Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have a significant role in Singapore’s economy. With their dominant contribution to Singapore’s already robust export performance – with up to 37 percent of the country’s total exports number, MSMEs in Singapore have contributed up to 49 percent of their total gross domestic product (GDP).
Enterprise Singapore: Addressing global challenges for MSMEs
The current shift in global economy has driven the MSMEs to find a way to stay competitive by transforming, innovating, and scaling up their businesses. The government plays a big role in providing support to enhance the competitiveness of its MSMEs.
With these conditions in mind, the Government of Singapore established Enterprise Singapore, formerly International Enterprise and SPRING Singapore, as the agency championing enterprise development on 1 April this year. This agency provides a comprehensive range of support to the MSMEs, such as access to financing, business capabilities and management, and market advisory, with the purpose of enhancing innovation and internationalisation of the MSMEs. This agency also supports the growth of Singapore as a hub for global trading and startups. As the national standards and accreditation body, Enterprise Singapore builds trust in Singapore’s products and services through quality and standards.
Innovation Holds the Key to the Future of MSMEs
Realising the importance of innovation for the competitiveness of the MSMEs in Singapore, Enterprise Singapore runs two initiatives called Centres of Innovation (COI) and PACT programme. COI provides support for the MSMEs that are keen to adopt technology or innovate. Currently, there are eight Centres of Innovation (COIs) that provide resources ranging from laboratory facilities to consultancy and training courses in which the MSMEs can receive assistance in developing and testing technology. These centres are established in partnership with selected polytechnics and research institutes, and each centre is a one-stop point that specialises in a specific industry. The industries that are covered by these eight COIs are electronics, supply chain management, environment and water, food, marine and offshore, materials, and precision engineering.
PACT aims to promote partnership and collaboration among enterprises to drive capability upgrading, innovation and business development. Under PACT, lead enterprises collaborate with other MSMEs in projects related to capability development and joint business development. Capability development projects focus on areas such as supplier upgrading, co-innovation, and knowledge transfer; while joint business development projects include the formation of business alliances or consortiums and projects related to shared resources. MSMEs that are involved in this programme could benefit from the guidance and transfer of knowledge from partnered enterprises so that they can strengthen their innovation capabilities.
The Future-Ready MSMEs
Soo Kee Group: 3D printing gives customers more peace of mind when buying diamonds
Buying a diamond is a huge commitment – customers traditionally have to base their decisions on a 2D sketch from jewellers before seeing the real thing. Soo Kee has cut out all the doubt – by being able to show customers a 3D-printed model of their design, they have not only sped up the process of prototyping, but are now also able to pay greater attention to the quality of their pieces.
Seeing is believing when it comes to investing in something as valuable as a diamond. The need to visualise the 4Cs – carat, colour, cut and clarity – and feel the precious stone first-hand is a key part of the buying decision. Yet, a common practice by jewellers is to provide a two-dimensional graphical sketch using computer-aided or hand drawings based on customers’ requirements a few weeks before the first prototype is ready. If subsequent design changes are required, the process can take even longer.
Soo Kee Group takes the ‘miss’ out of this hit-and-miss process by providing customers with a three dimensional (3D) model of their design using their own 3D printers. A process that used to take three weeks now just takes three days. The quicker turnaround enabled the company to produce up to eight times more designs and pay greater attention to the quality of prototypes.
As a result, Soo Kee, which sells its products through its line of retail outlets, such as SK Jewellery and bridal jewellery brand Love & Co, has seen an improved conversion rate of such sales by 10 per cent. Customers are far more likely to buy after viewing the 3D model, as opposed to a 2D sketch.
Developed with funding support from SPRING Singapore (now Enterprise Singapore), the 3D printing technology has helped Soo Kee enter into a new business segment: corporate firms who desire bespoke items to be given out to their customers or staff on special occasions.
Innovation does not stop there. To better reach out to potential customers and draw them into their stores, Soo Kee has adopted a ‘click-to-brick’ strategy that fuses their online and physical retail platforms into one seamless experience. The company is also working to optimise its website so that customers are able to make an informed decision before coming to the store for the actual purchase.
 National sources (2017)