Transformational careers at IPI
Shaped by the valuable experiences and opportunities from their time at IPI, two former staff share how a career at IPI propelled them to make a difference in open innovation.
A shining example of an extraordinary innovation landscape, Singapore has topped the charts in multiple international intellectual property (IP) surveys, ranking third in the 2020 International Property Rights Index, third on the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index and eighth on the 2020 Global Innovation Index, to name a few. To accomplish this feat, every piece of the puzzle—from government agencies to technology start-ups, and down to every person within those organisations—must work together to encourage more collaborations and cultivate a stronger innovation culture.
As an important piece in Singapore’s innovation landscape, IPI partners with enterprises to facilitate and support their innovation processes and get their ideas to the market. To do this, IPI considers their people their most valuable asset when it comes to working with different enterprises across multiple industries as well as creatively solving the problems of industry powerhouses with innovative technologies.
Two former employees share the benefits of working at IPI, the skills and valuable experiences they gained from their time there, and advice for anyone looking to enter and thrive in the exciting world of open innovation and technology scouting.
Putting knowledge into practice
For Melvyn Ho, currently an Open Innovation Initiative Leader at Swiss specialty chemicals provider Clariant, IPI gave him a deep understanding not only of intellectual property, but also technology scouting, business models and contracts. Beyond run-of-the-mill information about the innovation and business landscape, Ho's knowledge was put to the test at IPI as he had to apply what he knew to the assigned projects and adjust concepts to real world problems. “Working on IPI projects kept me on my toes, and to always be ready with a backup plan,” he shared.
Particularly memorable among the pool of fascinating businesses Ho was supporting was a sake-brewing enterprise in Japan that was looking to expand beyond their borders. Armed with a fresh idea and the technology to back it, the Japanese enterprise was seeking new applications for the bio-active extracts derived from their sake-brewing techniques. Jumping on this unique opportunity, Ho and his team invited them to Singapore to meet local companies in the personal care and food industry. IPI also invited the Japanese SME for a lecture at the Biopolis to introduce their biotechnology to local research organisations and universities, in a bid to facilitate deeper collaborations.
Ho managed to generate buzz within the local ecosystem by tailoring his innovation expertise to the specific goal of the Japanese company, and encourage a greater understanding of the sake industry—an experience, among many others at IPI, that helped lead to his success of setting up the open innovation programme at Clariant.
Making waves to create oceans
Shane Wong’s current role, as Assistant Vice President of business development at major food manufacturer and distributor QAF Group, involves building new business opportunities for the company, a task that he believes his time at IPI helped prepare him for. “IPI gave me a broader perspective and a firmer grasp on the industry trends and needs in Singapore,” he said.
Wong credits his ability to identify or create uncontested spaces or “blue oceans” in the competitive market of food manufacturing to the analytical skills, experience in evaluating technologies and business acumen that were all developed and honed at IPI.
During IPI’s first Food Pavilion at its 2017 TechInnovation event for example, Wong and his team were able to showcase the role technology plays in food cultivation, preparation and preservation, as well as how Singapore can be a part of the region’s growing food landscape.
“I was fascinated by how tech is playing an ever-bigger role in the way food is being cultivated, prepared, preserved and eaten,” said Wong. “If you would like to be at the forefront of new trends in the tech world, dabble with different kinds of technology and experience what it is like to straddle the tech and business worlds, IPI is a great place to be!”
Agreeing that being excited about new technologies is a key ingredient for a successful career in open innovation, Wong highlighted how an enduring interest in innovation has helped him through everyday difficulties. “Beyond having a strong technical or business background, it is passion that will keep you afloat because there will be a lot of hiccups before any success story,” he said.
If you have a passion for technology and want to be a part of Singapore’s innovation ecosystem, click here to find out more about how you can build an exciting career at IPI.