Globalization, Change and Policy in Asia and Europe
Edited by Charles Edquist and Leif Hommen
3. From technology adopter to innovator: Singapore Poh Kam Wong and Annette Singh 1 INTRODUCTION As a newly industrialized nation, Singapore has been very successful in developing its technological capability in the past 40 years since political independence. This success has been based on evolving a national system of innovation (NSI) that emphasized attracting and leveraging global multinational corporations (MNCs) to transfer increasingly advanced technological operations to Singapore, and developing infrastructure and human resources to absorb and exploit new technologies rapidly. In the last decade or so, however, the country has started to shift towards a more balanced approach, with increasing emphasis on developing indigenous research and development (R&D) and innovation capability. While the government has acted as a ‘developmental state’ in guiding science and technology (S&T) capability development as an integral part of Singapore’s overall economic development strategy, the emergence of a more vibrant technology-entrepreneurial community is likely to be critical to Singapore’s continuing transition from technology adopter to innovator. 2 MAIN HISTORICAL TRENDS Among developing economies, Singapore has achieved one of the most impressive economic growth records in the last four decades since its political independence in 1965, averaging 7 per cent GDP growth per annum over the 1960–2005 period (Table 3.1). Despite an economic slowdown in 2001–3 (with a strong recovery in 2004), Singapore’s per capita GDP of US$29 111 in 2005 (measured as purchasing power parities (PPP)) is still the third-highest in Asia, at about 70 per cent of the US...
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