The Singapore Government is “growing” innovation and entrepreneurship by spending S$40 million as seed funding for venture-capital. The fund, known as Early Stage Venture Fund (ESVF-III), is administered by National Research Foundation (NRF).
However the NRF has recently in July this year, singled out by the Auditor-General for serious lapses in their administration of grants. Three schemes under NRF worth S$301.2 million in end-2013 were found to have serious lapses in disbursement of grants. It remains to be seen if NRF will waste this S$40 million new seed funding.
Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Project, Vivian Balakrishnan claimed that the seed funding will create an “ecosystem” where Singapore local companies can become Multi-National Companies (MNCs):
“NRF will be launching ESVF-III to catalyse the establishment of corporate venture funds by large local enterprises (LLEs) … and to catalyse the growth of high-tech innovative companies through government co-investments with private-sector LLEs. this will facilitate the development of tech ecosystems in which smaller companies grow around a core of LLEs, enabling the LLEs to access new technologies through their startups, and so remain competitive; the startups, on their part, will be able to leverage the organisational resources of their corporate partners to commercialise and go global.”
Unfortunately for Vivian Balakrishnan, the death of innovation and entrepreneurship in Singapore is not due to the absence of seed funding. The problem with Singapore is best described by Steve Wozniak in 2011, who said that creativity and entrepreneurship cannot be developed in a place where “bad behavior is not tolerated” and people are not taught to think for themselves.
“Look at structured societies like Singapore where bad behavior is not tolerated [and] you are extremely punished… though many (Singapore) people are educated with well-paid jobs and nice cars, “creative elements” in society seem to have disappeared.”