15 Aug 2017

Tapping Into The Global Innovation Marketplace


Brokering international partnerships with IPI
IPI Singapore is a gateway to global innovations, helping local and regional enterprises tap on technological solutions for future growth.


It is one thing to be an inventor and quite another to be an entrepreneur. Dr. Sze Tiam Lin, senior director of the IPI, found this out back in 1997 when he developed a short-message-service (SMS) smart queue messaging system. While applying for a patent for his invention, Sze had an epiphany.

“I remember asking the patent agent how to commercialise this system and he was unable to assist me. This made me aware of a lack of expertise in realising the commercial value of patented products or services,” said Sze.

Motivated by this incident, Sze became interested in the commercialisation of technology. He has since developed deep expertise in industry-research collaboration and intellectual property (IP) commercialisation, making him a perfect match for his position at IPI.

Cultivating connections

Incidentally, finding perfect matches is the mission of IPI, which was established in 2011 under the Ministry of Trade and Industry to bridge the gap between enterprise and innovation. As an independent non-profit organisation, IPI offers its partners a broad and objective view on industry requirements and available technological offerings. Cultivating connections Market-ready innovations that address specific industry pain points might already exist, but because of imperfect knowledge, technology seekers and providers may not have crossed paths. This is where IPI offers great value to its partners by being a centralised hub for entrepreneurs and inventors to reach out to one another and collaborate.

Market-ready innovations that address specific industry pain points might already exist, but because of imperfect knowledge, technology seekers and providers may not have crossed paths. This is where IPI offers great value to its partners by being a centralised hub for entrepreneurs and inventors to reach out to one another and collaborate.

For example, at IPI’s online marketplace, business owners can list their technological requirements and browse technology offers put up by IPI’s innovation partners. Should companies require customised solutions, IPI also provides one-to-one company engagement, where its technical experts from diverse scientific backgrounds assess the business need before sourcing for relevant solutions.

By fostering a culture of open innovation, Sze would like to see more companies building upon their own IPs through collaboration with external innovation partners. Alternatively, they can in-license new IPs to strengthen their IP portfolio to develop differentiated products and services.

“For example, a technology partnership introduced by IPI allowed Wangi Industrial, a local small and medium enterprise (SME), to develop its own IP in protective nanotechnology-based diamond-like-carbon coating for glass. This background IP became a basis for further research projects that continued to improve and differentiate the product, which means it now has a combination of various IPs protecting it, making it much more defensible,” he shared.

Should entrepreneurs and innovators prefer a personal touch in establishing collaborations, they can do so at IPI’s flagship TechInnovation event which returns for the sixth consecutive year at the Marina Bay Sands Singapore from 19 to 20 September 2017.

“TechInnovation is Asia’s premier industry-technology matching event,” said Sze. “By bringing technology seekers and providers under one roof, we enable enterprises to access a global pool of enabling technologies to develop competitive and innovative products and services.”


Gateway to the global marketplace

Recognising that technological transfer is no longer limited by geographical boundaries, IPI has established itself as a well-connected hub that fosters close ties with innovation centers the world over.

Since April 2016, IPI, together with Innovation and Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, has been part of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the world’s largest innovation and business support network. The EEN provides access to over 600 partners and millions of innovative SMEs from across 28 EU countries and over 30 non-EU countries.

“Given that Asia is an emerging growth area with an open market, there is also interest from European SMEs seeking collaboration opportunities in Singapore and the region,” Sze said.

Each of these innovation nodes in turn has its own networks, creating a multiplier effect that widens the reach of the enterprises that IPI supports, he continued.


Change is a constant

But reaching out to the world does not mean losing touch with the home turf. Going forward, Sze said that IPI will support Singapore’s government agencies in the seeding of innovation clusters.

“One of the focus areas would be to align with Singapore’s industry transformation maps, particularly in the areas of food manufacturing and logistics,” added Sze. “We will also be supporting SPRING’s Gov-PACT programme to crowdsource collaboration partners that will work with various government organisations to develop and test-bed innovations.”

“Companies that fail to innovate will risk becoming obsolete and irrelevant as the needs of society constantly change,” he said.

“IPI will continue to proactively reach out to our enterprises, as well as global sources of innovation, to assess and source for relevant enabling technologies that will meet our enterprises’ innovation and business needs.”

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