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As countries work towards digitalising economies, Telecom Review Asia Pacific interviews Robert Tay, Cluster Director at Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in charge of the ATxSG Programme Office to find out its role in shaping Singapore’s tech scene and advancing economies in the region. 

Singapore is positioned as Asia’s tech hub and the gateway to fast-growing economies in Asia. How does Singapore support digital transformation in the region?

As the gateway to the world’s fastest growing digital economies, Singapore plugs into global digital trade and business flows through strategic partnerships and digital economy collaborations to pave the way forward for businesses. Thanks to early investment in digital technologies, infrastructure and strong support for digital innovation, Singapore has a growing, vibrant start-up ecosystem. We have seen dreamers, developers, users and investors who have maximised the impact of technology to create digital products and services that shape the world we live in today. We will continue to support and provide enterprises greater access to resources and advisory to realise their business potential and ambitions. 

To help drive translation and adoption of digital technologies, we continue to attract and nurture tech talents who can bolster Singapore’s national capabilities, as well as support digital transformation in the Asian region. We will double down efforts through talent development initiatives and collaborate with industry partners to equip our local and regional workforce with the relevant skills and knowledge. This will help them take advantage of the immense opportunities in the new digital economy. 

Within the country, what are some initiatives rolled out by IMDA to advance Singapore’s tech ambitions? 

Singapore remains an attractive testbed and springboard for innovative enterprises looking to develop and deploy new technology solutions that address business or industry gaps. A key example is IMDA’s Open Innovation Platform (OIP). The OIP is a crowdsourcing platform that accelerates digital innovation by matching real business challenges of problem owners to tech solution providers. It can cater to a wide spectrum of innovation needs from a broad-based innovation marketplace to a platform for complex challenges with sectoral or national impact. To date, it has organised over 190 challenges, convened more than 10,000 problem solvers and initiated over 60 innovation projects. IMDA continues to invest in enhancing the OIP to be the leading digital innovation platform in Singapore. This ensures innovative digital products and solutions developed through tech is infused into the society, businesses and sectors readily. 

Ultimately, tech is about enriching lives and ensuring no one gets left behind. In Singapore, digital readiness efforts have been ongoing to provide digital access and skills to segments of society. The most recent initiative is the launch of Digital for Life, a national movement to galvanise the community to help our embrace digital as a lifelong pursuit, and to enrich their lives through digital so that no one will be left behind. 

Why is it important for different countries in Asia to explore a shared digital future and what is the potential impact of these public-private discussions?

Asia is fast becoming a global hub of innovation. The region, which comprises the world’s fastest growing digital economies, has the opportunity to take the lead in collectively shaping the future digital landscape in the world. With access to deep labour markets, and a widespread agenda to spur innovation; these are elements necessary to catalyse solutions for a digital era. 

While diverse, the region is no longer a laggard in technological advances. It is in the shared interest of the region to bridge the digital divides, and strive for a better digital future together through the cross- pollination of ideas and technologies. 

The best innovations arise at the intersection of cutting-edge technology, international business, creative pursuits, and society at large. Digital technology has long been transforming the global economy, and close public-private collaborations play a significant role in doing so. 

International trade forms the backbone of Singapore’s open economy. To help our businesses grow and expand into new markets, IMDA establishes open and interoperable digital utilities that provide common standards and functionalities to enable business transactions and flow of data. They allow businesses trusted and efficient means of doing business digitally. For instance, Singapore, in collaboration with various domestic and international agencies and industry partners, has developed TradeTrust – an interoperability framework to connect different platforms and enable them to exchange digital trade documentation efficiently. This enables a more seamless and efficient flow of goods between digitally inter-connected trading partners. 

Asia Tech x Singapore, jointly organised by IMDA, is an inaugural flagship event that focuses on driving Asia’s digital economies forward. Can you tell us more about the event’s format and highlights?

Asia Tech x Singapore (ATxSG) is Asia’s flagship tech event where technology intersects with society and the digital economy. It will be a virtual event in Singapore that will bring together the private and public sectors to explore in-depth conversations on the role technology plays in society, and how it serves as both a bridge and catalyst for greater innovation in the digital economy. 

Organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Informa Tech, and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), this inaugural event builds on the foundations of Singapore’s Smart Nation Innovation Week and Informa Tech’s ConnecTechAsia into a single flagship tech platform — ATxSG. 

There will be four segments to this event: ATxSummit, an exclusive invite-only summit hosted by IMDA that gathers governments, global enterprises and communities. Delegates will engage in conversations on trends, challenges and opportunities across the four key pillars; ATxEnterprise, a B2B platform for the telecommunications, media and tech industries, comprising long- running exhibition and conferences SatelliteAsia and TechXLR8 Asia; ATxImpact, a collection of events fostering social impact and start-ups including Elevating Founders Asia, Innovfest and accelerateHER Asia; and ATxPlus, which features a deeper insights into today’s hottest topics in business and technology. 

AT x Summit is an invitation-only summit for top government and business leaders to convene. What are the key agenda points? 

ATxSummit is an exclusive invite-only summit hosted by Singapore’s IMDA that gathers governments, global enterprises and communities. Delegates will engage in conversations on trends, challenges and opportunities across the four key pillars: Tech x Trust, where the role of tech in engendering trust in our increasingly “trust-less” world is dissected by thought leaders in the space; Tech x Good, which examines how diversity, inclusivity and sustainability are necessary at an individual, company and country level; Tech x Builders, that spotlights pioneers who have pushed the limits of innovation to build products and solutions that maximise the impact of technology; and Tech x Creative, that brings you behind the scenes to reveal how creative design and storytelling elevate technology. 


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