The Singapore government has reiterated its commitment to continuously invest on projects and initiatives that will unlock the full potential of the digital revolution, injecting nearly US$70million into R&D to bolster the city’s technological capabilities.
This was key message from the speech given yesterday by Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat during the opening the ATxSummit, the apex event of Asia Tech x Singapore (ATxSG).
“Even as we leverage on AI, IoT and 5G to power today’s digital revolution, we must continue to invest patient capital for new gamechangers in the next bound of growth,” Heng said, pointing out that the digital revolution that the city is experiencing today is powered by the technologies that it had patiently invested in over the decades.
For instance, Heng noted that AI has been in development since the 1980s, with a major milestone reached in 1997 when Deep Blue became the first chess-playing computer to defeat a reigning world champion. “But it was not until the last five to ten years that we began to truly harness the potential of AI,” he added.
The current pandemic has “turbo charged” the pace of the digital revolution, but also ushered the “worst global recession in a century”. Nevertheless, Heng urged all stakeholders in various industry sectors not to be fazed into pulling back from technology investments.
“During a global recession, it is understandable that investments for the long term would come under pressure. But we should resist these pressures, as sustained investment in science and technology is critical to supporting innovation,” he said.
Close US$70 million in R&D investments
During his speech at the ATxSummit, Heng announced that the city will be launching a US$50million Future Communications Research & Development Programme (FCP).
The FCP supports cutting edge communications and connectivity research, and will in turn grow local capability to translate that into innovative products, services, and companies. This will be accomplished through the setup of new communications testbeds in 5G and beyond-5G, and support technology development, translation and training, while building up the talent pool in the areas of communications and connectivity technologies
As a start, the FCP has established a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the 6G Flagship Office of Finland.
“5G networks are being rolled out and are expected to cover one-third of the world’s population by 2025. We will need to look ahead at the next bound,” he said.
The FCP investment is on top of the US$19 billion spending on research, innovation and enterprise, which the city government allocated in the next five years, building deeper capabilities in technologies such as quantum and blockchain.
Singapore Trade Data Exchange unveiled
Furthermore, Heng used the ATxSummit to launch the Singapore Trade Data Exchange (SGTraDex), a common data infrastructure for the supply chain ecosystem. It is seen as breakthrough that would allow stakeholders to easily “plug and play” to exchange data in a secure environment.
SGTraDex is developed by Alliance for Action on Supply Chain Digitalisation, which counts as members port operator PSA International and commodities trader Trafigura. The alliance was one of the new series of private-public partnerships convened last year.
With SGTraDex, previously unavailable or difficult to obtain data – such as real-time cargo location – can be easily attained. This will enable logistic players and shippers to optimise cargo handling and operations.
SGTraDex will also enable new value-added services for supply chain participants and speed up the processing of customs clearance, trade financing, insurance and other related activities.
“Our goal is to on-board stakeholders along the supply chain, especially smaller firms, so that they can be part of this digital backbone,” Heng said. “Once on board, firms can exchange information with other parties through SGTraDex. The data will be encrypted and transmitted without being stored.”
From the pilots so far, Heng revealed that SGTraDex has the potential to unlock more than US$150 million of value annually for the supply chain ecosystem.
SGTraDex is the second common data infrastructure exchange in the last seven months, the first being the Singapore Financial Data Exchange, which claims to be the world’s first public digital infrastructure that allows a person to sign-in using his national digital identity. The user can provide consent to obtain his financial information from different financial institutions and agencies. Data from each source is encrypted and transmitted through the Exchange without being stored.
Both exchanges are part of a suite of digital infrastructure and utilities being developed to provide a strong foundation for Singapore’s digital economy.
Meanwhile, the inaugural ATxSG event will run until July 16. The four-day mega-tech fest seeks to drive conversations across business, technology and government sectors that will shape the digital future not only in Singapore but across the Asean region.
Organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Informa Tech and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), ATxSG four main segments, namely ATxSummit, ATxEnterprise, ATxImpact, and ATxPlus under its wing, with established conferences such as BroadcastAsia, CommunicAsia, SatelliteAsia and InnoFest among others tucked into the relevant segments.
“At ATxSG, we want to shift the focus from technology in isolation to its intersection with society and the digital economy. There are both opportunities and challenges in these intersections, and that’s where important ideas and innovations are needed. Singapore, as a Global-Asia node and the Tech gateway to the fastest growing digital economies in the ASEAN region, makes it an ideal place to spark these conversations, and co-create potential solutions. We are delighted to host government and business leaders from over 20 countries at the ATxSummit, to collectively shape our shared digital future,” said IMDA chief executive Lew Chuen Hong.