In recent years, the global talent war has started, and competition for talent is white-hot. To learn from experience, Recruit specially sent staff to Sin Chew to interview local scholars and business leaders, etc. From this we analyzed the economy and manpower strategies of the Lion City for several consecutive periods, including blueprints of local economic and industrial transformation, attracting international talent policies, various visa programs, etc.
As the main force for the economy and talent, how do enterprises cooperate with Sin Chew’s innovation and development? In this issue, we continue to visit companies in Sin Chew, inviting managers to share the reasons why international technology companies have settled in the region. Some digitization promoters also pointed out the strategy of the Collective Action Alliance of Sin Chew political and business organizations, hoping to bring inspiration to Hong Kong’s economic and human development.
Singapore’s promotion of economic digital transformation can bring together forces from all walks of life to innovate together and create a unique cooperation model. The Combined Action Alliance established by the government and the industry connects stakeholders to expand opportunities. PwC Singapore (PwC Singapore) digital business and risk and control partner Greg Unsworth is an expert in digitalization in Singapore. He has participated in projects in different industries and has a deep understanding of the collaboration of all sectors of the local community.
Originally from Australia, Greg Unsworth joined PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) after graduating from a university in Australia. His career development started with auditing, and he later dabbled in technology, media, and telecommunications consulting work. He then became a digital expert, mainly assisting clients to promote technology transformation. He likes to explore new things and has worked in Australia, Britain, Japan, Africa, and other places, but he settled in Singapore in 2003.
Said with a smile, he has established his business in Singapore, and his children have grown up there. Apart from the clean city appearance and safe environment, there is another important factor that attracts him to Sin Chew. “Singapore is an interesting place. Especially after 2003, the trend of digitalization began to sprout and continue to grow, bringing many development opportunities. Working here, I have witnessed many interesting changes.”
What is the change that makes this technology push very interesting? He took out his mobile phone, pointed to the application program on the screen, and said: “This program is called Singpass, which can handle almost all government services. This is a very practical and meaningful digital development.” Singapore launched a digital identity authorization system in 2003. Singpass (Singapore Personal Access) was later built into a mobile application, which now connects 3.5 million citizens, permanent residents, and other authorized users to 2,000 government and business services.
Unsworth said that in promoting the application of technology in Singapore, the government often takes the lead and provides practical support. “The support I’m talking about is not just providing funding, but carefully examining the needs of industry transformation, formulating long-term plans, and continuing to implement.” The Singapore government formulated transformation blueprints for 23 key industries in 2016, including construction, logistics, nursing, financial services, catering, retail, food manufacturing, etc. Each industry sets four strategies: innovation, digitalization and productivity, talent training, and internationalization. In addition, to gather strength to drive transformation and transformation, the Singapore government has also established a unique public-private partnership model and established the “Alliances for Action” (Alliances for Action) with the industry to collaborate on innovative solutions.
At present, there are seven action alliances in the local area to carry out innovative projects in various fields, including digitalization of the supply chain; sustainable development of the environment; digitalization of the built environment; smart commerce; robotics; safe and innovative tourism experience; and educational technology.
As a technology promoter, Unsworth has assisted different industries in digitalization. His most memorable experience in recent years is his participation in the Singapore Trade Information Sharing Platform (SGTraDex) project, which was initiated by the Support Chain Digitalization Alliance. “Aiming at the pain points of the supply chain industry, we will establish new solutions with industry players and government agencies.” He said that the problems faced by the logistics supply chain in the past include insufficient transparency of information and data, and the need for manual processing of some processes, resulting in increased costs and reduced overall freight efficiency. To improve the situation, the action alliance connects government port management departments, shipping companies, commodity traders, energy companies, etc. This group jointly develops the SGTraDex platform applicable to the entire supply chain ecosystem, shares data from different links in the supply chain, and assists the industry to optimize cargo handling and operations processes.
Unsworth said that participating in the various tasks of the project, such as establishing systems, coordinating stakeholders, and ensuring data security, faced many challenges, but it also gave him a deeper understanding of the Sin Chew Model – “Government, industry, individuals, everyone is moving towards the same goal and facing the future with more confidence.”
He further said that almost all industries in Singapore have also undergone digitalization in recent years. “Digitalization is now an essential strategy. Without technological innovation, it is difficult to compete in the market.”
Singapore is a world-recognized pioneer in the development of smart cities. The government has repeatedly taken the lead in the application of technological innovation services. Taking Singpass launched in 2003 as an example, it has continuously strengthened its functions and gradually built it into an application. It can be used in various government services, such as making appointments for medical consultations, borrowing books from public libraries, collecting passports, applying for public housing “HDB” and collecting keys. In the absence of mandatory regulations, almost all local citizens and permanent residents (97%) have Singpass accounts.
Enterprises implement digital transformation. In addition to deploying technological equipment, people’s thinking also needs to change simultaneously. Practitioners need to have a lifelong learning attitude to keep pace with the times. In Singapore, companies also take on the important task of training. For example, PwC launched the Your Digital Future program to provide digital skills training for 3,500 local employees and partners and established the Digital Innovation Office to encourage employees to implement innovative ideas. “The training is designed for all colleagues to help them master various technologies and data analysis tools. In addition to improving skills, the training also drives a change in mindset, so that colleagues are more confident in the face of future technological changes and can continue to add value through continuous learning.”
Why did an AI technology company that participated in the US mission to explore Mars go all the way to Singapore to set up its Asia-Pacific headquarters? The answer is not as esoteric as rocket technology, but simple enough to be found at your local Hawker Centre. Sidney Lim, Managing Director of Beyond Limits in Singapore and Southeast Asia said, “Because cooked food stalls are also at the forefront of technological transformation, they are members of the digital economy ecosystem. A thriving digital ecosystem is a foundation for the development of technology companies. The application of technology not only starts from the industry but also goes deep into the community. Society has a considerable degree. The digitization of digital technology can move towards AI.” .
Beyond Limits is an American technology company that originated from NASA’s Mars exploration project. The robot Curiosity sent to Mars that year was equipped with the company’s AI system. In addition to entering space, Beyond Limits also develops various industrial-grade AI solutions for applications in medical, manufacturing, finance, energy, and other industries. The company settled in Sin Chew in 2020 and established a regional headquarters.
Lim said that there is considerable flexibility in importing overseas experts to Singapore. “For example, we hired a quantum computer technology expert from Finland earlier, and the visa application was approved within a short time after submission.”
Lim revealed that the company settled in Singapore three years ago because of the development of local science and technology, which can bring opportunities for AI applications. He said that it is not difficult at all to understand the technology business opportunities in Sin Chew, if you go to the cooked food center, you can see that there is little knowledge. “You can see that many merchants use digital technology. The owner may be an elderly man in his 70s, but he has never lagged in applying technology to business. There is a QR code in the restaurant. Customers can order food through the online system and pay electronically and check out. The development of high technology is not achieved overnight. Society needs to build an ecosystem to promote the digitalization of various industries. Singapore has been quite successful in this regard, which is also a place that can attract talents and enterprises to settle in one of the reasons.”
He also said that because the government vigorously promotes the application of technology and penetrates different levels of society, Sin Chew can attract many technology companies to settle in the area. “Singapore has a unique feature, the government can connect and coordinate different agencies so that everyone can move towards the same goal. Taking the application of technology in cooked food stalls as an example, the government has recruited different suppliers, including customer management systems, mobile applications, electronic payment systems, etc., to cooperate to build an application solution. Shop owners only need to participate in the plan, there are ready-made solutions available and can receive support and funding, which is much more effective than shop owners looking for solutions in the market alone. There are also many plans in Singapore to help various industries transform. It’s an attractive environment for technology companies.”
“The Beyond Limits team regularly organizes various activities to promote work-life balance, which is also one of the ways to attract talent.”
Lim said that a thriving digital economy ecosystem is especially important for AI technology
companies to promote their business. “Because AI is a high-end technology, its application, and R&D must have basic supporting facilities. First, industries and enterprises implement digitalization to master data. When the database becomes more mature, AI can be used for various in-depth and predictive analyses and diagnoses. Therefore, As the economy transitions to digital, AI applications and demand will also increase.”
He continued that in Singapore, AI solutions have great potential for application, especially Beyond Limits as a cognitive AI technology (cognitive AI). In the face of some unknown factors, it can still use a decision-making model that is close to the thinking of the human brain to produce streamlined and effective results. Efficient solutions can be used across domains in numerous industries. “For example, we have cooperated with the Japanese chemical company Toagosei to provide an AI solution for equipment maintenance, which can comprehensively analyze various data to make a diagnosis and perform predictive maintenance for equipment. This is preventive maintenance that can be performed before a failure occurs, i.e., maintenance and repairs to improve operational efficiency.”
Lim said that the Singapore government plays an important role in promoting the development of technology and talents. “Governments can often take the initiative to foresee future trends and make long-term and forward-looking deployments, instead of waiting for trends to come and be hit head-on, helpless.”
With the continuous development of the company’s business, the demand for talent is increasing. “I joined Beyond Limits in April 2020 as the company’s first employee in Singapore. Later, the company’s business continued to grow, expanding to Malaysia, Japan, and even mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Today, the team in the Asia-Pacific region has 200 people.” He said that the company not only imports talent from overseas but also actively cultivates local talent. “We have the Beyonders Internship Program for people from different backgrounds, such as university graduates or those looking for a career transition. In Singapore, they can participate in the company’s technology projects around the world and work with top experts. They have the opportunity to officially become an employee.”
Singapore promotes the development of science and technology, from the country, industry, and even the community, to carry out all aspects. In addition to formulating economic and industry transformation plans, the authorities have also implemented technology applications at the community level. The Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority established the Singapore Digital Transformation Office (SDO-SG Digital Office) in 2020 and launched the Digital Elderly Program and the Talk Master Learning Digital Program. The former is designed for the elderly to help them learn to use mobile phone instant messaging and electronic payment programs. The latter is aimed at stall owners in cooked food centers, coffee shops, wet markets, etc., to help them apply technology at the business level, for example, to help stall owners use the national shared payment QR (SGQR).
In addition, the Singapore Digital Transformation Office has also established the Singapore Digital Transformation Community Assistance Station (SG Digital Community Hubs), which provides one-on-one and one-stop digital assistance to the elderly and hawker stall owners. The authorities employ college graduates as digital ambassadors, and station 2 to 5 people at each aid station to provide individual guidance or group learning to people in the community.
SEE THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE [CHINESE].