Asian countries continue to rise in the world innovation rankings. In the 2017 Global Innovation Index, the top 25 included Japan, China and Hong Kong. Singapore also made the top 25 and is fast growing into an innovation powerhouse. More global organisations are setting up their corporate innovation programs in Singapore in large part due to its strategic location and innovation-friendly environment.
Singapore’s own DBS launched DAX (DBS Asia X) towards the end of 2016. With the vision of making banking easy, fast and effortless, DAX regularly hosts both staff members and startups to run hackathons and customer journey sessions. DBS also runs their own accelerator program called Hotspot, a program designed to nurture entrepreneurship in Singapore through experimentation, mentorship and training.
DBS isn’t the only bank making innovation inroads in Singapore. OCBC launched The Open Vault in early 2016 with the focus of driving ideation, prototyping and deployment of new technologies, business models and solutions. They have just wrapped up their 2017 Corporate Accelerator Program, with six startups successfully completing the program.
Unilever launched the Foundry in early 2017, with the aim to connect start-ups and innovators to explore business ideas with Unilever and their brands (all 400+ of them). Start-ups can view and respond to briefs from Unilever’s brands and also apply for business mentorship and guidance.
Changi Airport recently deployed four automated cleaning robots and plans to add another six robots to the collection in 2018. These robots can cover over 1,600 square metres per hour. This initiative is all part of a S$50million program across 5 years to drive innovation and improve customer experience at the airport. As part of this program, Changi Airport is also testing sensors at taxi stands to track queue numbers and wait times, with the end goal of improving updates to customers during peak times and informing taxi drivers when there is demand.
The first PayPal Innovation Lab outside of the United States was launched in Singapore in 2016. The Lab acts as an incubation space and encourages collaboration between employees and entrepreneurs to create new products and services. The Lab is already kicking goals by successfully designing PayPal’s Home Screen app (entirely designed in Singapore).
Procter & Gamble (P&G) is another company that has recently placed a strong focus on innovation in Singapore. Like PayPal, this is the first innovation centre for P&G that is outside of the United States. Dubbed the e-centre, P&G is investing US$100million in the digital innovation centre to drive a program partnering with startups to co-develop new solutions.
Home to one of the world’s favourite spreads (Nutella), Ferrero has launched its first innovation centre in Asia Pac. The program has been created to strengthen the Ferrero brand as an innovation leader, placing a strong focus on the areas of health and nutrition, product research, product development and consumer insights. The multidisciplinary team has been setup to engage with the Singaporean ecosystem to support the innovation process.
Visa has launched an innovation program in Singapore to drive innovation with their partners. Based in their Innovation Centre, the program has formed a multidisciplinary team to collaborate with partners for discovery and co-creation. Through this collaboration Visa is able to support partners in identifying opportunities to innovate in payments, design innovative new concepts and springboard rapid implementation and market rollout.
DHL setup a S$10 million facility in Singapore to drive their innovation program focused on logistics services. The first such facility outside of Germany, the program serves to support innovative collaboration between DHL and its partners. The research conducted as part of this program is centred around emerging trends such as the use of drones for the delivery of time-critical goods.
One of the early entrants into the Singapore Innovation scene, Mastercard Labs (launched in 2012) has delivered several digital innovations and products not just in Singapore but across other regions. More recently, Mastercard chose Singapore as the location to open its largest innovation lab. The core focus of the program is to look into new digital payment methods, while the program will also look to drive regional fintech growth by connecting the fintech ecosystem.
It is exciting to see these organisations progress their innovation journeys in Singapore. To learn more about the growth of corporate innovation in Singapore, check out the Analyse Asia podcast that recently featured Collective Campus CEO Steve Glaveski. Given that a large number of programs are still in their infancy, the main challenge will be to demonstrate success and maintain momentum.
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