More investment dollars, refreshed tech roadmap in the works: S Iswaran

More investment dollars, refreshed tech roadmap in the works: S Iswaran

“We must be prepared to do more in R&D because digital technologies will only become more pervasive - and companies and countries around us are already investing heavily in this,” the Minister for Communications and Information says.

A refreshed technology roadmap, more spending on research and development (R&D) and a one-stop office to address the needs of infocommunications and media (ICM) companies were mooted by the Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran at the ministry's workplan seminar. Lee Li Ying with more. 

SINGAPORE: A refreshed technology roadmap, more spending on research and development (R&D) and a one-stop office to address the needs of infocommunications and media (ICM) companies. 

These were mooted by the Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran at the ministry's workplan seminar, his first since helming the ministry in May.

Speaking to staff from the ministry on Tuesday (Jul 24), Mr Iswaran said the refreshed technology roadmap will guide R&D investments in emerging digital technologies for the rest of the Research Innovation Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan, and beyond. 

The ministry is currently engaging companies and agencies on this roadmap, and more details will be shared at the launch later this year, he added.

Mr Iswaran also committed to a longer-term plan to invest in digital technologies R&D.

The minister, who took over the ministry from Mr Yaacob Ibrahim, shared that S$360 million was allocated to the Services and Digital Economy domain under the RIE2020 plan and “promising investments” in initiatives like AI Singapore and cybersecurity have been made. But more needs to be done.

“I fully intend to increase R&D spending on the Services and Digital Economy domain,” the minister said.

“We must be prepared to do more in R&D because digital technologies will only become more pervasive - and companies and countries around us are already investing heavily in this.”

He said MCI is reviewing its plans in this area with the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the outcome will be announced later this year.

In the meantime, Mr Iswaran said training the local workforce in digital skills through the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) programme is ongoing. A total of 39,000 training places have been taken or committed by companies since its launch in 2016. This, he said, can give more Singaporeans the opportunity to participate in the digital economy with good ICT jobs.

These initiatives are part of MCI’s efforts to deepen Singapore’s capabilities to keep pace and retain its competitive edge in today’s digital age, he explained.

ONE-STOP SHOP

Mr Iswaran also highlighted another initiative meant to better address the needs of local ICM companies.

Reiterating the ministry’s aim to build a “vibrant, world-class ICM industry that drives the economy and powers a Smart Nation”, the minister said implementation is key and MCI needs to engage, understand the needs of enterprises and marshal national resources to help them realise their plans.

Currently, there are several agencies involved in this, namely Enterprise Singapore, Economic Development Board (EDB) and Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), but he said more can be done to bring their efforts together.

To better support these ICM companies, these agencies will form a joint office, Mr Iswaran announced. This digital industry office will bring together their programmes in improving market access, developing enterprises, industry and talent as well as account management, the minister added.

“In a way, this joint office will be our own Government start-up for how we’d do industry development,” Mr Iswaran said.

Source: CNA/kk

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