New economy drives Singapore to loosen up

The requirements of the new Internet-based economy, such as developing flexibility and creativity in people, are leading to a sea-change in Singapore government thinking.

          The requirements of the new Internet-based economy, such as developing flexibility and creativity in people, are leading to a sea-change in Singapore government thinking, deputy prime minister Tony Tan has said.

          From now on, everything is allowed in business in Singapore unless it is specifically banned; previously, what was not explicitly allowed was generally regarded as banned, Tan said according to an official transcript of a speech he gave Friday at a dinner to honor successful local technology entrepreneurs.

          "The world economy and the way businesses are run are being transformed by the triple driving forces of technological innovation, globalization and liberalization," Tan said. "Under the onslaught of these forces, old paradigms are being examined and new paradigms are being thrown up almost by the day."

          More than 500 technopreneurial (technological-entrepreneurial) companies were set up in Singapore last year, and there are now about 50 technology incubator companies in the country, Tan said.

          "Although it is too early to conclude that we have succeeded in establishing Singapore as a hub of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, the progress achieved in the last 18 months is encouraging," Tan said.

          The focus of the government's efforts is the Technopreneurship 21 program, which has achieved several important aims, according to Tan.

          These include the following:

          -- local universities and colleges are offering technopreneurship courses, while overseas colleges such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Chicago School of Business and the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) have set up local campuses or alliances

          -- a $US1 billion technopreneurship fund is almost fully committed and has attracted international venture capital companies to locate in Singapore, making finance more easily available

          -- the development of a science hub that will provide an intellectually stimulating and creative environment in which talented people can congregate, and for a community of technopreneurial players to interact.

          Bankruptcy laws have been eased to make risk-taking less intimidating for small companies and potential technopreneurs.

          The government is also making it easier for foreign IT experts and technopreneurs to work in Singapore, Tan said.

          "People will continue to be a critical resource in the new economic phase we are moving into," he said.

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