Romancing Technopreneurship

Dr Chua Eng Hwa and Practice Professor KC Chan

This article is based on the second doctorate degree of Dr Chua Eng Hwa, CEO of FA Systems Automation (S) Pte Ltd, who conducted a contemporary action research on building a pragmatic technopreneurship model to nurture and develop a pipeline of competent managers, effective leaders, and ultimately savvy entrepreneurs who need to transform into technopreneurs in Industry 4.0


This article is divided into six sections- awareness: what is technopreneurship in the real world of VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) economy; alignment: why technopreneurship is of vital importance in Industry 4.0 where automation couple with artificial intelligence eliminate 40% of routine work; action: how to build a paradigm shift (the way we think and work) to fit into the VUCA and Industry 4.0 business environment bombarded by the 13 forces of globalization; adoption: when to nurture and develop a pipeline of world-class technopreneurs using the process and tools of technopreneurship; assurance: how to ensure that the investments in cultivating technopreneurship is worthy of purpose and to beat the competition; envisage risks and barriers to change.

Engender awareness

Technopreneur is a person. Technopreneurship is a process. After the demise of Steve Jobs, Apple is ever stronger and more competitive than before. This is because the spirit of a technopreneur (Steve Jobs) has permeated the whole organization – technopreneurship. Technopreneurship is a multiplying process of nurturing and developing an adequate pipeline of whole-brain managers who are transformed from being a competent manager to an effective leader, and ultimately to a technopreneur. These thinking human capital – whole-brained managers are measured by their ability to integrate, implement, innovate, and improve continuously to beat the competition – see Figure 1.

Ensure Alignment

Industry 4.0 is technology-driven and put every company on the same starting point of a racing track. Also, from the 13 forces of globalization, three prime forces – technology, cost and customisation have the highest impact on a developed nation like Singapore with no natural resources, except human capital. The development of future competence must be related to enriching skills set in holistic thinking for ability to integrate, systems thinking for ability to implement, critical thinking for ability to innovate, and lateral thinking to connect holistic-systems-critical competence to improve continuously based on six different perspectives to stay relevant and achieve sustainable competitive edge. It is easier for an engineer to understand what is holistic thinking for effective planning, a project manager to understand systems thinking for effective control, a leader to understand critical thinking for effective decision making, and a strategist to understand lateral thinking for effective empathy analysis to commit on the right strategic direction. However, to strive and thrive in the VUCA economy in Industry 4.0 under the turbulent and brutal forces of globalization, the future of smart technology belongs to organization that are lead by whole-brain – thinking human capital.

Enable Action

How to build a paradigm shift (the way we think and work) to fit into the VUCA and Industry 4.0 business environment impacted by the 13 forces of globalization requires immediate project-based action learning to accelerate the expert power of transforming competent manager into leader, and team leader into technopreneur. Heuristically, not everyone can be nurtured and developed into a technopreneur. What is more important is the spirit of technopreneurship to inculcate a sense of belonging (values) and process ownership (mission) to do their best for the company regardless of their management position or seniority in the management hierarchy. Passion comes from the heart; professionalism from the whole-brain (holistic, systems, critical, and lateral thinking). Based on the principle of the 80/20 rule, only 20% of the employees are achievers and 20% of these achievers have the DNA to become authentic technopreneur – 4%. A pragmatic shift from a traditional SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) mentally to a world-class enterprise is to expose their employees to different size and complexity of projects. Criteria are set for lightweight, medium-weight, and heavy-weight projects that are cross-functional, cross-organizational, and cross-culturally. Only the fittest will survive phenomenon is applicable for those who can manage heavy-weight projects because it demands the trilogy of management, leadership and technopreneurship competencies – see Table 1.

Encourage adoption

When to nurture and develop a pipeline of world-class technopreneurs using the process and tools of technopreneurship will have to pass through five stages of transition change management to reach maturity level – see Figure 2. Communications strategy play a vital role to get “buy-in” from the negative stakeholders who are resistant to change. Thus, it is wise to engage positive stakeholders to volunteer as key change agents for change acceleration programme. This is also another way to test and evaluate the leadership quality of these group of potential leaders to be transformed into technopreneurs. The degree of passion between a good leader and a savvy technopreneur is difficult to measure base on profiling tools. Project-based action learning and sharing by observing the contribution and attitude of the team leader - project manager provides an effective barometer and assessment of the speed of trust that can be empowered to the team leader who has the potential to be groomed into a technopreneur. The accelerated learning equation that is deployed, viz.

Enforce assurance

How to ensure that the investments made in cultivating technopreneurship in a SME is worthy of purpose and to beat the competition? The technopreneurship balanced scorecard is one of a better solution – see Figure 3. Anything that is not measurable is difficult to manage or control. The S-I-O model is a pragmatic tool. It begins with the technopreneur who craft a coherent strategy that can be successfully implemented by converting the strategy into a portfolio of prioritised programs and projects. To enhance the execution capability of an organisation, it is essential to adopt project management as a common language for work. The business result of revenue growth, profitability and liquidity depends on each departmental manager for operational excellence to attain cost, quality, speed, flexibility, and reliable delivery promise – the customer order winning factors. To be sure, the employees learning and growth to enhance their competence, continuous innovation of the internal business processes to remain relevant and lean, meeting stakeholder expectations (internally and externally), attaining sustainable financial performance to attract continuous shareholder investments and at the same time minimization of risk using a closed-loop monitor and control system to assure shareholders that the investment on nurturing and developing an adequate supply of thinking human capital with the ultimatum to increase the quality and quantity of competent manager, effective leader, and savvy technopreneur is – a norm, not an option.

Envisage risks and barriers to change

Resistance to change resulting in increasing risk and creating barriers to change is inherent in all organizations big (MNE) or small (SME). To overcome organisational politics it is necessary to plan for risk response strategy to prevent a company from “shooting its own feet” by ignoring internal as well as external politics. There are four kinds of risk – market/commercial risk, financial/currency exchange risk, country/political risk, and cross-cultural/ diversity risk. It is crucial to recognise that risk is an uncertain event and can have positive (opportunity) or negative (threat) outcome when it occurs. Without the right risk response strategy, risk can snowball into an insurmountable crisis, which is impossible to do damage control, leading to the collapse of a SME or MNE.


There are only 11 books written on technopreneurship. The latest addition is “Technopreneurship in Industry 4.0” co-authored by Dr Chua Eng Hwa and Prof KC Chan. It is available as e-book at If the reader prefers to have hard copies, they can visit to place their orders. The final implication from the action research leave us with the axiom – indulge in technopreneurship or face the final curtain of extinction. From the words of Tim Cook – it is alright that machines with artificial intelligence can think like human beings; it will be disastrous if human beings will think like machines. Technopreneurship is the process to inculcate the spirit of a technopreneur (s) in us with the passion to achieve breakthrough results. For 21st century progress, the next generation of technopreneurs will be very different from the current ones. Old wine in new bottle does not work anymore!


Dr. Chua Eng Hwa is the Chief Advisor of Global Wholistic Organization and an Elder to Global University of Lifelong Learning as part of his social entrepreneurship. He holds three doctorate degrees, two masters degrees, published two books and numerous articles in the field of management, leadership and technopreneurship.

In the commercial world, Dr. Chua is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of FA Systems Automation (S) Pte Ltd since its inception in 1988. Though he started FASA from scratch, with an initial capital of a few tens of thousands of dollars, the company has grown, glow and globalize into a world-class enterprise as an original design manufacturer holding over 10 international patents to become an original brand manufacturer for 300 machines.

K C Chan is the President of TWAN Pte Ltd and an advisor to Pradita Institute of Science and Technology. He holds MSc (Industrial Engineering) and BSc (Production Management) degrees from the Cranfield University (England), an MBA (Strategic Management) and PhD (International Business) from the University of Strathclyde (Scotland). He also holds three doctorate degrees in project-based action learning. He is visiting professor to five leading universities in Asia. He has published 7 books, i.e. strategic project management, agile leadership, technopreneurship, design thinking in enterprise risk management, and disruptive thinking for Olympic innovation. He has also published over 100 articles in international journals and business magazines.