Philips seeks votes for healthy ideas

Philips p project
How can companies know what innovations will improve people's lives? Ask them. Image: Philips Electronics

Global electronics firm Philips has launched the Singapore edition of a regional project that will ask the public to vote for one of five ideas that will improve their quality of life.

For the next eight weeks, Philips will run an online survey to get Singaporeans voting for these ideas - ranging from breastfeeding programmes to national picnics -  which they feel will contribute to a healthier, happier urban population.

Called the ‘+’ Project, the campaign is aimed at helping Philips achieve its mission of improving the lives of three billion people by 2025.

“We can only do that if the innovations we provide are relevant. To succeed, we need to engage community partners and learn from the public. We need to ask people, ‘What can we do to improve your quality of life?’” said Philips Asean Pacific chief executive Harjit Gill at the project’s launchthis week.

Philips has committed to developing the winning idea once it is announced in December and will invest up to US$50,000 to get it started.

The five competing options, which were developed with input from community partners such as Angeline Wee-Yew, vice president of the Singapore Breastfeeding Mothers Support Group:

  • National Picnic Days featuring celebrity chefs and fitness activities;
  • Parenting workshops to develop skills and reduce family stress;
  • Healthier schools programmes for improved learning environments;
  • Community training in CPR and emergency response equipment; and
  • Mothers’ corners that provide advice and comfortable spaces for breastfeeding.

For two weeks of the campaign, members of the public can also help refine the ideas by searching for #SGPlus on the Twitter social media platform and adding their comments to the conversation.

Singapore is the third location for the ‘+’ Project, following similar campaigns launched in Indonesia and Thailand in the past year.

“We were blown away by the responses in Thailand and Indonesia,” said Philips Asean Pacific head of marketing Arent Jan Hesselink after the launch. The Thai and Indonesian people generated more than 1,000 ideas across three categories – healthy living, liveable cities and accessible access to healthcare.

Unlike in Singapore, where the vote results in one winning idea out of five previously chosen solutions, the Thailand and Indonesia campaigns featured one winning solution from each category. For example, Indonesian voters chose an early breast cancer detection solution in the healthcare category, eco-friendly bus stops in the liveable cities category, and a school nutrition project for the healthy living category.

Mr Hesselink noted that Philips had taken a unique approachfor each country. After discussions with Singapore project partners, they decided it would be good to zoom in on health and well-beingin order to create projects that would make a real difference and drive community engagement, he added.

One focus was on the ageing population and ways to get elderly folk more active in the community. This is also a priority that has preoccupied the city-state’s government, which faces a silver tsunami in the next few decades as the number of senior citizens  increases.

Chairman of the People’s Association Active Ageing Council, Dr Tan Yong Seng, said that the Philips project was a good fit with the objective of the Active Ageing Council, which is to promote activities that help improve the quality of life for seniors by keeping them fit and preventing social isolation.

He added that seniors risk being left out if they do not move forward together with the rest of society.

The government predicts that by 2025, more than 20 per cent of the population will be aged 65 years and above. By 2050, the age group will make up nearly a third of the population, prompting concerns about the strain on the healthcare system, the burden on supporting families andthe lower earning power for the overall population.

The project’s other ideas address the increasingly stressful and sedentary Singaporean lifestyle, disproportionately high numbers of children with impaired vision and the pressures of raising healthy families ina busy society.

Philips Ms Gill said that improving the quality of life in Singapore required first listening to the challenges before teaming up with community partners to bring the right solutions to market.

“Only by driving innovation this way can we really change things and arrive at what we call ‘meaningful innovations’,” she added.


This story was sponsored by Philips Lighting. To cast your vote, go to

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