Business Sense: Singapore’s EDB helps Norwegian companies succeed and prosper
To attract and support these companies is the Singapore Economic Development Board ( EDB), the lead government agency for planning and executing strategies to enhance Singapore’s position as a global business centre.
“Singapore has undergone a rapid economic transformation in the last 50 years based on an investments-led growth strategy,” explains Lim Kok Kiang, Assistant Managing Director, EDB. “EDB has played a significant role in this transformation journey. Much of this success can be attributed to our ability to bring in top companies, capital and talent to keep our economy growing and vibrant. Going forward, Singapore is calibrating its strategy to yield high quality, sustainable growth that meets an advanced economy’s needs.”
The work of the EDB can be summarised as Attract-Transform-Create (ATC). In the area of attract, the EDB pursues investment opportunities with existing and new companies by targeting investments that complement the city’s existing industry strengths, as well as look for growth opportunities in new areas or adjacent to key industries. This helps the city expand its portfolio of profitable niche sectors.
“Transform is about keeping our firms and industries highly productive and competitive,” explains Lim Kok Kiang. “We hope to work with companies who have large and established operations in Singapore to raise labour productivity through better deployment of technologies such as robotics and other interventions catered to our more mature industrial sectors. Where there are suitable opportunities, we would also like to help firms improve their land productivity, energy use and carbon emissions.
“Create is about catalysing innovation-driven growth in the ecosystem. EDB aims to support companies in growing new businesses. We believe that Singapore is well-placed to drive this initiative, moving from being a value-adding to value-creating partner,” says Lim Kok Kiang.
Since 1990, Singapore has steadily grown the government’s investment in building up R&D capabilities and the annual budget is now equivalent to 1 percent of the GDP. “We not only invest in our universities’ R&D but we also have an extensive network of government funded research institutes that work closely with industry to solve practical problems and to commercialise discoveries in the laboratories. Moving forward, the government has earmarked a further investment of S$19 billion for R&D from 2016 to 2020,” says Lim Kok Kiang.
Apart from R&D, as the EDB expects transformation in the global manufacturing landscape with the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies, the EDB is also working with leading manufacturers and enablers in various sectors to co-innovate advanced manufacturing solutions with EDB research institutes, institutes of higher learning and supplier ecosystem in areas such as additive manufacturing (3D printing), robotics, industrial internet of things (IIoT) and advanced materials.
It is within this framework that the EDB supports the Norwegian business community in Singapore. As of end-2014, the stock of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Singapore from Norway was estimated at S$23 billion. More than 250 Norwegian companies are based in Singapore, making the city state home to the largest concentration of Norwegian businesses in Asia. Norway is Singapore’s eighth largest trading partner from Europe and its fourth largest investor from Europe. According to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who visited Singapore during the recently held Norway-Asia Business Summit, Asia boasts some 500 Norwegian-controlled companies, providing jobs for about 60,000 people.
“Singapore’s success is due in large part to four attributes we possess as a nation: ‘ Can-do’ spirit, forwardlooking, partnerships and ingenuity,”