of innovations that are successful. However, what are the failed innovations, and what lessons can we learn from that?”

Second panel discussion with panelists (from L – R) Mr. Gilbert Tan, CEO, Employment and Employability Institute; Ms. Gwendolyn Regina T, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief,; Mr. Calvin Soh, Founder, Ninety-Nine Percent; Mr. Brendan O’Shaughnessy, Commercial Director, Southeast Asia, Tigerspike; and Mr. Liau Eng Soon, Director, Technology Adoption Programme, A*STAR

In response, Mr. Brendan O’Shaughnessy, Commercial Director, Southeast Asia, Tigerspike, said “MySpace was a social network which once created a phenomena. However, it has been overshadowed with the likes of later entrants such as Facebook and Twitter. The key lesson from this is that innovation is a culture. If you stop innovating, you would not merely stand still. You would be left behind.”

“It is important to consider the current market. There was one instance where my friends started a location based messenger. When you are logged on, you can interact with friends who are near your location. The user base for this did not grow fast enough so this idea eventually died off. However, Foursquare then came in and made waves globally. Sometimes, it is not wise to innovate ahead of time,” shared Ms. Gwendolyn Regina T, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief,

The conference ended with positive feedback from participants. “The topic on Business Model Innovation is very interesting and unique. The speakers are knowledgeable and diverse, so it provided a good understanding from a wide intersection of backgrounds and industries. It was great insight in moving companies forward. I will take the learning from this conference and see how to apply it in my business,” concluded Mr. Kimming Yap, Managing Director, Creativeans Pte Ltd.

Advocating BMI, another major BMI initiative that SiPi is embarking on is a national research study on business model innovation later this year. The outcome of the study will help improve productivity innovatively and innovation productively through the use of right business models.

SIPC 2013 organisers would like to thank all supporters and sponsors for their generous support in making this successful event possible.

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Singapore Innovation & Productivity Conference 2012

Official Launch of Singapore Innovation & Productivity Institute

30 October 2012 – The Singapore Innovation and Productivity Institute was officially launched in conjunction with the Singapore Innovation & Productivity Conference 2012.

Graced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry & National Development, Mr Lee Yi Shyan together with SMF President, Mr George Huang, Deputy President, Mr Michael Chin, Chairman for SiPi Board of Advisors, Mr Valerio Nannini, Deputy CE for SPRING, Mr Tan Kai Hoe triggered the launch mechanism, unveiling the SiPi logo to a hearty audience of 250 at the conference.

In Mr Lee’s speech, he shared that “SiPi functions as a one-stop shop for companies wishing to seek productivity assistance and advice. It will help enterprises implement their specific productivity roadmaps and to undertake research to develop tools and localise best practices. I urge all companies and agencies to work with SiPi to help boost the efforts of SMEs in their productivity and innovation journeys.”

He recognised that local manufacturing companies have progressed with time, with more companies infusing innovation and technology in their businesses. However, he highlighted it was more important to have mass transformation to reach the national productivity target growth of 2 to 3 per cent per year over the next 10 years.

SiPi has a wide spectrum of innovation and productivity offerings for SME manufacturers; leveraging on knowledge implementation, generation, dissemination and repository.


Singapore Innovation & Productivity Conference 2012

30 October 2012 – “Innovation: Reaching New Frontiers of Productivity” was the theme of the third edition of the Singapore Innovation & Productivity Conference, a signature conference by Singapore Manufacturing Federation since the call for national productivity movement in 2010.

This year’s conference featured some top-notch speakers from the innovation field, with their generous sharing of on innovation-led productivity and the various ways to embark and sustain productivity. Speakers include Peter Koen, Associate Professor from Wesley J. Howe School of Technology Management; David Conner, Former CEO of OCBC; Yoshihiro Ishida, Chief Consultant, Operation Design Division, JMA Consultants Inc; David Wilkins, Partner, DPI Singapore; Viktor Cheng, Deputy Chief Executive, Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS)  and Rainer Krause, Managing Director, ELO APAC.

The afternoon session also saw a breakout of 3 fire-starter learning themes from different levels, role-based, process-based, technology-based, where participants explored either one of the three topics, Open Innovation, Systems Engineering for Productivity, and Total Risk Assessment Tools for Better management of supply chain.

Prof Tang

At the conference, a total of 11 companies were also honored as part of WDA-SMF Productivity and Innovation Awards 2012 for their efforts in embarking on productivity projects through training programmes such as WSQ CPI Mgr and SME QIANG.


Group Awardee

The conference also showcased more than 20 exhibition booths at its Hall of Innovation & Solutions Exhibition, where academic institutes’ Centres of Innovation and solutions providers exhibited their commercial offerings to boost enterprise productivity. Top three winners and best SMEs of the WDA-SMF Productivity and Innovation Awards 2012 also showcased their projects at the exhibition.

exhibition exhibition exhibition

SIPC 2012 organisers would like to thank all supporters and sponsors for their generous support in making this successful event possible.

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