PINNING down the elusive magic formula for successful entrepreneurship kept a range of experts, from business people to politicians, engaged during a recent discussion.

Collaboration, innovation and education were the key buzz words that gained traction at the event at the National University of Singapore (NUS), which was attended by about 150 people on Wednesday last week.

Associate Professor Hum Sin Hoon, deputy dean of NUS Business School, referred to the lessons a leader could draw from the Chinese explorer Zheng He and the collaborative efforts he made on his voyages.

The benefits of thinking outside the box were highlighted by Ms Susan Chong, chief executive of Greenpac Singapore, a green packaging company.

She underlined the constant need for companies and employees to innovate, citing the example of Apple as a company that owed its success to the strength of its innovative approaches.

A different tack was taken by Mr Quek Ling Kiong, associate conductor of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

He emphasised the value of art in education, noting that art could be an alternative means of reaching out to people.

Mr Quek referred to the work he did with autistic youth by using Chinese drums as a way to get their attention.

The Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mr Chan Chun Sing, spoke of the leadership the Government requires in balancing the pressures of the 'here and now' with the concerns of the future.

Mr Chan told the event, a collaboration between the NUS Business School and the professionals, managers, executives and technicians division of the People's Association: 'Paradoxically, the more we focus on the present and neglect to set the foundations for the future, the more fires we have to fight going forward.

'This is the difference between politicians and political leaders.

'If we are all just politicians, then we will always look at the here and now.

'But if we are leaders in our own right, then we not only have to settle the here and now, but also have a sight on the future and the next generation,' said Mr Chan.