Singapore has created a multi-agency programming approach to business events involving government agencies, industry associations, event owners and content generators.

The island city-state, which is a banking and finance hub of south-east Asia, has adopted a ‘create, attract, grow’ approach to supporting business events across key industries.

Such an approach has helped the former colonial trading post to identify significant gaps in the business events market – and then to populate them.

A number of business events have now evolved into a series of ‘weeks’, featuring industry leaders, exhibitors, buyers and consumers – with multiple ‘hooks’ to sustain growing communities in specialist sectors.

One such business event, Singapore Design Week, has evolved over the last three years from 74,000 visitors to 81,000, with goals to connect design talents & business, champion thought leadership in design, and to create a platform to experience design beyond aesthetics.

Jeannie Lim, Executive Director – Conventions, Meetings and Incentive Travel at Singapore Tourism Borad, explained the approach at the Business Events Leaders’ Summit at Glasgow’s SEC in March.

“When we look at all the different economic sectors, we then distil it down to say, ‘okay, where are the opportunities and where are the gaps from a business events perspective,” she said. “So, we then pulled out the seven industry sectors you see and within that we looked at subsets where there are events that would make sense, where there are areas where we see ourselves as a knowledge hub. So, we see tourism not just as a means in itself but as a means to an end in terms of achieving all the outcomes we want for these various industries,” she added.

She said: “And so our strategy is very much around creating, attracting or growing. So, how we look at it, if there’s no events currently in that space, how can we look at creating one?”

Singapore Design Council – the national agency for design – is the lead agency for Singapore Design Week, which takes place in March, supported by Jeannie’s team, which helps with programming, marketing and bringing other event owners together who might want to co-locate under the week’s ‘banner’.

The cooperation has led to the development of a programme which includes activities for the public and children, a business-to-business trade show and thought leadership forums.

“It’s on a growth trajectory that we’re very pleased with,” added Lim, who said also that Singapore has a focus on using business events to develop seven key industries: Asian and Global Financial Services, Transport, Manufacturing, Applied Health Sciences, Smart & Sustainable Urban Solutions, Lifestyle and Innovation & Technology.

Singapore’s series of business events ‘weeks’ across the calendar include Smart Nation Innovations Week (June), Tourism Technology Asia (July) and the Singapore Air Show (February).

Martin Sirk, Chief Executive of ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association), described Singapore as a pioneer of business events and economic development at #BELS18.

He said: “They were the very first bureau to actually design a marketing strategy around intellectual capital and economic development. They actually had executives who were allocated to the key inward investment segments of Singpaore and so they knew the government ministers, they knew where the sources of funding were, they knew the CEOs of the companies that were the start-ups, they knew the professors. So, when they were bidding for events, they were telling an entirely different story from all the other destinations in Asia Pacific and they were for years way ahead of the crowd.”