Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Big Boys Preferred

Years ago, an engineer visiting Panasonic Japan was waiting in the lobby when he noted a vendor delivering machined parts in a small plastic bag. His host later told him it was one of their many subcontractors who supply precision components by operating a small lathe from their homes. Back home, he told an EDB officer Singapore should have similar supporting industries. The officer said he had mooted a similar idea, but was shot down.

Lim's former employee said, "There is the sense that the Government prefers to work with established companies, not start-ups." He was referring to a Lim Kian Wee who funded his own greenfield operation to develop a electric vehicle (EV) with a range of 900 km per charge. Another entrepreneur, Clarence Tan invested $250,000 to realise his own dream of manufacturing a 2-seater air-conditioned EV. Tan also felt that the Government could have done more to support them.

The official initiative Electric Vehicle Taskforce - led by the Energy Market Authority and Land Transport Authority - launched an EV test bed for related technologies in June. The big boys invited include Daimler, Mitsubishi, Bosch, Renault and Nissan.

Tan had sought assistance from the National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2009 to test bed his battery system, but did not even receive an acknowledgement of their request. NRF denies the claim. Their spokesman says proposals are evaluated by expert panels and a successful proof of concept (POC) grant must demonstrate not just technical viability but also a high degree of commercial readiness.

One man must be familiar with the hurdles experienced by innovators like Tan. If Sim Wong Hoo did not pack his bag and headed for the US of A, the world would not have heard of Soundblaster. He, too, was rejected by EDB. Sim coined and made famous the term "No U-turn syndrome" to describe the social behaviour of the Singaporean mindset of conformity to higher authorities before taking any action. The strait jacket has to be cast off if creativity is to bloom.
Mind the speed bumps ahead


  1. Taiwan and Singapore investment in IT industy started in the 1980s. 30 years later, Taiwan companies dominate the IT world. My relative, a failed Singapore's IT entrepreneur in the 80s said the difference between Taiwan and Singapore was Taiwan invested in their SMEs but Singapore invested in GLCs and MNCs. Where is Singapore today? The sad state of affair is best captured when Chartered Semiconductor was sold to foreign buyers.

    While our high GDP per capita is the admiration of many countries, but do people see Singapore's miraculous growth is precariously hinged on financial engineering, property bubbles and gambling, all of which have detrimental impacts on society and humanity. Are ordinary Singaporeans proud of the riches the nation has accumulated so far?

    I believe Singapore and Singaporeans are much more capable if necessary changes are allowed to take place.

  2. Ang moh good, creative, innovative, new designs. Ah Tiong/Ah Neh good, cheaper, better, faster. Ah Sinkie good? Good for obey orders.

  3. If you want to deal with ppl who regularly earn xtra money doing stuff at home. Contact the Brotherhood. They have a big list. I happen to produce bicycle spokes at home. Not any kind of spokes, but high precision titanium and magnesium bicycle spokes. I have managed to turn 2 rooms into a working bench. In the first year, I did not earn much. But in the second and third year, I made more money than my day job. As they did a good job of networking me with their international bicycle corps. Now I am branching out other bicycle parts. Wish you all the best.

  4. There are lots of funding from the government (at least announced to the public) but it depends on who you know so as to get the funding. There was this guy managed to get $300K for his proposed startup and the result is zero. He did not have to pay back and was not accountable for the funding.

    The whole setup is not healthy because most of fundings are not spent. This is exactly like some support funds for poor never saw its spent. Why? This is the good work of our civil servants who managed the funds. These civil servants might have a KPI to keep spending lowest possible.

    On the other hand, if you have business done with one of the big GLC on the west, you will know this GLC will chase for account receivables but will delay purposefully to pay the account payable, up to months and even years. I do not understand what sort of best practice is this and what corporate governance is this.

    There are many issues with GLC and government departments. These are just tip of iceberg. With OSA, government is not accountable and transparent so no one in the public will know the hard truths inside.

  5. Look at open net. Money spent, but who benefits? I would say GLCs and Temasek Linked preferred.

  6. But are they listening? I doubt!

  7. When and if they considered themselves the best and most talented in the land, how to expect them to listen to the noises and cacophony of the people?

  8. Progress Engineering Services Pte. Ltd is a precision engineering manufacturing company which specializes in manufacturing high precision and complex components.
    Precision Industries