IDA Chairman Yong Ying-I
In her opening address at the Google Big Tent event on 29 October, IDA Chairman Yong Ying-I, made several points on how Singapore fostered a culture of innovation.
Innovation is core to Singapore's competitive success, she said. "At Singapore's stage of development, we can no longer compete just by being more efficient or implement better than our competitors. We can only compete if we innovate."
"Singapore government agencies have been working to energise and support an enabling environment for innovation to take place," she said. "We are now seeing a vibrant technology start-up ecosystem take off. Patents granted for instance, has risen around 30 percent in the last two years, from 2010 to 2012. We have also seen several Singapore start-ups attaining international success; such as Viki, an on-demand video streaming website with user-generated subtitles; and YFind, which focuses on indoor positioning and real time analytics."
She also mentioned another Singapore start-up, Third Wave Power, which developed a portable multi-function solar charger known as mPowerpad. A first-of-its-kind, the device has many uses - from helping a rural village in Indonesia with limited power supply to providing power to travellers on adventure expeditions.
According to Ying-I, IDA sees the data explosion as a big opportunity for Singapore. "Now Singapore already has the infrastructure in place, the connectivity in our hands, a sophisticated customer base with high expectations, to be a Smart Nation," she said. "IDA believes that we can give our people, our businesses, our institutions the technology for them to capture, move and interpret data. Beyond better decision-making and performance, people can also make new connections out of this data - in other words, to innovate new solutions and offerings that can drive economic growth, create good jobs and improve lives."
How IDA fosters innovation in Singapore?
The IDA chairman pointed out several ways in which the leading government agency is fostering innovation in Singapore:
- The Singapore Government is encouraging open data and the proactive sharing of government data sets, to spur innovation. As part of this thrust, the Data Innovation Challenge was launched in June this year.
- IDA is developing a "tinkering environment" by setting up IDA Labs. We want to encourage everyone, regardless of age or roles, to try "tinkering with technology", to test things, make things yourself right within the office space.
- Singapore's National Research Foundation is also encouraging the translation of research developed in the universities and institutions into value creating businesses. There is a sizeable budget (above $1 billion for the current five-year funding period) to support schemes offered by a variety of government agencies in the name of innovation.
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