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Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at Punggol Digital District Connecting Smartness 2021

Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at Punggol Digital District Connecting Smartness 2021

Distinguished guests,

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

1. Good morning.

 

2. It is my great pleasure to join you this morning at the Punggol Digital District (PDD): Connecting Smartness 2021.

 

3. First, let me thank the organisers for their hard work in putting together this hybrid event that will allow all of us to participate in this event safely and meaningfully.

 

The rise of a digitally driven world

 

4. The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, both in Singapore and around the world.

 

a. Even though we have been working hard to stabilise the situation, we had to make the difficult decision to revert to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) in view of the recent spike in community cases.

 

b. Even as public health remains our priority, we cannot remain closed to the world. Our recovery also depends on how the economies of the rest of the world are doing.

 

c. Our long-term direction remains unchanged. We are still working hard to resume more economic and social activities safely once more of our people have been fully vaccinated.

 

5. COVID-19 has also accelerated changes in the way we live, and the way businesses operate.

 

a. It has affected both lives and livelihoods. Within a short span of time, businesses had to transform and digitalise the way they carried out their operations and engaged their customers to survive, given all the restrictions imposed.

 

b. Technological disruption of conventional business models and remote working trends have further demonstrated the importance of a digital economy, supported by robust infrastructure and logistics.

 

6. Amidst these disruptions, new opportunities are also emerging.

 

a. The digital economy can potentially fuel the next lap of economic growth. In Southeast Asia alone, the digital market is expected to triple by 2025 to reach US$300 billion[1]. Singapore must position ourselves optimally to make the most of these developments.

 

b. To get there, we need to be prepared to disrupt the traditional way of doing things. With the support of government and businesses working together, we can make the necessary transition.

 

Singapore’s role in a digital world

 

7. Today, Singapore is already home to many global technology companies, including the likes of Google and SAP. However, we need to continuously enhance our value proposition in order to remain the location of choice for tech businesses in the long-term.

 

8. Singapore has taken active steps to keep our people safe, our economy resilient, and provide a reliable and stable environment where tech businesses can anchor themselves and thrive.

 

a. First and most importantly, we must remain vigilant and determined in our approach to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore. As we continue to press ahead towards the new normal of living with endemic COVID-19, we must continue to prioritise the safety of our people and workers.

 

· Businesses are safe only when workers are safe and workplaces are safe. Businesses can continue to operate with minimal disruptions only if infections are under control. We are cautiously planning our domestic and international reopening accordingly, including the reopening of our air travels for foreign businesses at an appropriate time.

 

· The recent increase in community cases serves as an important reminder that the situation can change very quickly. We must stay vigilant. If we are not careful, any resurgence of COVID-19 in Singapore could be extremely costly not only to businesses, and to our overall economy but also in terms of lives lost.

 

· The government, our businesses and citizens have worked closely together, and put in every effort to stabilise the COVID-19 situation. We will continue to press on with these efforts.

 

b. Second, we are actively strengthening our digital infrastructure by investing in digital connectivity, data analytics, as well as cybersecurity.

 

· Our 5G infrastructure will transform and strengthen the foundation of our digital economy. We are planning for two nationwide 5G networks by 2025, and 50% coverage in two years. The higher speed and bandwidth of the 5G network will increase our capacity to accommodate more complex digital activities such as blockchain transactions, and many more possibilities.

 

· We are also cultivating a secure and trusted digital landscape by ramping up our cybersecurity to protect businesses against ever-present threats.

 

· We are also working with likeminded partners across the world to strengthen our digital connectivity and enable trusted cross-border data flows through Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs).

 

c. Third, we are on track to achieve our smart city ambitions.

 

· Three years ago, Singapore unveiled the masterplan for the Punggol Digital District (PDD) as the choice location for technology players. It would provide them a vibrant and collaborative ecosystem. Companies can plug into PDD, and gain convenient access to industry partners, academic expertise, as well as industry-ready talent.

 

· As a living lab for new concepts and solutions in AI, robotics, blockchain, cybersecurity and smart living, PDD is the first district to integrate physical and digital spaces between a business park and academic institution. The co-location of businesses and the future Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) brings businesses to talent, and talent to businesses. SIT students will benefit from a full-fledged applied learning environment with more than 10,000 SIT students sited at the PDD campus.

 

· PDD also uniquely offers businesses “plug and play” digital infrastructure through the Open Digital Platform (ODP). The ODP makes data available for companies, students and the public to testbed new concepts and solutions in a safe environment before actual deployment.

 

d. Last but not least, we are creating a more integrated work-live-play environment.

 

· With the closer integration of the community, academia and business spaces within PDD, the District will see greater vibrancy with new retail, dining and leisure options for the community to relax and unwind, as well as green links to the waterfront for lifestyle and recreational activities.

 

· This will add to PDD’s attractiveness as a truly connected work-live-play destination – for businesses, workers, students, and residents.

 

Punggol Digital District – a global hub for smart businesses

 

9. Today, three years ahead of its Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) date, I am pleased to announce that the first batch of global companies have confirmed that they will be located in PDD.

 

a. They are – Boston Dynamics, Delta Electronics Int’l (Singapore), Group-IB, Wanxiang as well as a network of tech associations.

 

b. Each of these companies bring with them different expertise to the mix, including robotics and engineering, electronics and automation, cybersecurity and blockchain technology.

 

10. I look forward to welcoming these companies at PDD. In fact, this inaugural batch of companies already have plans to set up base in Singapore and make full use of PDD’s collaborative ecosystem.

 

a. For example, Boston Dynamics will be partnering local startup dConstruct Technologies and SIT on learning and applied research of robotics systems. Using Boston Dynamic’s “Spot” robot and dConstruct’s software programming tool, SIT students will be able to develop robotic solutions for improved campus experiences. For instance, SIT students can programme the “Spot” robot to complete tasks such as last-mile delivery and smart campus management.

 

b. On public display here today are Delta Electronics’ smart solutions and its automated container farm. These are integrated into PDD’s Open Digital Platform. This integration allows remote monitoring and data analytics of environmental and machine metrics. This will form part of Delta’s PDD Smart Living Programme to provide companies with access to smart living solutions for learning and test-bedding purposes. Delta Electronics also has plans to set up a regional HQ in Kallang by 2022, on top of a satellite office at PDD.

 

c. In collaboration with SIT, international threat hunting and cyber intelligence company Group-IB is developing a virtual environment, called the PDD Cyberpolygon SandZone. This virtual environment allows the stress testing of applications, solutions and even systems against cyberthreats.

 

11. On top of PDD’s unique offerings, these firms will also stand to benefit from Singapore’s status as an open global hub for innovation, business and talent.

 

12. As PDD continues to grow, we expect over 2,000 tech-related jobs to be created at the PDD, ranging from fraud hunters, data analysts and solution engineers, to AI and blockchain developers.

 

a. The PDD will create good job opportunities for Singaporeans, including those living and studying in the Punggol district.

 

b. The ecosystem will be further strengthened by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and a network of tech associations. Together, we hope to create a vibrant ecosystem that promotes opportunities for collaboration in the digital technology space.

 

· For example, Wanxiang is partnering local blockchain accelerator Tribe to launch a blockchain makerspace and incubation programme at PDD. Targeted at students and startups, the programme will be an opportunity to strengthen their capabilities in data management. They will also partner local training provider AGB Education Centre to launch a series of programmes that focuses on building knowledge, training and certification in key technologies for the digital economy.

 

· I also understand that SIT students have just completed a bug bounty jointly organised by Group-IB, CSA and cybersecurity community Division Zero. Such collaborations not only promote interactive play, but also serve to equip our students with real-world skills in a digitally native world and build a talent pipeline for the industry.

 

· I look forward to more of such collaborations and partnerships at PDD.

 

Conclusion

 

13. The digital economy is a bright spot for businesses around the world and critical to the economic success for Singapore and Singaporeans. The strong business interest and investments in PDD is testament to Singapore’s reputation as the region’s digital innovation hub.

 

14. We look forward to partnering the PDD companies on your growth which will contribute to the growth of Singapore and Singaporeans, and vice-versa. We also welcome more players to contribute to the vibrant ecosystem at PDD.

 

15. Thank you.



[1] Google, Temasek, Bain & Company, e-Conomy SEA Report (2020)

 

 

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