Singapore’s creative economy is in full bloom

This year’s Innovation by Design conference – organised by the DesignSingapore Council – attracted a diverse line up of international creatives. From left, fashion accessories designer Beatrix Ong; Low Cheaw Hwei, head of design at Philips ASEAN Pacific; Patrick Chia, director of the Design Incubation Centre; and Ernesto Quinteros, chief design officer at Johnson & Johnson; Mauro Porcini, chief design officer at PepsiCo; Ford Motor Co chief designer Chelsia Lau; architect André Fu, founder of AFSO; and Daan Roosegaarde, artist and founder of Studio Roosegaarde. Photography: Jovian Lim

During the past five decades, the Lion City has built a strong reputation as a global business and tourism hub, attracting an ever more discerning and cosmopolitan community of global travellers who seek to immerse themselves in different cultures and build deeper connections with each visit.

Singapore has worked hard to develop a reputation for infrastructure, safety, stability, connectedness and accessibility. It is no wonder it has been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Design, or as Ernesto Quinteros, chief design officer at Johnson & Johnson likes to call it, ‘a hybrid-vigour epicentre’ for a global talent pool of designers, architects, thinkers, engineers and entrepreneurs, and ‘an East-meets-West intersection of design and technology, fashion and tradition’.

‘Singapore is like entering a parallel dimension, totally projected into the future, conceived and produced by the imagination, the spirit of innovation and the creativity of its people,’ Mauro Porcini, PepsiCo’s chief design officer, told Wallpaper* during Singapore Design Week’s Innovation by Design conference. ‘In the streets of Singapore nature dances with architecture and architecture challenges the laws of nature, creating jazz for your eyes, food for your mind and inspiration for your soul.’

Even more visual music and eye candy is currently under construction at Jewel, a S$1.7bn ten-level development at Changi airport that, when completed in 2019, will feature an ambitious mix of mall, check-in, hotel and transit facilities, complete with a five-storey-high garden and a 40m waterfall.

Jewel is the work of Israel-born architect Moshe Safdie, best known in Singapore for creating the country’s most striking silhouette, the triptych towers of the Marina Bay Sands casino resort. ‘Singapore is probably at the forefront, worldwide, of publicly-initiated urban design, and also in massive and ambitious landscaping of the urban environment,’ says Safdie. ‘I believe this is an extraordinary collective achievement, a massive undertaking which has had a tremendous effect on the lives of its people.’

The enterprising, persevering hybrid vigour spirit is articulated in a new Singapore Tourism Board tagline, ‘Passion Made Possible’, intended to market Singapore on the global stage for both tourism and business. A collaboration between the Singapore Tourism Board, Economic Development Board and the Ministry of Communications and Information, the agencies’ first joint brand is a bold move to showcase Singapore’s unique attitude and mindset.

‘With “Passion Made Possible”, STB is presenting a brand that can tell a fuller Singapore story beyond just tourism,’ explains Lionel Yeo, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board. Designed to build a deeper and more personal connection with Singapore’s millions of visitors, and to serve as a unifying brand for Singapore on the international front, the ‘Passion Made Possible’ brand is aimed at ‘sophisticated tourists who are seeking more aspirational value propositions in their travel’.

‘Singapore is making the shift from being primarily an investment-driven economy to one that will be led by innovation,’ says Dr Beh Swan Gin, chairman of Singapore’s Economic Development Board. ‘Singapore and Singaporeans are where we are today because we pushed the limits of what’s possible, and did not allow constraints to hold us back.’

The October issue of Wallpaper* – our landmark 21st birthday edition – includes a Singapore Revealed special supplement, bringing the island city state’s ‘Passion Made Possible’ philosophy alive via a profiles, products and destinations. Edited by Wallpaper* contributor Daven Wu, the project channels the zeitgeist to explore the personalities, activity and industry generated by Art Stage Singapore, the Singapore Biennale and Singapore Design Week – all now well-established events on the calendar.

We discovered that the island’s creative community incorporating into their work issues of ecology, aged care, education and public housing, as well as breaking new ground in new construction techniques. ‘Most intriguingly, from coast to coast, the buzzword we kept coming up against was “innovation”,’ writes Wu. ‘Not innovation for its own sake, but rather innovation in terms of business and design. Remarkably, for a country that’s barely 700 sq km, it looks as if Singapore is showing us all the way.’

[“Source-wallpaper”]

India’s creative economy needs creative solutions

A vice-like grip of regulators and regulations governs the creativity of the private television industry in India. Photo: Mint

A vice-like grip of regulators and regulations governs the creativity of the private television industry in India. Photo: Mint

Sometimes you don’t need to look under rocks to find the objectionable.

The auction for T20 cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL) broadcast rights, across geographies and media, has amplified the asymmetry in regulatory frameworks operating in the creative economy. The entire issue should also help triangulate a policy conversation between competition law, intellectual property rights and a sectoral regulatory/legislative narrative that has failed to comprehend the dynamics of India’s growing media and entertainment industry.

Star Group’s winning bid for IPL media rights was made via a transparent process. But the voluble protests preceding and following it have their roots in the Indian economy’s enduring legacy of cronyism and government patronage. Even if we move beyond the immediacy of the complaints and try to focus on the larger picture, the state of strife and conflict does underscore the need for regulatory reform in the creative economy. Specifically, it highlights three issues: multiplicity of regulators leading to lack of clarity on regulatory jurisdictions; need to grant supremacy to Indian Copyright Act—which governs creation, broadcasting and monetization of content—over a plethora of other laws and regulations that are stifling legitimate rights of content creators; and, finally, whether the 20th century mode of administered pricing for content produced in the private sector for sale in the open market can still work in the 21st century.

At the heart of the debate is the difference between monopoly over content and content monopoly. Monopoly over content arises when the content creator has the sole right, granted by law, to monetize the intellectual property embedded in the content for a specific period of time. Content monopoly arises when there is only one content producer in the entire industry and can hold distributors and consumers to ransom, which is clearly not the case in the India.

However, the extant regulatory framework seems to be ignoring these nuances and apprehension over content monopoly seems to have engendered systems that grant subordinate status to the Indian Copyright Act for broadcasting organizations, which is in contrast to global norms. Indeed, indications about content’s future were discernible in the IPL auctions: Facebook’s Rs3,900 crore bid for digital rights (for the Indian Subcontinent) trumped Airtel’s Rs3,280 crore and Reliance Jio’s Rs3,075.72 crore bids. Though Facebook eventually lost out to Star’s consolidated bid, the incident demonstrates how digital content is clearly the next battleground and how companies are according supremacy to content. It also brings into sharp relief the question of net neutrality and the role of gatekeepers. This then also begs the question: Is the current regulatory structure, erected to generate societal equity through mandated economic pricing, adequate and symmetrical for content delivered through cable/satellite and through digital pipelines?

The private television industry in India is of fairly recent vintage. Yet, a vice-like grip of regulators and regulations governs its creativity. The key regulatory institutions overseeing the industry are the ministry of information and broadcasting, the ministry of electronics and information technology, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, the Competition Commission of India, the department of industrial policy and promotion in the ministry for commerce and industry, the Intellectual Property Appellate Tribunal and the department of telecommunications in the ministry of communications.

Given the multiplicity of agencies, there is a wide and bewildering assortment of laws, rules and guidelines that govern this sector: Indian Copyright Act, Information Technology Act, Consumer Protection Act, Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, plus a labyrinthine web of regulations from Trai.

Historically, all attempts to establish an appropriate regulatory regime for the broadcasting and cable industry fell victim to political fragility of the 1990s, till the Centre reclassified broadcasting and cable services as telecommunication services in 2004 and appointed Trai as the designated regulator. Occasional attempts to create an independent broadcasting regulatory authority suffered pre-mature deaths due to political uncertainty.

With Trai and so many other agencies, acts, rules and guidelines at play—often at cross-purposes to each other—it is only natural that the playing field gets skewed in favour of those with unequal political bargaining power. In the sector’s infancy, the boundaries were stretched by organizations that employed musclemen and were friendly with political parties. Not all companies were born from this violent crucible, but some of the leading names in media and entertainment rose to prominence from this brutal churning. In addition, as various stakeholders have pointed out, the regulator’s lack of capacity has also led to the current regulatory distortions.

According to the KPMG India-Ficci report on Indian media and entertainment industry, 2017, Trai’s March order on inter-connect and pricing of channels may lead to a decline in revenue for broadcasters and might even result in an increased monthly outlay for many subscribers, thereby defeating the very purpose of the pricing model. Clearly, it is time to either upgrade Trai’s capacity or to even start thinking again of an independent and separate broadcasting regulator.

[“Source-livemint”]

Economy set to ‘shift down a gear’ amid political uncertainty

Brexit talks are under way

Economic growth is set to be “subdued” over the next few years amid ongoing political uncertainty and Brexit talks, a leading business group is warning.

The CBI said a slower pace of growth is expected to persist, while business investment will fall back next year.

Household spending growth is predicted to slow this year and in 2018, while wage rises will remain below inflation this year and broadly in line next year, said the CBI.

The group forecast 1.6% economic growth for 2017 and 1.4% next year.

Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general, said: “Growth should be steady, if restrained, over the next couple of years as the pace of the economy shifts down a gear.

“While the country’s exporters should emerge as a real catalyst of growth, rising inflation and stubbornly low wage growth mean that people are already starting to feel the pinch.

“Tighter purse strings mean slower household spending growth and uncertainty is likely to weigh on the minds of those making major investment decisions.

“So, after a frantic period in Westminster, this is the time for a renewed focus on the economic fundamentals of this country.

“Above all, the new Government has the opportunity to signal loudly and clearly that Britain is a great place to do business, relentlessly focusing on investing in infrastructure, innovation and skills nationwide, while delivering a sensible and competitive tax and regulatory environment.”

Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist, added that growth will be slower in the years ahead as living standards are hit by rising inflation.

[“Source-ndtv”]

When the Economy Forces You to Shift Gears

Hard economic times force even the savviest business owner to reconsider whether he or she is in the right field. When unemployment reaches record levels, people aren’t buying luxury items. Or real estate. Or organic foods. So what do you do when the business you’ve been developing falls flat in financially frustrating times?

shifting gear

Do what Chris Luna did: Switch gears. Luna was in real estate finance when things got bad, and decided to go back to school. In the meantime, he needed work. After scratching 9-to-5 work, modeling and physical labor off of his list of possibilities, he turned to his experiences. He had a lot of experience in dating, so he thought, Why not start a dating coach service?

“I had started off shy and awkward with women and learned not to be.  For men beginning that same journey, what I had learned had economic value, assuming I could communicate these lessons in a way that allowed them to be more successful. I thought that I could.”

He formed Craft of Charisma, and began offering dating and relationship coaching services in New York City.

Look Before You Dive

Luna tested out Google AdWords campaigns to see if there was a demand for dating coach services in New York City. This cost him a minimal amount, compared to what it would have cost to launch full-on into business without really knowing if the market was there. In a recession, none of us can afford to dive without looking.

Fred Vallaeys, Google AdWords Evangelist, says that online advertising can be an affordable way to dip your toes into a business idea without a time and money investment that you can’t afford. His advice:

  • Know your website numbers
  • Drive traffic
  • Monitor your brand online
  • Engage with consumers online
  • Be an expert
  • Improve your website design

Luna stresses the importance of entrepreneurs asking themselves questions before jumping into a new business or field: “Think about your next entrepreneurship venture in terms of solving a series of problems.”

He says you have to ask yourself why you want to change fields. The answer should be strong enough to motivate you when you encounter challenges (and you will). Once you’re sure making a change is right for you, ask yourself:

  • What will I sell?
  • Who will I sell it to?
  • How will I reach them?

And look to affordable resources, such as online advertising and social media, as a way to do research to find out if there’s a market for your new business idea.


Image from tommistock/Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]