Singapore’s Action Community for Entrepreneurship appoints new chairman
By Digital News Asia June 9, 2020
- Startup & innovation ecosystem gets new voice and direction with James Tan
- Covid-19 cultivating resourceful, black swan-event-resilient entrepreneurs
The Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) announces today that it has appointed James Tan as its new Chairman of the Board of Directors.
With more than 3,600 startups employing 18,000 people, more than 100 incubators, accelerators and venture builders, and 150 venture capital funds in Singapore, ACE’s scope has increased tremendously since its inception in 2003 by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
With the global recession taking grip and Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) forecasted to shrink by between 4% to 7% this year, consumer spending behavior has taken a sharp turn to a cash preservation mindset. Startups face considerably more challenges than legacy businesses in this commercial new normal.
"Covid-19 has disrupted all businesses, and for many industries, the changes will be permanent and irreversible. Businesses – GLCs, startups and SMEs alike – have to re-emerge with viable and sustainable plans to respond to a post-lockdown economy reopening in phases and peppered with unfamiliarity as the economy searches for a steady-state,” says Tan.
“This is an opportune time for ACE to re-validate and expand the role it was set up for – to support the startup ecosystem in their journey to become viable business going concerns. In this difficult period for startups, ACE provided ground-up support through public webinars and private matching activities such as the Covid-19 Seminar Series and Meet-The-VC Sessions,” added Tan, who is confident that most startups will recover and the community will emerge stronger than before.
ACE has been working closely with community stakeholders, especially government agencies, innovation enablers, and startups, to drive entrepreneurship and innovation in Singapore and beyond aggressively. ACE also helps to facilitate disbursement of government grants such as the Startup SG Founder grant and the Global Talent Ready (GRT) grant, which saw a surge in inquiries during this pandemic.
“The digital transformation momentum from Covid-19 provides an impetus for the Singapore economy to become ‘The Innovation Island’,” challenges Tan who has set this as his vision for Singapore.
“Every crisis presents its opportunities. Covid-19 is cultivating a generation of resourceful, black swan-event-smart, and resilient Singapore entrepreneurs. Their collective experience and war stories will mold them into future leaders in our innovation ecosystem. We believe that such market-operating nous coupled with dexterous operating mindsets, raises the entrepreneur quotient of the Singapore business world. The outcome is a much more permanent systematic impact,” he stresses.
Prior to his appointment as chairman, Tan served on the Board as the deputy chairman from 2016 to 2020, and as a member of the Board from 2011 to 2016. Tan replaces Dr Mark Hon, who has completed his term as chairman. Hon, who will be appointed chairman emeritus, laid the groundwork to develop ACE into the international leading startup and innovation ecosystem developer it is today.
ACE was established in 2003 by the Ministry of Trade & Industry, and became a private sector-led organisation in 2014. Its current patron is Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Trade & Industry who welcomed Tan as the incoming ACE chairman.
“With his many years of experience on the ACE Board of Directors, I am confident that James will build on these efforts to further strengthen the local startup community and help more startups achieve sustainable growth. Together, we can help our startups emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient,” said Koh.