Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good morning to all of you. I am delighted to join you this morning for the launch of the Developer Space @ Google Singapore. I was here in 2016 for the opening of Google’s new Singapore campus at Maple Tree Business City. Today, we are launching its Developer Space. This is another significant milestone and marks the further expansion of Google’s operations in Singapore. It also shows how it is contributing to the overall development of our infocomm media industry and the broader eco-system. This is a partnership we value and want to nurture.
(A) Developing businesses – investing in the local enterprise community to help businesses & people realise opportunities in the digital economy
Industry investments are important to complement government efforts in supporting the digital economy
2 Complementing the efforts of the government, contributions and investments from the industry such as Google have been important in bolstering our economic growth and efforts to develop new industry segments. These investments and initiatives bring with them the talent, resources and capabilities that are essential for our industries. They also help to spark growth across the economy that could create new opportunities for businesses and our people.
3 I would like to start by congratulating Google for launching its first-ever Developer Space @ Google in Singapore. This 7200 square feet space will be a platform for Google to run programs and to work with the developer community. We think this will be an important catalyst for the development and the nurturing of the developer community in Singapore.
4 As you have heard from Rick (Harshman)1, this will include Google’s 4-day intensive Machine-Learning Boot Camp for professional developers for them to be skilled in Google machine-learning technology such as TensorFlow, Google Cloud Platform Machine Learning and BigQuery. The space will also house community events like the annual Google Developer Festival that aims to help build up local developer capabilities, and their knowledge of the latest technologies and technological trends.
5 The launch of the Developer Space @ Google augments our efforts to boost Singapore’s digital capabilities by providing an additional avenue for companies to learn how to go digital and adopt digital solutions. This is a nationwide effort as we want to uplift the broader base of enterprises in Singapore. We have about 200,000 of them, and we want them to be active and effective adopters of digital solutions.
6 I understand that four members of local dining-reservation start-up Chope’s tech team attended the November 2018 run of Google’s Machine-Learning Boot Camp. Besides gaining a deeper understanding of how they could maximise the services provided by the Google Cloud Platform, the Chope team also learnt to better standardise their data within the cloud platform and use it as a data warehouse. They added that the boot camp was also useful in helping them think about ways to ensure that the Chope app is able to keep up with and adopt the latest AI models within its system.
The government will continue investing in the digital economy
7 On our part, the Government remains firmly committed to helping businesses and our people translate these opportunities into tangible gains by providing the support and infrastructure that is needed to ensure that Singaporeans are well-equipped with the skills to seize the opportunities offered by the digital economy. On that score, we introduced the Digital Economy Framework for Action last year to prepare local enterprises and the workforce to capitalise on opportunities arising from the digital economy.
8 As part of our broad-based digital transformation efforts, we have rolled out 23 Industry Transformation Maps to help companies innovate and also boost their productivity. At the enterprise level, we launched last month the Start Digital initiative, and the aim there is really to ensure that enterprises, even at the get-go, are already digitally-enabled. This is to complement the other industry development programme which is “SMEs Go Digital” and to propagate the digital message across the whole spectrum of enterprises.
9 Frontier technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), offer unparalleled transformative potential. To drive AI adoption and grow our capabilities in this area, we have invested S$150 million in AI Singapore as a national programme that enhances Singapore’s AI capabilities by bringing together Singapore-based research institutions, and AI start-ups and companies. I think the key point and value proposition of this initiative is in the fact that it is working on defined problem statements – in other words, practical applications of AI. And I think that helps to enliven the technology, make it relevant, and bring it closer to industry and enterprises.
10 Our goal is for these initiatives and industry efforts to work hand-in-hand to form a thriving ecosystem of opportunities for all. Technology and digitalisation have made possible a wealth of opportunities for everyone. We believe these new digital solutions, and the collective efforts of the government, industry and various other stakeholders, will ensure our businesses more innovative and competitive.
(B) Developing talent – investing in tech talent is key to the successful digitalisation of enterprises and the economy
11 The backbone of our digitalisation efforts is tech talent who are able to sense make and apply these new digital tools. Talent and the development of tech skills are critical areas in supporting companies moving towards the digital economy. So apart from the focus on enterprises per se, our focus is also on the development of the talent that fuels the growth of the enterprise. Whether pertaining to data analytics, machine-learning or programming; sector cross-cutting skills and deep technical expertise are what will give Singaporeans and Singapore a competitive advantage.
12 In particular, professionals capable of developing and programming the software needed to support the economy are in high demand. From tech start-ups to established corporations, employers from a myriad of sectors – such as manufacturing, banking, healthcare, logistics, and retail – are all looking for developers.
13 In this aspect, the Google Developer Space will be able to provide additional development and training opportunities for our local developers, and work in tandem with government initiatives to ensure that we have a ready stream of professionals equipped with core technological skills, who also carry with them sector and operational knowledge. These initiatives include the TechSkills Accelerator programme, or TeSA, to help train and upskill those aspiring to join the ICT profession, as well as existing ICT professionals who are wanting to deepen their skillsets and move up the value chain. Through TeSA, the government will continue to work closely with partners to develop a strong pipeline of tech talent.
14 In addition to strengthening our horizontal capabilities and tech skills to support the economy’s broad spectrum of needs, we also want to develop deep skills and competencies within the industry. Having deep capabilities in technologies such as AI and machine-learning, and being able to effectively adopt and deploy them, what really set industries and businesses apart. Google’s Machine-Learning Boot Camp will complement AI Singapore’s AI Apprenticeship Programme to develop our pool of AI and machine-learning talents.
(C) Global partnerships such as this are critical to helping our enterprises and pool of local talents become world class
15 While our local companies are being groomed to be well-positioned for these opportunities, we also believe the partnerships we have with leading international companies are going to be an important part of positioning them well for the future. These partnerships will provide a foothold for our local small and medium enterprises to expand overseas and spark new opportunities for Singaporeans.
16 The Google Developer Space will make available opportunities for collaboration and sharing of ideas with regional and international tech professionals. This is something we welcome because this is not about Singapore, or Singapore working alone, or Singapore working with Google alone, it is really about working in partnership with talent from the region, and even around the world.
17 We are very keen to work closely with Google and others like you, who want to come to Singapore and work with us, not just to further your own business interests, but also, to be able to develop the infocomm media development industry and to work in collaboration with our partners in the region. I think when we put all these together, and combine them with the opportunities that we see in our part of the world, I think that will be a compelling and powerful value proposition.
18 I want to conclude by congratulating Google once again on the opening of its Developer Space, and that it is unique, and that it is the first of its kind. What you will find in Singapore is really a government that is willing to work very closely with you in the industry to build the ecosystem, challenge the boundaries of innovation, and pursue more opportunities for our people. I hope all of you will join us in this very exciting adventure.
19 Thank you.
1Mr Rick Harshman is the Managing Director, JAPAC, of Google Cloud.