Opening Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance & Education, Guest of Honour for IP Week @ SG 2018

Your Excellency Ambassador Flávio S. Damico, Ambassador of Brazil to Singapore,

Mr Zakariya Hamed Al Saadi, Consul-General of the Sultanate of Oman in Singapore,

Mr Yoshiyuki Takagi, Assistant Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization,

Dr Stanley Lai, Chairman, IPOS

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


1.     A very good morning and welcome to IP Week. It gives me great pleasure to be here today.

2.     I understand that close to 300 enterprises are here with us. Let me then start by introducing one of our local enterprises, Structo.

3.     Structo was founded in 2014 by a group of Engineering graduates from the National University of Singapore. They saw an opportunity for 3D printing in the dental field. Using their expertise in engineering, software and material science, they developed groundbreaking equipment for dental labs and clinics. Structo now has the world’s fastest dental model 3D printer. It can print faster and cheaper than existing equipment whilst at the same time maintaining high quality. They have also come up with the world’s first desktop 3D printer with integrated post-processing features. 3D printing has not caught on in dental clinics to replace chairside milling systems because of the need for separate equipment for 3D printing, cleaning, drying and curing the dental products. All these processes are now performed in the Structo Velox at the touch of a button. Today, Structo’s products can be found worldwide, in markets as far as the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia.

4.     Structo’s innovation journey is a reflection of this year’s IP Week theme, “Ideas to Assets: Connecting Markets through IP”. It builds upon the recommendations made by the Committee on the Future Economy to strengthen Singapore’s innovation ecosystem and help enterprises scale up, thereby enabling them to succeed both at home and abroad.

Innovation and Intangible Assets are Increasingly Important in the Global Economy.

5.     More than a decade ago, the world’s 10 largest companies included the likes of General Electric, Exxonmobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. Their success was founded on physical assets such as factories and oil fields.

6.     Today, the story is a sharp contrast. Most of the top 10 companies in the world by stock market value are technology companies - Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft, to name just a few.

7.     These companies have one thing in common. They are heavy on intangible assets, and light on physical assets. Their inventions and technology, product designs, customer relationships, database, software, and branding are pivotal to their businesses. They have grown exponentially and maintained their competitive edge by relentlessly innovating, and bringing their creativity and ideas to the market.

8.     For these companies, the value of intangible assets accounts for an increasingly large portion of their company value. Globally, the enterprise value of intangible assets is now more than half of the world’s total GDP, and has more than doubled since the turn of the century.[1] This shift towards intangible assets is evident in Singapore too. A 2016 study of 900 local companies found that more than one-third of their assets were intangibles, up from 20% in 2010.[2]

Asia is at the Forefront of Innovative Activities. Singapore Can be a Hub to Connect Markets through IP.

9.     Intangible assets arise from innovation, which is now accelerating in Asia. Asian companies now invest four times more in R&D as compared to a decade ago, a much greater increase compared to the US and Europe.[3]

10.     6 in 10 IP applications since 2016 has been made in Asia.[4]

11.     To support the focus on innovation, Singapore has strengthened its connectivity to international markets to help innovative enterprises expand internationally.Beyond the extensive network of free trade agreements[5] that we have in place, including the recent Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP), companies here also enjoy accelerated protection of their inventions globally. This is made possible through cooperation with more than 70 trading partners on initiatives such as accelerated patent prosecution and work-sharing arrangements like the Global Patent Prosecution Highway programme and the ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation programme. Important IP services such as IP management and advisory, IP training, and patent search services can also be found here.

12.     Innovative enterprises seeking to be part of the Asian growth story will benefit from what Singapore has to offer. The Siam Cement Group, or SCG, with over 1,800 R&D staff based “in and out” of Thailand is one such example. SCG Chemicals Co. Ltd. will ink an agreement with IPOS during IP Week. The collaboration enables the Group to enjoy a suite of high quality IP services in Singapore, including capability building, patent search services, and IP management and strategy advice. These services will support the Group’s continued growth and innovative activities, especially in Asia. This is just a start. We welcome more enterprises to come to Singapore and partner us in their innovation journey.

We Need to Future-Ready our Enterprises for an Increasingly Intangible Asset-Driven Economy.

13.    Innovation is disruptive. But it will also create new opportunities and consumption patterns. We need to focus on helping our enterprises to innovate continually, to build and maintain their competitive edge. We have in place various schemes for our local businesses to tap on.

14.     First, innovative enterprises can tap on grants for Enterprise Development and Market Readiness offered by Enterprise Singapore to internationalise and build new capabilities. Further, as announced at Budget this year, enterprises can now obtain greater tax breaks[6] for registering new IP rights and licensing payments for commercial use of IP.

15.     Second, companies may also engage the services of IP ValueLab (IPVL), a subsidiary of IPOS. IPVL offers IP strategy and management advisory services to help companies use their IP and intangible assets for business growth.

16.     One company that has benefited from IPVL’s help is Endomaster, a promising medtech start-up for robotic-assisted surgical systems. Endomaster’s robot can remove cancerous tumours from a patient’s stomach and intestines without open surgery, thus reducing the risk of complications that may arise with invasive procedures and hefty medical bills that come with long hospital stays. With IPVL’s help, Endomaster has developed a cost-effective intangible asset strategy to strengthen its competitive advantage and increase its Return on Investment. Endomaster has over 20 patents in its global patent portfolio and has just raised close to US$15 million in a series B funding round. It counts Hoya Group as one of its investors.

17.     Third, we recognise that IP litigation has become more rampant and complex. Prohibitive litigation cost has always been a cause for concern amongst enterprises looking to enforce their IP rights. This is particularly so for enterprises seeking to expand into the global market. IPOS has been working with industry partners to raise awareness of IP litigation insurance as a means of defraying costs. I am pleased to announce that IPOS will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyd’s Asia later today, with the purpose of jointly promoting IP insurance as a strategic tool to help innovative enterprises manage and mitigate IP litigation expenses. In this initial phase, Lloyd’s Asia will be reaching out to 100 innovative companies. We welcome more insurance partners to come on board.

18.     Next, we want to recognise enterprises that have achieved outstanding growth through innovation, transformation and IP commercialisation. We have our WIPO-IPOS IP Awards.

19.     Amongst the winners today is home-grown company K-One Industries, which was founded 20 years ago. K-One provides environmentally-friendly packaging solutions. K-One patented their invention of a flat, eco-friendly contact lens packaging and subsequently sold it to the biggest Japanese contact lens producer. K-One’s latest invention is an eco-mobile dishwasher, which features state-of-the-art technology that cuts water and electricity usage by 50 percent while washing twice the number of dishes. With a strong IP strategy for this invention, K-One has been able to secure deals from reputable F&B chains in overseas markets such as China.

20.     The WIPO-IPOS IP Awards this year is a testament to the importance of growing the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. The youngest award recipients are not even 16 years of age. The IP industry is growing, and opportunities abound. It is befitting to look at how we can prepare people, including our young ones, to take advantage of this.

We Need to Future-Ready our Manpower, and Prepare them to Take On Higher Value Jobs in the Future Economy.

21.     To strengthen our IP-rich industries, we should continue to grow Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths expertise, which we have traditionally been good at. It is just as important that we develop complementary capabilities in the areas of IP management and commercialisation. These jobs pay well, and are resilient. Jobs in industries with above-average use of IP command a salary premium of almost 30 percent, compared to jobs in other industries[7].

22.     In addition to traditional IP jobs that we know of today, there are exciting new roles requiring new IP skillsets. We have built a strong support structure for people who wish to join the IP industry but may find the transition challenging.

23.      Perhaps the story of Janelle Tan from FT Consulting will inspire you. Janelle has made the switch from the fashion industry to a career in IP. In order to deepen her skills in IP and innovation management, she joined the first cohort of the Master in IP and Innovation Management programme jointly launched last year by the Singapore University of Social Sciences and IP Academy. As the programme is anchored in real-world application, Janelle has found that she is able to apply these insights at work right away. It also helps that the course fees are subsidised by the IP Professional Conversion Programme (IP-PCP), a joint initiative of Workforce Singapore (WSG) and IPOS. This programme is available for individuals who wish to make a career switch to a growing IP industry.

24.     For existing professionals who wish to upgrade their skills, there is the SkillsFuture Study Award for the IP sector, launched by IPOS and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) earlier this year. The IP Academy (IPA) offers numerous executive training courses for professionals who prefer more flexible learning. I am pleased to announce that IPA will be launching a new Specialist Certificate in Intangible Asset Management that is supported by the SkillsFuture Study Awards. This is an 8-month part-time programme for professionals keen to enter the IP industry or to learn more about the business value of intangible assets. In support of lifelong learning, IPA will also be collaborating with NUS’ School of Continuing And Lifelong Education (SCALE) to develop a joint professional certification in IP and innovation, and other continuing learning programmes for local enterprises. SSG, WSG and IPOS are also working with employers, industry associations, education and training providers and the unions to develop the Skills Framework for IP to be launched next year. This aims to promote skills mastery in emerging areas of IP. This framework will provide useful information on the sector, career pathways, occupations and job roles, and skills needed as well as relevant training programmes.

25.     Beyond IP management, an increasingly innovation-driven economy also presents opportunities in areas such as the valuation and financing of intangible assets. As a financial hub, Singapore is well placed to work with our international and local partners to better monetise and finance intangible assets. For a start, IPOS and the Singapore Accountancy Commission are collaborating on a joint market study on the valuation of intangible assets. This will help us develop a framework that enterprises can use to maximise the value of their intangible assets.


26.     In the future economy, IP rights play an important role as an essential and strategic tool for business growth, helping our companies protect their innovations and bring their products and services to the global market. Foreign enterprises can also make use of Singapore as a trusted base for the translation of their ideas and IP into products and services.

27.     With the wealth of experience and knowledge amongst all the attendants here, I believe we all can look forward to insightful discussions and lively exchanges as we explore cutting edge topics during this IP Week. So with that, let me wish all of you a fruitful and rewarding time at this conference. Thank you.

[1] Brand Finance, Global Intangible Finance Tracker 2017.

[2] IMF staff calculations for 2018 Article IV Consultation.

[3] Article in Nikkei Asian Review, “Asian companies drive rapid growth in global R&D budgets”, 4 May 2018.

[4] World Intellectual Property Organization data.

[5] There are 12 FTAs that Singapore is party to, in force, and has an IP Chapter. Additionally, the CPTPP and EUSFTA are FTAs that Singapore is party to and has an IP Chapter, but they are not yet in force.

[6] From YA2019 to YA2025:

  • Tax deduction for the first $100,000 of qualifying IP registration costs will be increased from 100% to 200%.
  • Tax deduction for the first $100,000 of qualifying IP in-licensing costs (e.g. payment made to publicly funded research performers or other businesses) will be increased from 100% to 200%.

[7] Study commissioned by IPOS.

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