Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong At The Singapore Week Of Innovation And Technology (SWITCH) Global 2021

Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong At The Singapore Week Of Innovation And Technology (SWITCH) Global 2021

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good morning, it is a pleasure to join you at the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) 2021. Despite the challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, I am glad to see that we can leverage on technology to allow many of our businesses and partners from all over the world to join us here today. 

2. SWITCH 2021 has in store an exciting programme ahead.  Participants can learn from the wealth of experience from invited speakers, participate in leadership discussions and masterclasses, as well as network with industry partners. I am sure it will be a fruitful and productive week.

3. The theme for SWITCH 2021 is “Global Gateway to Innovation in Asia”, which builds on Singapore’s reputation as a leading global innovation hub. 

4. Indeed, innovation is not only a key driver of economic growth, it also plays an important role in unlocking new opportunities and accessing new markets. 

5. It is vital that we partner each other in our innovation journey. By working with overseas partners, Singapore companies can develop products and solutions that meet diverse global needs. At the same time, overseas partners can tap on Singapore companies’ capabilities and networks to enter the Southeast Asia markets.  

6. Singapore therefore actively supports cross-border partnerships through various programmes. They include:

a. The Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) Acceleration Programmes, where local and foreign companies can participate in market immersion programmes;

b. Co-Innovation Programmes, where our companies work with overseas partners on joint innovation projects; and

c. Open Innovation initiatives, where start-ups and SMEs can work with large corporates to develop innovative solutions to address their specific needs.

7. Even in the face of challenges, our companies have pressed on with their internationalisation plans, and participated actively in these programmes to break into new markets. 

a. Since 2020, we have conducted close to 40 GIA Acceleration Programmes across Asia, Europe, and North America for over 300 companies. Through these programmes, 65 tech start-ups have established partnerships with in-market players and expanded overseas.  

i. For example, Hiverlab, (“High-ver Lab”) a Singapore immersive technology company, participated in a virtual GIA Acceleration Programme to access the Vietnam market through business workshops. 

ii. Hiverlab (“High-ver Lab”) set up a team in Vietnam. It has been appointed as Microsoft’s exclusive authorised device reseller for its mixed reality device, HoloLens 2, and is now partnering Microsoft to develop the mixed reality ecosystem in Vietnam. 

b. Singapore has also supported 46 joint innovation projects since 2020, with partners in Germany, France, China and more. These projects have facilitated the exchange of ideas and know-how between Singapore and overseas companies, to develop new technologies and solutions that are globally competitive. 

8. The Singapore government has continued our efforts to strengthen our position as a global-Asia node for innovation.

a. ESG is expanding the GIA global network to include a new node in Moscow, Russia. Singapore start-ups and SMEs will be able to access Russia through Moscow, and vice versa. This brings us to 16 GIA nodes across the world. Over the next five years, we plan to expand our network to 25 nodes. This will expand the breadth of opportunities that local start-ups can access as they embark on their innovation and internationalisation journey. 

b. Singapore joined the Eureka network in May this year, as an Associate Country. Through Eureka, Singapore companies can access funding for joint innovation projects with partners from over 45 countries. 

i. Since then, Singapore has participated in the inaugural Eurostars Call in September 2021, which supports international collaborative innovation and R&D projects by SMEs and project partners. 

ii. We also recently launched a new bilateral call with Turkey via the Eureka Network Project, which facilitates collaboration between organisations in Eureka member countries. This adds to our series of bilateral calls with France, Germany, Israel, Shanghai and Zhejiang in China. 

9. Singapore is a gateway to innovation in Asia that serves regional and global needs. We encourage companies around the world to explore the region through partnerships with us. 

a. We will be developing inbound programmes for foreign start-ups who are looking to enter Singapore and tap on Singapore as a launchpad to access the Southeast Asia region. We welcome these start-ups into Singapore as they contribute to the vibrancy of the local start-up ecosystem. 

i. One such programme is the Global Launch Singapore run by our GIA San Francisco partner, 500 Global.  The programme seeks to help early and growth stage start-ups enter the Singapore market and eventually expand their business across Southeast Asia. 

ii. We hope to work with our partners to develop more programmes, to cement Singapore’s position as a global innovation hub and a catalyst for innovation activities in the region.  

10. I encourage our companies and partners here and abroad to actively explore the various programmes and platforms available to access new markets and grow your business networks and opportunities. 
11. In addition to market access platforms, Singapore is also encouraging more cross-border collaborations through open innovation initiatives. 

a. Large corporates can share their problem statements and invite start-ups and SMEs to pitch their ideas. Selected start-ups will work with the corporate to co-develop a solution, and successful solutions are then deployed. 

12. Such partnerships can accelerate the innovation process. 

a. For the large corporates, they provide access to a suite of global start-ups with fresh and exciting ideas. 

b. For the start-ups, they allow partnership opportunities with leading global companies, which would open up new business and learning opportunities, and may even enable access to overseas markets. 

13. I am pleased that more overseas corporates have been taking part in our challenges.

a. At SWITCH last year, Singapore launched the inaugural Southeast Asia Open Innovation Challenge (SEA OIC), where SMEs and start-ups have the opportunity to work on wide-ranging challenge statements in sectors such as Media, Retail, Consumer Tech, Fintech, Proptech, and Agritech.
b. The Challenge brought together five corporates  from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and received over 300 submissions from 30 countries. This is testament to the vibrancy and enormous potential of the startup and innovation ecosystem in Southeast Asia. 

c. The first SEA OIC resulted in six pilot projects. 

i. One of the shortlisted solution providers is AImazing (“A-I-may-zing”), which worked with Hong Leong Holdings to develop a cloud-based data management platform for its tenant management process. AImazing (“A-I-may-zing”) successfully installed its devices at Hong Leong’s tenants, and has since secured additional projects with partners in Malaysia and the Philippines. 

14. Building on the success of the first edition, I am glad to announce the launch of the 2nd Southeast Asia Open Innovation Challenge. 

a. This year, we have 11 challenge statements from 8 corporates across the region, which cover a wide range of sectors, including sustainability, real estate, hospitality, and healthcare. 

b. There are familiar names from our first edition, such as Sunway Group from Malaysia, as well as new companies participating in the challenge. 

c. The challenge provides exciting business opportunities for local enterprises to work with industry leaders and expand your consumer base.

d. I encourage our startups and SMEs to participate in these challenges. 

15. In closing, technology and innovation will be the key drivers of future economic growth. There is tremendous potential in the ASEAN region, which is set to be the 4th largest economy by 2030. 

16. Platforms and networks such as the GIA Acceleration Programmes, Co-innovation Programmes, and Open Innovation Initiatives have been and will continue to be vital in connecting companies around the world, in driving the development of innovative solutions and in opening new doors for our enterprises. 

17. The Singapore government will continue to support these initiatives, work with the industry to forge greater cross-border partnerships, and grow our innovation capabilities locally and globally. I welcome our businesses and partners to continue this exciting journey with us. 

18. I hope that throughout the week, you will make full use of the upcoming events and resources to be kept informed of latest trends, engage in robust discussions, and find new and innovative paths of success for your business. 

19. Have a meaningful week ahead. Thank you.  
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