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"No Singaporean Will Be Left Behind" - Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim Talks About Our Future In The Digital Economy

innovfest unbound 2017 is currently taking place at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, and there to grace the event was Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information.

During the ceremony, Dr. Ibrahim shared that the Singapore story was built on “being unbound by constraints“, and how the determination to achieve that has transformed Singapore into the “global business hub” it is now.

Following this track, Singapore developed a growth strategy that has served us well, but given that we are in a different time now, we need to “innovate and enhance [so that] no Singaporean will be left behind“.

Here, the government and private sectors have “important and complementary roles to play“, and Dr. Ibrahim shed light on the three key thrusts that will be taken on for the digital economy.

Thrust 1 – Investing In Frontier Capabilities

“The Singapore Government has never shield away from taking calculated risks in investing in the future, as evidenced in the Singapore story.”

As Dr. Yacob Ibrahim shared during his Committee of Supply speech, he believes that the “potential gains from A.I. are massive” and as such, investments on A.I and Data Science will be increased.

He also announced the establishment of AI.SG, a new programme targeted at boosting A.I. capabilities in Singapore.

The programme is driven by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, the EDB, IMDA, SGInnovate and the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS).

AI.SG has 3 functions – (i) address major challenges affecting society and industry, (ii) invest in deep capabilities to catch the wave of innovation and (iii), grow A.I. innovation and adoption amongst companies.

The 3 target sectors are healthcare – where in 3 years’ time, medical professionals can train and interact with patients in simulated emergency situations – as well as city management solutions and finance.

In addition, the NRF is collaborating with NUS, NTU, SMU and A*STAR to set up the Singapore Data Science Consortium. The Consortium will strengthen research linkages between Institutes of Higher Learning, research institutes and industries, all to promote better adoption of data science and analytics to address real-world problems.

Thrust 2 – Support Promising Enterprises

The next thrust is one that would greatly benefit Singapore-based tech-product companies.

Accreditation@IMDA, a key initiative launched in 2014, collaborates with SG Innovate and industry accelerators to provide customised assistance to high-growth startups and SMEs. The aim is to accelerate their growth, and help to internationalise them via IE Singapore and enterprise partners.

Dr. Ibrahim brings up the example of Latize, a data analytics company that has greatly benefitted from IMDA’s Accreditation, and has since won two projects in Australia.

To date, Accreditation has accredited 17 companies.

He also announced the partnerships that IMDA has formed with local banks DBS, OCBC, and UOB. Through these partnerships, Accreditation@IMDA will support the banks in driving innovation in FinTech solutions.

MOI signing with local banks DBS, OCBC and UOB

IMDA-accredited companies can also benefit by gaining access to real problem statements, opportunities to work on innovative FinTech projects within the banks, and expand into international markets via the banks’ global reach.

“As with startups, the Singapore Government will also continue to provide customised support for SMEs to seize opportunities in the digital economy.”

As mentioned during his CoS speech as well, the SME Go Digital scheme that aims to help raise SMEs’ level of “digital readiness” currently has close to 50 pre-approved digital tech solutions that SMEs could tap on.

One of these examples is a 3D Internet-Of-Things platform for Smart Buildings by Asahi Security Technologies, which helps buildings and business owners better manage and control situation via the use of 3D visualisation.

Thrust 3 – Develop A Pipeline Of Frontier Tech Talents

Lastly, none of these would work if we didn’t have a pool of talents that can execute the strategies.

“Through our engagement with the industry, we are keenly aware that a steady pipeline of quality tech talent is critical for businesses to break new frontiers in the digital economy, the grow and scale the businesses, especially as your time-to-market continues to shorten in the tech industry.”

Also mentioned at his CoS speech was IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), which has been and will be, continuing to equip the Singaporean workforce with tech skills for the digital economy.

He also emphasised the importance of being open to global talent.

Other than manpower matters, he also mentioned that other important aspects like connectivity infrastructure and a conducive regulatory environment would be enhanced to “support the innovation journey” of all enterprises.

Some initiatives to note here are Startup SG’s Founder initiative, which encourages first-time entrepreneurs to start new businesses in frontier tech areas, and SG Innovate’s BASH, a facility which aims to help build tech communities and networks.

“Events Like innovfest unbound Are Critical”

Ending off, Dr. Ibrahim reiterated the importance of events like innovfest unbound, as it is bringing together leading entrepreneurs, brands, corporates, investors, and tech startups from all over to expand their networks and showcase their ideas.

“Let [the Singapore government] be your partner-in-innovation in this journey, as we charge ahead together in the digital economy.”

 

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