On May 14 on the 21st floor of the Keppel Tower in the Singapore Business Federation section, The Innovators Institute (TII) group launched its very first cross-industry business innovation platform called The Innovators Network.

This open platform helps creatives from different industries gather and share ideas with each other in three-fold sections. There’s the Future-Tense section, which has domain experts share their two cents on the industry’s future; the Dream-Weaver section that acts as a pitching session for a new techie; and the Smart-Trail, where successful innovators share their stories in a fireside chat-like environment.

The inaugural launch for the network featured a number of intriguing panels. Highlights were Red Dot Ventures‘ Managing Director Leslie Loh talking about the importance of being innovative in managing businesses, an Innovaters Showcase featuring drone-manufacturing company Infinium Robotics and cloud-based Software-as-a-Service wholesale-centric outlet Tradegecko.

It even had e27’s very own Co-founder Mohan Belani talking about the top game-changing technologies Singapore enterprises should adopt. The top five ones he explained in detail include new interfaces, Big Data, 3D printing, crowdsourcing and vertical cloud computing. To quote from his talk, “The one that’s easiest to implement [for big businesses] in theory is new interfaces, because that just requires a mindset shift in design. At the end of the day, people understand user experiences. The one that obviously is the easiest to do but hardest to implement would be Big Data, because that requires a complete mindset change in the way organisations think about business decisions in the long-term.”

Creator and TII Founder Charlie Ang told e27 that the network was created because he believed that there’s a gap in terms of people understanding innovation in the country. “The government spreads this idea in its own way, while startups do it with their own methods. I asked myself if there is a way to convey the message in a wider way to Singapore enterprises and companies based here. Through this network, we want to drive that mindset change no matter what the profession is.”

Ang, who gave a talk at the launch about understanding the most powerful technological shifts in major businesses, said that this Network was not modelled after any existing sessions or ideas. “This idea is actually working backwards, because from where I started as an innovation evangelist, I looked at the future and I looked at the competitive advantages. From there, I figured out how to get Singaporeans to adopt that innovation skills. Singaporeans are good at being operators; you give them a rulebook, they can be efficient at that. But moving forward, the rulebook always gets re-written, thanks to (technological) disruptions. With this, we have the chance to be the rulebook writers and make hell break loose.”


The panel discussion titled “Productivity and Beyond” was about the benefits of using innovation to drive traditional business growth forward

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The Network was created with a macro and micro business points of view and to help Singaporean businesses upgrade to an innovator’s mindset . “The macro is talking about the economic system. It’s moving from an efficient-based model to an innovative-based one. This is a platform to help encourage dialogue,” he added.

One of the things he brought up in his talk was that innovators are the game-changers, but they are a small minority. “When you mix that with the other operators, who have the tendency to say ‘no’ to any risk-taking, their power is greatly diffused. Nobody understood what Albert Einstein was talking about back then, but eventually he was heralded as one of the greatest innovators in the world. If you bring the innovators all together, their creative power magnifies,” stated Ang.

He added that because the way Singaporeans do business now, they need to keep up with how other countries infuse different methods in handling companies. “Local companies need to take a look at tech disruption, since we came from that space. We asked ourselves: ‘How can we help 99 per cent of the mainstream companies do so?’ Multinational corporations aren’t that common in Singapore, and startups are even less.

“We need that 99 per cent to embrace this innovative way of thinking. They still have the trader’s mindset since long ago. The good companies are the ones that build, and we want to encourage others to have that mindset to create new technologies and great products,” said Ang.

The Network has 21 partners and organisations in support. Apart from the aforementioned ones that participated in panels, these include 8titude Design Lab, Kazoo Communications, and Kairos Society. “We are an open platform. Different industries have their own innovator’s community, but they are not connected. A lot of their sharing is valuable for one another. In a way, industries are converging. Let us plug this open platform in different organisations with different professions,” said Ang.

The partners and organizations helping out The Innovators Network.

The partners and organisations helping out The Innovators Network

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He brought up designing as one such profession, specifically the Design Business Chamber of Singapore (DBCS). “(People in similar groups like the DBCS) are quite ahead in terms of creativity, be it fashion designers, event planners and architects. You want to have minds that can design a building that works around certain constraints. HR professionals should be part of this dialogue. Different bodies bring in their own kind of community. The power is in the network.”

Going forward, The Innovators Network will continue to help Singapore firms understand the shift in business mindsets through various regular sessions like the aforementioned inauguration, albeit in a more casual and outdoor manner. “Our organisers will provide different places for our future sessions; innovation comes from looking and being in different locations, environments and experiences. In terms of how this network will form, we hope to become a national movement,” said Ang.

Its next session will be in July. Interested parties who wish to go beyond their scope of thinking should head to the official website for the updates.

Disclaimer: e27 is one of the partners of The Innovators Network