SINGAPORE: A new digital-focused office was launched by the Singapore Government on Wednesday (Jun 26), as it looks to work better with the private sector to unlock the opportunities in a “digital-as-usual age”, including the creation of an estimated 10,000 new jobs within the tech sector.
This was revealed by Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran in his opening speech at the Smart Nation Summit, the flagship event of this year’s Smart Nation Innovations Week.
Mr Iswaran said the digital economy is intertwined with the conventional one we know today, and technology is integral to the fabric of businesses here, as well as people’s jobs and everyday lives.
“In Singapore, our vision is for a digital economy where every business is digitally empowered, every worker is digitally skilled, and every citizen is digitally connected,” he said.
To address this opportunity, the Government and the private sector must work together as “trusted partners and co-creators of solutions”, which is why it is setting up the new Digital Industry Singapore (DISG) office, the minister said.
The new office brings together 45 existing officers from the Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), according to a separate press release from DISG on Wednesday.
The new office is positioned as the first stop for digital industry-related matters, and will work with companies across the spectrum of enterprise needs like securing talent and market access, building capabilities and going international, Mr Iswaran said.
He pointed to how DISG supported the establishment of Grab’s new headquarters in Singapore, which will house up to 3,000 employees and its largest research and development (R&D) centre.
The new office also facilitated the collaboration between Grab, media company Vice and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to discover and nurture local digital content creators. This allows content creators to reach a regional audience via Grab’s and Vice’s platforms, as well as a chance to enhance their skills with an immersion programme with the latter, he said.
Mr Iswaran added: “There are several other projects of similar ilk in the DISG pipeline, which will also bring broader benefits for Singapore’s digital ecosystem, including the creation of an estimated 10,000 new jobs over the next three years.”
DISG said that beyond tech roles, jobs in areas like finance, human resources, innovation and business development will be created.
REDUCING CROSS-BORDER DIGITAL BARRIERS
The minister in his speech also highlighted that companies have shared the current rules and policies do not adequately address new issues raised by the digital economy. Existing trade agreements are designed for trade in goods and services, but less suited for digital transactions, he said.
As such, Singapore mooted the idea of a Digital Economy Agreement, which Mr Iswaran said is a new form of agreement which anchors cooperation among like-minded countries on the digital economy.
“Digital Economy Agreements will put in place clear and harmonised rules for greater interoperability between digital frameworks, and to guard against digital and data barriers,” he elaborated.
“(These agreements) will also establish international rules and benchmarks, to address newer areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and digital identities.”
For instance, Singapore, Chile and New Zealand have initiated trilateral talks on a Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), while there are also talks with Australia to deepen cooperation for the digital economy, Mr Iswaran said.
“We look forward to building more of such partnerships, to pave the way for this new model of economic engagement and trade,” he added.