Michael Goh, Chief Operating Officer at IPI encourages startups and SMEs to embrace transformation and work with trusted partners like IPI to spring ahead of the competition.


The phrase ‘volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity’, or VUCA for short, has become a commonly heard term that encompasses the challenges companies face in an ever-changing business environment. To keep up with VUCA and remain ahead, companies must avoid traditional and outdated approaches to management, leadership and day-to-day working.

In the face of challenging economic situations, Michael Goh, Chief Operating Officer at IPI, suggests SMEs take advantage of innovation to better prepare themselves so as be in stronger position to face-off the stormy seas and also be prepared to ride the wave by embracing transformation, where possible, and work with trusted partners.

To pivot towards new opportunities and see growth in the coming years, SMEs should leverage innovation and technology to give itself an edge over competition. This journey is not without challenges, but with the help of IPI, its global innovation network and committed team of multi-disciplinary staff, SMEs can better navigate these choppy waters.


Breaking new ground

As an innovation catalyst, IPI is dedicated to creating opportunities for enterprises and helping them along their journey of growth, transformation and success. IPI has put in place a slew of services that will support enterprises in their innovation journey. IPI is an advocate of open innovation and has been creating opportunities for enterprises to come together to collaborate and co-create so as to leverage each other's strengths to accelerate their innovation and growth.  

Regular events that are part of IPI's TechInnovation Connect and Discover series, like the recent green building technology showcase, and the carbon footprint management panel, bring together leaders and innovators from different companies within an industry to network and explore opportunities to work together and address new opportunities.

IPI's Technology Scouting service service seeks out best fit-technology or expertise from its extensive, well-established global innovation network, and connects enterprises to technology owners so that both parties can come together and translate the technology into solutions. Pioneer Environmental Technology, a local SME, which benefitted from IPI's Technology Scouting service was able to secure a partnership with Solvay, a Belgian chemical MNC through IPI, for technology involving the treatment and reuse of industrial wastewater.

SMEs looking to access MNCs can tap into IPI’s Open Innovation Calls where IPI works with large corporates to feature their problem statements. SMEs may consider leveraging these calls by putting up proposals to address the problem statements. When selected, they gain access to these MNCs and become part of the latter's innovation solution to address global markets. At the Built Environment Accelerate to Market Programme, jointly supported by IPI, the Building and Construction Authority and EnterpriseSG, Operva AI answered China Construction’s challenge with their drone technology. The two companies, both looking to improve the construction process with drones, were a perfect fit and have since implemented a web app that automates some inspection processes.


A partner along the way

In uncertain times, it is particularly important for companies to have a finger on the pulse of new trends and markets that can be tapped into. However, for many SMEs which are pivoting or divesting to new markets, it can be difficult to know where to start without the right experience. IPI's Innovation Advisors Programme (IAP) can offer guidance to the SMEs on how to bring their innovation and product into a new market. IPI's Innovation Advisors (IAs) can help companies map their go-to-market strategy as well as offer insights on how to navigate the nuances of entering a new business sector.

For local start-up SinFooTech, the decision to engage the help of IPI's IA Dr Ong Mei Horng allowed the company to further develop Sachi, an eco-friendly alcohol beverage made from soy whey. Dr Ong provided valuable advice on extending the product's shelf life, connected the team with industry experts, and shared insights into fermentation, filtration, and the brewing industry, ultimately contributing to the company's mission of creating a cleaner, greener future.

IPI’s IAs come with a wealth of experience to offer in technology and innovation. Depending on the existing challenge an SME is facing, or an identified opportunity, IPI will match SMEs up with an IA to offer guidance and work with them through their transformation journey.

IAs, like Wong Hong Wai, have valuable advice to give and are passionate about guiding small companies to success. Wong has spent 35 years driving change and growth across the transportation and automotive industry both locally and internationally. He began his career with the Singapore Economic Development Board, working to develop local businesses, and remains motivated to facilitate growth and success.


Forging ahead with tech trends

With the support of IPI's various programmes, companies can deftly harness the latest trends to access new opportunities. To keep themselves updated, enterprises may subscribe to IPI's weekly newsletter, where IPI's pool of Innovation & Technology managers will feature relevant technologies that are available for adoption from IPI's global innovation network.

IPI's annual flagship technology brokerage event, TechInnovation, set for 31 October to 2 November this year, gathers leaders, professionals and innovators and will feature three key trends —sustainability, health and well-being, as well as AI in healthcare. At the event, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from industry leaders, market analysts and panels led by experts on what are upcoming trends, what is emerging in the horizon, business opportunities, and how can one leverage innovation to better position one's company for sustained growth. Technology owners from IPI's global network will be showcasing a wide spectrum of technologies that are available for adoption.

Through IPI's programmes and support, SMEs can adapt to this increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world without fear and grasp every opportunity available to them for steady and rapid growth.

IPI stands committed to walk with clients in their innovation journey and look forward to value-adding to businesses' growth beyond boundaries.