The Straits Times, 26 November 2016
SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer discussed whether Singapore could improve on its position as a place to develop innovations that make a difference for the world. He highlighted three areas that Singapore does well in and the areas where it could do better. Prof De Meyer emphasised that we also need passion for innovation, tolerance for a bit of messiness and creativity, a great openness to the world, and the modesty that we cannot be good at everything. Finally, he opined that we may have to make choices about which technologies and systems we can excel in. It is a simple strategy of differentiation and focus. As a small nation, Singapore must choose some niche areas in which it wants to be the best.
The Straits Times, 13 August 2016
Professor De Meyer offered five observations to help Singapore’s start-ups scale up to be larger firms. First, investment in the capital of the new firm appears to be much more effective than grants or subsidies of an equal amount. Second, he highlighted the importance of networking, stressing that international and in particular regional expansion will be necessary. Third, he said it is important to help entrepreneurial ventures diversify technologically. Fourth, he stressed that education for entrepreneurship needs to shift gradually towards education for growth. Lastly, Prof De Meyer pointed out the need to invest more in design, in terms of the broader concerns of the definition and establishment of product concepts and development road maps, or the translation of social evolution into product designs. He concluded that we will need to be patient to see some of these scalers develop, but we also need to start now with creating the conditions for their success.
The Straits Times, 16 July 2016
Instead of shooting for 'unicorns' – firms with a turnover of US$1 billion – Singapore can aim to groom more successful medium-sized companies, wrote Professor De Meyer. He stressed that Singapore's innovation ecosystem requires a more regional, not just local or global, mindset. He said that SMU's faculty had a lively internal debate on what such a future could hold when the Government initiated consultations on the Future of our Economy early this year. While the SMU faculty come from very diverse disciplines, common themes emerged and words such as “innovation” and “disruption” came back again and again. He highlighted that the emphasis of the recommendations is on the creation of an ecosystem in which innovation can blossom. A second theme is the economic opportunities offered by connectivity, based on information and communication technologies (digital connectivity). Lastly, a third theme is that Singapore can be a leader in the tropics in the development of a closed-loop economy.
The Straits Times, 30 May 2016
Professor De Meyer shared his insights on the ever-evolving higher education landscape, as well as the role of universities in transforming young people into economically productive individuals. He noted that instead of trying to prepare young people for specific jobs, universities will have to prepare their students for "a portfolio of careers". To do so, universities need to foster capabilities in areas such as flexibility, innovation and social intelligence. Students must know how to make choices and decisions, and how to learn from experience. Prof De Meyer stressed that universities must bring the real world into the classroom and make education more experiential, adding that they must be prepared to try out new ways of learning and teaching to optimise learning. SMU is doing just that with SMU-X courses, where lessons are centred on solving real-world problems. Prof De Meyer said the collaborative way of learning in SMU-X is designed to mimic the workplace, where students in SMU-X teams are drawn from different faculties so they learn to work with people from different backgrounds, who might have different viewpoints.
The Straits Times, 7 May 2016
The assumption that productivity declines with age is factually wrong, given that research in many industrialised countries shows clearly that productivity does not diminish with age. Singapore needs to develop an environment that will enable ageing people to remain productive, in order to remain competitive. In view of this, there are five ways to raise productivity. First of all, it is necessary to dispel stereotypes that older people are wiser but less productive: with the right tools and in the right environment, they can be both wiser and more productive. We should research and reorganise the tools, the environment and the education needed to keep our long-living workforce productive; invest in more flexible working arrangements for older people who may be interested in different lifestyles and work arrangements; and get rid of the notion that older people cannot learn, or the idea that it is not a good investment to have them learn new skills. Finally, we should not underestimate that elderly people know better the needs and challenges of elderly customers. We should design services and products appropriate for long-living people and delivered by long-living people, in addition to focusing on living longer and working longer and well.
The Business Times, 16–17 April 2016
Singapore needs to create more value per worker and stimulate growth, and assuming that we do not add more people to the workforce, there are only two ways to do this: innovate or become more productive. In the pursuit of innovation, some of Singapore’s R&D investment will lead to new business and employment, however, we must have the capacity to absorb the results of that research. It also takes time to capture the value of these investments – between 14 and 20 years may be required. To preserve salary increases over the short term, we will need to focus on productivity improvement. Singapore needs to invest in working smarter, particularly in services. The first of five suggestions is to understand what the real needs are in services, and invest in offering newly-defined services as well as in providing existing services in better ways. We should remove the inefficiencies in the delivery of services; put in more effort in keeping our elderly workers as productive as younger ones; and consider how to make better use of unused or underused capacity and adopt a shared economy approach where services share the same physical assets. Finally, automation can help and should be considered for sectors such as F&B, insurance, banking, home services, cleaning.
The Straits Times, 30 March 2016
Professor De Meyer said that Singapore has to retain manufacturing industry’s share of its GDP, if not increase it. He cited three reasons: First, many service jobs are directly generated by manufacturing activities, and often need to be located close to the factories. Second, according to a series of studies in the United Kingdom, manufacturers are more inclined to innovate. Third, without manufacturing, it is often difficult to capture the value in the other parts of the value chain. Prof De Meyer said that Singapore needs to attract and retain the rooted type of factories, the ones that do not require low-cost labour and can benefit from our industrial commons. He suggested four ways to do so: First, our mindset has to be that of being a node in a network. Second, we need to play our part to help ensure that the macroeconomic stability extends to the whole of Asean. Third, factories require an attractive industrial ecosystem. Finally, we need an outstanding ecosystem of institutions that can provide good skills and human capital. Universities, polytechnics and ITE all have a significant role to play.
The Straits Times, 9 November 2015
Professor De Meyer was invited by the Singapore Ministry of Education to deliver a keynote speech, “The Future of Singapore Workforce. Getting it right – Technology, Innovation and Talent Management” at their Education and Career Guidance Seminar on 30 October 2015. The event was graced by Guest-of-Honour, Acting Minister for Education (Schools) and Senior Minister of State for Transport Mr Ng Chee Meng and attended by educators, career counsellors and industry partners. The Straits Times published on 9 November 2015, Professor De Meyer’s opinion editorial article, which is an extract of his keynote speech.
SMU Podcast, July 2013
In this podcast, Professor Arnoud De Meyer shares how companies are discovering opportunities to build advantage. And they do this by creating loosely coupled networks or ecosystems.
Last updated on 7 Mar 2017.