The argument for a National Innovation Institute

Further to my last blog post on a need for a National Ministry of Innovation, I’d like to expand on this further as I’m presently here in Singapore and feel this is even more topical.

Always Singapore provides you with a positive impression when it comes to development. It is a country that consistently experiments and explores its options to grow its economy. Innovation is within this mix but I still think it should be more central, visible and coordinated to extract that little ‘extra juice’ often needed today.

Visiting Singapore on this trip I’ve been examining where innovation ‘fits’, and there are plenty of examples of experimentation backed up by investment seed money, but for me, innovation still lacks a certain coherency and consistency of purpose within policy. I feel with the changing nature of innovation and its increasing value creation aspect it does need to be given a greater sense of attention, so further investments can build innovation deeper into the fabric of society. A national innovation body can bring this coherency of purpose that Singapore strives for.

I have championed for a number of years this need for a clearer National Innovation Strategy to deepen and support all the different activities needed to be ‘housed’ within Singapore. It is at this national level you achieve a greater match between supply-side inputs and the demand side by understanding the roles played by all the parties. You can’t afford any form of hands-off approach today; you need a strong strategic focus on the roles and policies for the delivery of that innovative society that is needed to compete effectively in today’s world.

A national innovation policy structure can go well beyond a conventional set of prescriptions. Where? It can provide for a greater intensity in:

  • Channelling R&D into specific technology and industry challenges.
  • Clarifying what is around the world that is missing that needs to be brought into Singapore in nascent technologies etc, so as to support what has already been drawn in, thus anchoring the value of what is produced in Singapore.
  • A national policy allows for more comprehensive ‘roadmaps’ in key industries and research to be understood and the gaps narrowed.
  • The more focused funding of sector-based industry-university-government research partnerships that met this National innovation policy.
  • You achieve a more robust approach to clustering that has a broader regional need.
  • You create deeper knowledge to the methods, processes, approaches and techniques needed for innovation.
  • You add further impetus to where private sectors needs to adopt and where public sector needs to support.
  • You speed up the rate of knowledge transfer between the players with a more coordinated agenda.
  • A national policy gives fresh emphasis on the tax code to spur innovation and where to invest and can help to shape future trade policy in its championing.
  • Lastly you develop clearer ways to measure often those elusive innovation metrics that provide the justification on return on investments by the parties involved.

For me a National Innovation agenda, driven by a clearly identified body, helps in driving national and global solutions through coordinating innovation. It builds up the ongoing knowledge of innovation in its evolving process and allows for greater monitoring, peer review and the build up of good policy practices that stimulate the growth within the economy.

I’d just like to see innovation having this greater recognition of its role for society within Singapore. Having innovation as more central in policy decisions, recognised and seen would add further momentum to all the present good work invested in innovation activity. It connects and strengthens the dots that are already established. I still think it’s the way forward for providing Singapore an even more competitive edge .

2 thoughts on “The argument for a National Innovation Institute

  1. Hi Paul,

    Nice post! As a citizen of Singapore, I think that National Innovation Policy will help us in the way that you have described in your post. At the same time, I also think that the stakeholders like the business owners, companies, and public agencies need to buy-in this national innovation policy, if there is one.

    It will not be easy as the word “innovation” means different thing to different people. Perhaps, Innovation consultants can start by differentiating between innovation and invention. Do we need R&D for innovation? I think R&D is meant for invention rather than innovation. What do you think?


    • Firstly Roan you have to differentiate between the two. Invention derives from ideas or from research but innovation is the added on eliment, the commercialization of the idea/ concept / or research.

      A quote that I like is ‘Innovation happens when you figure out how to make money from an invention’ (attributed to dr Crawford, ex AT&T).

      Buy-in is dependent on the value seem from this, knowing the place and reason for your contribution and this comes from a greater connection of the different parties.

      You are right the word Innovation can mean different things to different people, it is the ability to give it the appropriate context or meaning so the activity to produce the innovation happens- then potential confusion can be reduced. A well defined strategy / policy / objective or challenge is one of those uniting points needed.

      Thanks fro your comments


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.