Govt will help SMEs build innovative capacity to face post-pandemic challenges: Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE – The Government will support the growth of local manufacturers by helping them build their capacity to innovate and ride the next wave of growth, said Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing.

On a visit to Sanwa Plastic’s Woodland factory on Monday (Feb 8), Mr Chan said local companies need to look beyond price competitiveness and develop a niche for themselves so that they will not be easily displaced in the global supply chain.

The minister described the various Government initiatives and schemes available for local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), like Sanwa, to help them achieve the transformation by innovating their products and processes, accessing larger markets beyond Singapore and developing their talents.

The schemes include the Productivity Solutions Grant, Scale-up SG, Enterprise Leadership for Transformation and Automation Support Package, he added.

“Our SMEs are competing in an increasingly challenging business environment. There is an urgent need for our SMEs to innovate their offerings to meet customers’ changing needs, and stay relevant in today’s evolving landscape,” said Mr Chan.

His visit to the precision equipment and medical device maker follows last month’s announcement of Singapore’s plan to become a global business, innovation, and talent hub for advanced manufacturing by 2030.

For Singapore’s economy the manufacturing sector is a critical pillar that defied the disruptions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and local SMEs – like Sanwa – represent over 90 per cent of businesses in the manufacturing sector, he noted.

While the economy shrank by a record 5.8 per cent last year, according to advance data, manufacturing is estimated to have grown by about 7 per cent.

Mr Chan stressed that SMEs must undertake the transformation to ensure continuous productivity improvement, for example through the adoption of Industry 4.0, referring to the automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices though smart technology.

He said there are also great opportunities in the region and beyond, both in terms of the market for Singapore-made products, as well as resources that local companies can tap on to enhance their competitiveness and resilience.

“We must be bold about seizing these regional and global opportunities,” he said.

SMEs must also strengthen their ability to develop their leadership bench and attract local talents at all levels to enhance the resilience of their workforce, the minister said.

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While upscaling their innovation capacity by utilising modern technology, companies should also prepare their existing workforce for the transformation by reskilling and upskilling them, he said.

“To strengthen the capabilities of our local enterprises it is not sufficient for us to let them depend just on their own network. We will make available to them many other capabilities and services beyond the respective companies capabilities in order to help them to strengthen their competitiveness and product development.”

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