Since olden times, S’pore Inc. has been saying that it wants to do product innovation. As the latest initiatives* giving yet more incentives for product innovation seem to indicate, the focus on product innovation seems to have not worked. Time for government to “move on”?
Maybe we shld talk to Apple?
Apple … focuses only on product innovation, not scientific invention. “Apple does research insofar as it advances their laser-focused product aspirations,” observes Michael Hawley, a computer scientist who worked for Mr. Jobs at NeXT, a pioneering but commercially unsuccessful computer company.
It seems that one “secret” is the emphasis on being user friendly i.e. taking heed of how people do things, and what they enjoy doing.
At Apple, the emphasis is not on the basic science of traditional research but on the “behavioral science” of the user experience, explained a former Apple manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he still had ties to the company.
Next, it has technical experts who constantly scout new commercial technologies, he said; they work with suppliers, often co-inventing down to the chip level. Then prototypes and initial products are produced, with constant refinements.
The authoritarian PAP will love the next “secret”, this but are our PM, the two DPMs, the hubby of “Peanuts” Goh, the other SM, and his dad up to what is expected of them? They have a combined age of around 68, when I think the average age of people is nearer 45.
They are shown not to focus groups or to other outsiders, but only to Mr. Jobs and his lieutenants. For example, three iPhone prototypes were completed over the course of a year. The first two were tossed out, the third passed muster, and the product shipped in June 2007, the former manager said.
“That is the rocket science — the product,” he said.
Apple is contrasted with IBM. I.B.M. has laboratories around the world, spends $6 billion a year on research and development, and generates more patents a year than any other company. Five I.B.M. scientists have won Nobel prizes; the company’s researchers attend scientific conferences, publish papers and have made fundamental advances in computing, materials science and mathematics.
The sad thing is that while we are no Apple, we are no IBM.
Bottom line: Government policy has resulted in us being neither fish or fowl.
2010 Budget commits “$450 million over five years to start a Public-Private Co-Innovation Partnership for Government agencies to work with private sector companies in co-developing innovative solutions for medium- to long-term needs, in areas such as urban mobility, environmental sustainability and energy security … Key Government agencies will share their technology roadmaps and future needs publicly, and provide grants to help companies test-bed innovative solutions to meet these needs.” Small start-ups will not be excluded.
And in allocating funds for biotech and other fields, more emphasis will be given for commercialising projects.
Update om 10th December 2010: Effect on researchers of govmin’s change of policy on R&D funding.