Singapore’s vision to become the Digital Capital of Asia is bolstered by the Singapore Government announcing new initiatives to collaborate for industry development, market access, capability enhancement, and policy formulation.
The Digital Industry Singapore (DISG) office plans to bring together 45 existing officers from the Enterprise Singapore and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Economic Development Board (EDB) to collaborate and plan the roadmap to future-proof organic growth. This strategy will work towards unlocking value between the public and private sectors by transforming the way the Singapore government engages with the tech firms. The country hopes to streamline the growth of tech firms by creating approximately 10,000 new jobs in the next three years. Singapore wants to become the first stop for the digital industry by securing talent and building capabilities, enhancing market access, creating advanced digital infrastructure, and internationalize the growth approach.
In anticipation of generating an adequate number of jobs, the Government also emphasises the importance of reskilling. Experts from the country estimate that by 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re or up skilling. Singapore Government is pushing firms to craft robust lifelong learning systems by investing in people. Internationally, DISG will handle the Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), a new form of agreement between Singapore and countries who have similar digital economy aspirations.
This aims to put in place international rules for greater interoperability between digital frameworks, guarding the digital and data barriers, and addressing newer areas such as AI and digital identities. DEA will also help Singapore in its trilateral talks on a Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with New Zealand, Chile, and Australia.
Two hundred of the world’s top digital companies have established their regional headquarters, management, innovation, or manufacturing set-ups in Singapore. P&G has established a US$100 million digital innovation centre focusing on innovation in core areas of digital analytics, e-commerce, and supply chain management. Capgemini has set-up its Applied Innovation Center in Singapore focused on AI, cognitive computing, data analytics, and visualization. The Singapore government has also joined hands with Microsoft for development of intelligent chatbots delivering human-like customer service.
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Singapore market is all geared up to adapt AI in their everyday life. A survey showed that Singaporeans are increasingly ready to embrace AI, with 55% of the population looking forward to hyper-personalized services. A significant chunk of the population owns voice-enabled devices and upgraded AI assisted appliances. Singapore is the heart of the tech industry of Asia, promising the biggest potential market.
The Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) sets out the vision of a connected digital future through the development of telecommunication / ICT in the Asia Pacific region. This aims to make telecommunication accessible to everyone, across geography, enabling people to embrace diversity, through inclusive policies and reliable infrastructure. The IMDA and the National Research Foundation (NRF) has set aside S$40 million to build an open and inclusive 5G Innovation ecosystem-supporting trials developing research centers and open test beds. The IMDA is working with telcos Singtel and M1 to explore the use of 5G technology for the maritime industry to address the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA)’s connectivity needs to enhance port productivity.
A significant financial investment in developing tech infrastructure is the pillar of Singapore’s digital advancement. In the year 2016 alone, the country awarded US$1.98 billion worth of info-com technology contracts through the government’s Smart Nation initiative. Majority of the deals were devoted to investment in physical infrastructure for expanding cabling and networks, high-speed Wi-Fi, and IT security. The Government promotes businesses, researchers, students and manufacturing and engineering start-ups to develop their innovation centers in Singapore’s dedicated industrial sites. The city-state also encourages public-private partnerships between industry, academia, and government through the National Research Foundation.
With a thriving digital ecosystem underpinned by Government policies, infrastructure, and skilled people – Singapore is becoming a hotspot for tech experimentation and innovation. The growing pool of IT expertise and a hyper-connected population makes Singapore a fertile ground for MNCs to grow their business.