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Singapore's Prime Minister shares his Smart Nation vision with the world

Zafar Anjum | April 26, 2015
Not just a Smart City, but a Smart Nation, declares PM Lee Hsien Loong

As a successful example, he cited the startup district in Singapore called the Launchpad that brings together the government, the start-ups, the venture capitalists and the talent.  "Launchpad has been described as the world’s densest startup ecosystem," he said.  "We have government support and schemes to help the start-ups. At the beginning, grants were chasing projects, from the point of view of the grant-giver, this is a very worrying thing.  Today, the projects are chasing the grants, and I feel much better.  Launchpad is almost full, with startups, incubators and VCs (Venture Capitalists).  We have some  home-grown successes like Zopim, Razer, Carousell and Viki, and more youths participating in hackathons."

"Another important ingredient for building a Smart Nation is talent," he said. "We have talent, in the wide sense.  There are lots of Singaporeans in the Silicon Valley, but we need more of them back home here in Singapore.  And we have to attract the best and the most dynamic people – Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans – to come to tackle ambitious projects, and to start up their companies here."

He also wants to get more bright students to be excited by engineering and IT, and to aspire to become engineers and computer scientists, and not just bankers, lawyers and doctors.  "This is quite a difficult job," he acknowledged. " The Government is leading the way.  We are upgrading our engineering and IT schemes, we are reorganising the way we work, trying to accommodate into a very big and structured organisation, small pieces which are chaotic in a constructive way. We are starting up skunkworks and data teams to work on interesting problems.  We may not provide massages like Google, or Michelin star chefs like Dropbox, but we can certainly offer challenges that are as exciting, and the wherewithal to make important things happen.  I believe this sense of challenge will bring more young people onboard.   So this is what a Smart Nation means to us."

"The Government will muster the resources, build the infrastructure, create schemes, and encourage companies and people to chase their dreams," he said in conclusion. "But we need you, we need the companies and the people to step forward, to spark the bright ideas, to make progress on the challenges, and to change the world."  


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