, Singapore

Why Singapore’s $10m Corporate Launchpad Programme isn’t just for the big guns

By Eric Chin

Singapore has always been a country with big ideas.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) is looking to continue this trend with its $10m Corporate Launchpad Programme, which will give large Singapore-based companies the impetus to explore innovative growth areas they may not have considered before.

This program aims to provide large and established Singapore-based companies the opportunity to act like risk-taking startups rather than monoliths of predictable progress—giving them the ability to set up new ventures or innovate in existing ones. The program serves as a launchpad for companies to explore new business ideas and disruptive innovation.

How the Corporate Launchpad Programme works 

Headed by EDB New Ventures, the venture-building arm of EDB, eligible firms will work in concert with selected venture studios that specialise in corporate innovation and venture development. Up to half of a firm's concept validation sprint will be funded by EDB New Ventures. The EDB predicts that there are hundreds of eligible companies. Whilst only time will tell which ones will make the most of this opportunity, they expect to support up to 20 multinational corporations and large local enterprises based in Singapore.

The program aims to transform ideas into investable business plans within a short amount of time with guidance from established venture-building techniques centring around concept validation sprints. The goal is for companies to understand what customers and stakeholders want from their product or service, providing data they can use in the future. 

Lumbering giants can be nimble

This concept validation sprint approach is very different from the usual service and product development techniques used by large companies. It promises to be a breath of fresh air for their innovation capabilities.

Innovation is key to any country's continued development, and Singapore enjoys a robust infrastructure that allows its entrepreneurs the opportunity to reach new heights. With government support and the proper insight, large corporations, usually shackled by short-term shareholder expectations, will be able to forge new paths.

This Corporate Launchpad Programme should allow Singapore's large companies to innovate safely and strategically whilst simultaneously giving its SMEs the chance to look at what their larger counterparts are doing and iterate on which ideas have the most potential.

It’s not just for the big guns

This leads me to mention how the Corporate Launchpad Programme is not just a handout for the big guns, leaving little for smaller and leaner operators to innovate. I would argue that this is another example of the Singapore Government going above and beyond to create opportunities for small ideas to scale up to world-leading companies.

Innovation is what drives healthy economies. It creates new jobs and spurs economic growth in towns and cities across the country. The EDB has been vocal about its commitment to helping firms innovate for more than a decade. This program is a continuation of that momentum.

I believe that this Corporate Launchpad Programme also provides an excellent opportunity for Singapore's many small and medium enterprises (SMEs). These ideas do not happen in a vacuum, so smaller firms will be able to piggyback off these new validation sprints by bleeding out best practices and innovative ideas through a network effect.

It won't happen overnight, of course, but this should enable more SMEs to shine outside of the shadow of more prominent names and make them more visible internationally, creating opportunities for them to scale up their businesses and bring more jobs to Singapore. It should also help pollinate the larger Singapore startup ecosystem, stimulating growth beyond the tall towers of The City.

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing which firms will come out on top as part of this exciting program and how it will help them drive innovation in our ever-changing economic environment. I am sure there are some big but nimble ideas within Singapore’s sleepy corporate giants; I guess we'll have to wait and see what comes out of this $10m program.

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