SINGAPORE: The public sector must embrace entrepreneurial culture and find new ways of delivering its services.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this at the 5th BlueSky Conference, organised by the Action Community for Entrepreneurship, a Singapore organisation that promotes entrepreneurship.
It used to take five days and S$1,200 to incorporate a business in Singapore. Now, this can be done in just 15 minutes and at a quarter of the previous cost.
This is one example how Singapore's public sector can be more supportive of start-ups. Prime Minister Lee said: "Public sector entrepreneurship requires officers to take risks, because new methods and technology may fail to work. But, when they do, when they work, they can bring very significant benefits to Singapore.
"Therefore, it's imperative that the public sector creates an environment where officers feel safe to experiment and take the chance of failure, just like in the private sector."
Beyond getting the public sector to think more like businessmen, Mr Lee also felt that Singapore companies should get together when taking on new overseas markets.
Business leaders who have done so clearly see the benefits. Jocelyn Chng, managing director of Sin Hwa Dee Foodstuff Industries, said: "We actually moved much faster, penetrated into the market much faster, the buyers there are more willing to accept Singapore products because we move together." Other established Singapore-grown companies are also seizing new opportunities to fly the Singapore flag in global markets.
Charles Wong, managing director of Charles & Keith International, said: "US online business is big. If we can have just 10 per cent of people buying online from us, easily, it's millions of people. If you are selling 30 US dollars, that's like 30 million US dollars immediately."
Another key area is educating the young about running a business. So far, some 32,000 students have benefited from a series of workshops conducted by industry players. Schools, too, are imparting business skills in the classrooms.
This may be why over the last five years, the number of start-ups in Singapore has gone up by 30 per cent and the number of patents filed has climbed 26 per cent.
For Singapore - which has long lamented the lack of entrepreneurs - Prime Minister Lee also said the city-state needs to have the right environment to attract international entrepreneurial talent.