Opening Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law, Guest of Honour for IP Week @ SG 2020

 

Ladies and gentlemen

1. Good afternoon, and welcome to the ninth edition of IP Week @ SG.

2. COVID-19 has disrupted the way we work, the way we interact with each other and the way we live, all in unprecedented ways. The impact is wide and the effect will be long-lasting.

3. As countries and cities shut down, people engage in social distancing, technology has become essential in all aspects of our lives. In business, it enables us to work from home and find innovative ways to reach existing and potential customers. Education is also able to continue with online learning. Social interaction is also preserved although we are physically apart. And importantly, technological innovations help control the spread of the infection and aid in the search for a cure.

4. We can expect new innovations to emerge more swiftly and with greater intensity to help businesses and communities define and adapt to a “new normal”.

5. The work of IP offices around the world in enabling and protecting new creations is even more important now.

6. IP is also a bright spot for international cooperation and collaboration at a time of increasing protectionism.

7. IPOS’ role has become more important in this environment. As an agency with deep expertise in IP and a strong international network, including with the World Intellectual Property Organization, or “WIPO”, IPOS has been working closely with countries in the region as well as further afield to enable smoother, faster IP protection globally. Singapore is well-placed to build on this to be a centre of excellence for IP and intangible assets.

8. In the spirit of innovating to meet these challenging times, IP Week has adapted its presentation this year to more closely connect with our global audience.

9. For the first time, IP Week goes fully digital, featuring a suite of live, complimentary webinars.

10. We will be engaging in lively discussions with over 5,000 delegates, business owners and industry partners, on harnessing IP and intangible assets to navigate and also thrive in this pandemic.

How IP Helped Local Companies Capitalise On Business Opportunities For Public Benefit During The COVID-19 Pandemic

11. COVID-19 has spurred many companies to relook their strategies and pivot their businesses.

12. As they develop and execute new strategies, it is crucial that they manage and harness IP effectively to innovate, survive and flourish, sustainably.

13. This year, we recognise and celebrate enterprises that have leveraged IP well in the fight against COVID-19, in a special edition of the IP Awards – the IPOS Innovation for Humanity Award.

14. These recipients have demonstrated great resilience in transforming their businesses with IP, for both enterprise growth and social impact.

15. Lucence Diagnostics

a. Lucence Diagnostics is one recipient, and a stellar example.

b. Lucence is a precision oncology company that develops blood tests to detect cancer quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively.

c. When COVID-19 struck, they moved swiftly to launch a new product, the SAFER™ Sample saliva specimen collection kit.

d. The kit allows healthcare professionals to collect saliva samples accurately, safely and conveniently for further testing.

e. It also makes testing possible at previously inaccessible areas, expanding the reach of healthcare.

f. Lucence Diagnostics was able to bring this life-saving technology to market quickly because they relied on IP – both their partner’s and their own.

(i) The technology behind the SAFER™ Sample saliva specimen collection kit was developed by A*STAR.

(ii) Lucence Diagnostics licensed the IP in the technology from A*STAR.

(iii) They then used their expertise and know-how built up from developing their own blood tests to effectively commercialise the technology.

(iv) By leveraging IP, Lucence Diagnostics was able to benefit the community in a time of need.

(v) The kit is currently under evaluation in Singapore hospitals, and is commercially available in Hong Kong.

16. Spic & Span

a. Spic & Span is another outstanding recipient that has leveraged their IP for growth and public benefit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

b. They are a cleaning solutions company that developed Speco®, a durable disinfectant solution that protects work environments from harmful microbes.

c. To fight the pandemic, Spic & Span reformulated Speco® to be effective against coronaviruses.

d. They were able to expand their market presence quickly and also confidently with the reformulated Speco®, based on a robust IP strategy developed even before the crisis.

e. The IP strategy guided Spic & Span on protection of key intangible assets, and the licensing options suited to their business.

f. Speco® has been used on more than 1 million square feet of property, including many of Singapore’s important sites such as Changi Airport.

17. Lucence Diagnostics and Spic & Span are successful examples of companies that have captured opportunities and created strong economic and social impact through IP during this challenging time.

18. We would like to help more companies do the same.

Helping More Enterprises Capture Opportunities Through IP During The COVID-19 Pandemic

19. Concrete initiatives to empower companies in capturing opportunities through IP are already in place, with more on the way.

a. We are accelerating those in the pipeline to support companies through the pandemic.

20. We want to upskill enterprises’ IP capabilities and help businesses obtain quicker and easier IP protection.

a. Let me share some of these initiatives.

21. First, we have launched the Growing with Resilience through InTangibles, or “GRIT”, initiative.

a. The Government will partner with different community sectors to help enterprises better manage and monetise their IP in the COVID-19 economy and beyond.

b. This support will include industry-specific resources and tools, including a webinar series.

c. Our first webinar focuses on IP in the Arts and Entertainment Sectors, which will premiere at IP Week.

(i) The pandemic has accelerated digitalisation, moved many businesses online, and sparked changes in their operating models that are critical for their survival.

(ii) Enterprises will increasingly face IP issues in the digital space, which can be foreign to many who are moving online for the first time.

(iii) To support these enterprises, speakers from the Government and our creative industry, as well as IP practitioners, will share insights on how businesses can effectively navigate these issues.

d. More webinars featuring different sectors will be held in the coming months, spanning tourism to education and more.

22. Second, we pioneered the Workforce for IP-Savvy Enterprises, or “WISE”, programme in April this year.

a. WISE is a partnership between IPOS and the Singapore Business Federation to help Singapore enterprises identify new business opportunities and build new capabilities through IP.

b. It builds on the Framework for IP launched last year to institutionalise IP skillsets and management practices.

c. We currently have seven local companies participating in the pilot. They hail from diverse industries across the manufacturing, info-communications, and education sectors.

d. And we welcome more companies to participate in this programme.

23. Third, IPOS GO, a mobile app for trade mark applications, will be enhanced with new features.

a. The need for social distancing has disrupted IP services worldwide, including in Singapore.

b. IPOS’ digital services have minimised the disruption in Singapore, but we are continuing to make the digital experience of obtaining IP protection smoother and quicker.   

c. IPOS GO was the world’s first mobile app for trade mark applications when it was launched in August 2019. The app has since attracted over 3,500 downloads, with more than 500 trade mark applications made through it.

d. A new feature will be introduced to enable enterprises to easily look for similar business names, trade marks, domain names and social media account names – all within a single search.

e. The app’s renewal features will also be extended to patents and registered designs.

f. The enhancements will help enterprises make more informed branding decisions and enable fuss-free maintenance of all registered IP in one mobile platform.

24. Fourth, we will launch the SG IP FAST programme.

a. To help enterprises obtain patent protection more quickly, Singapore is party to several international patent acceleration initiatives, and have also established some of our own.

b. However, patents are only one aspect of IP protection.

c. We want to enable enterprises to swiftly obtain protection for other types of IP as well.

d. To do so, we will be launching SG IP FAST. This extends beyond patents, to also accelerate the registration processes for trade marks and registered designs.

e. Enterprises can secure IP protection in Singapore fast and leverage that to grow their business with confidence.

Together, We Can Drive Greater Economic Growth And Societal Impact Through IP

25. As we help businesses weather the COVID-19 crisis, we also recognise the need to make long-term investments to support enterprises in the post COVID-19 era.

26. There is an ongoing whole-of-government effort, to partner with our stakeholders, to further develop Singapore’s capabilities in IP management, and help companies better manage opportunities through IP.

27. We will build on our IP Hub Master Plan and its update.

28. We will develop Singapore’s IP strategy to position our nation as a base for ideas, intangible assets and IP from anywhere in the world, from which to access markets in other parts of the world.

29. This will support domestic enterprise growth, attract foreign direct investment, and create more well-paying jobs.

30. We are working closely with key stakeholders to co-create and co-deliver these initiatives.

31. Some initiatives have already been launched and others will be rolled out soon.

32. So let me just share a few.

33. IP valuation and disclosure.

a. IPOS is partnering with SGX on the Intangible Disclosure Evaluation and Audit Scheme,  or “IDEAS”, to help companies identify and communicate the business value of their key intangible assets.

b. Beyond disclosure, an inter-agency effort is underway to enhance and formalise intangible asset valuation standards to facilitate monetisation.

34. Young IP mediator.

a. IPOS will also be working with aspiring and fresh law graduates on a Young IP Mediator initiative to build up IP mediation experience amongst our youth.

b. By building local capabilities in this area, we hope to attract more disputes for mediation into Singapore.

35. We will continue working with key stakeholders to co-develop national capabilities on IP management.

36. More details will be shared next year.

Conclusion

37. These are challenging and unusual times.

38. That so many of us continue to gather for IP Week is itself a testament to the importance of managing IP well, particularly in these circumstances.

39. Singapore is committed to maintaining its robust and forward-looking IP regime to build a centre for intangible assets management.

40. We look forward to continuing our close partnership with our partners at home and abroad, to empower businesses and communities in harnessing their IP for both enterprise growth and societal impact.

41. Thank you very much.