Speech by Minister Josephine Teo at Launch of Circles Life Circles X R&D Centre
Good afternoon Circles.Life Co-Founders, Mr Rameez Ansar and Mr Adeel Najam,
My Cabinet Colleague, Dr Janil and friends,
1. I am delighted to join you today at the launch of Circles.Life’s Circles-X R&D Centre in Singapore.
The Importance of Research and Innovation in Creating New Economic Opportunities
2. Bob Iger, the former CEO of Disney, once said: “The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.”
3. In a relentlessly-changing world, those who stay still soon become laggards.
4. This is the era of hyper-innovation; and we must continually strive to keep up to remain relevant.
5. Innovators such as yourselves stand a better chance to be well-positioned to seize opportunities and overcome challenges.
6. This is why the Singapore Government is committed to ensuring that Singapore remains a great place for innovation.
a. Two years ago, we launched the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 Plan.
b. 25 billion dollars, or roughly one percent of our GDP, was committed to support research, innovation and enterprise, over five years.
c. Part of this is being used to support R&D in digital technologies with strong transformative potential, such as in the areas of communications and connectivity, AI, cybersecurity, trust technologies, and quantum computing.
7. Specific to the telco sector, we also have the Future Communications R&D Programme, to support multidisciplinary research efforts in future communications technologies.
Anchoring Digital innovations here gives Singapore the potential to make waves worldwide
8. With these strategic investments in R&D, our ambition is to:
a. attract more cutting-edge tech companies to Singapore, to anchor their product innovation and development activities.
b. We hope to see them create novel projects with global impact,
c. and generate exciting new career opportunities for our people.
9. We very much welcome Circles.Life as one such company, seeking to anchor innovation here while making waves internationally.
a. It is exciting to witness your B2B-focused Circles-X operating system (CXOS) being developed right here in Singapore,
b. More so when it has seen some prominent usage overseas.
c. For example, as far as I am aware, last year, Circles-X helped KDDI, a Japanese telco, launch a new digital brand - a mass customisation service called Povo2.0.
i. Povo2.0 enables subscribers to mix-and-match various components of their telco plans, such as data, voice, and content,
ii. And change their plans from month to month, according to their needs.
iii. So it speaks to your focus on the customer experience in the telco industry
d. Circles-X performs the critical function being the underlying technology stack:
i. that enables povo2.0 to offer such bespoke and flexible plans,
ii. at a lower operating cost.
e. It also offers a suite of value-added services, such as AI-based tools to improve customer satisfaction.
10. Such innovations are why we also welcome your plans to expand your R&D footprint here.
11. Several agencies - IMDA, EDB and ESG – have been part of the support infrastructure to help you grow:
a. And you acknowledged that you first started out from a start-up with three founders in a small room with no windows,
b. to now becoming a telco brand operating in five countries, with over 265 staff members based in your R&D Centre in Singapore.
12. With the launch of your new R&D Centre, you will:
a. create an additional 120 ICT-related jobs here, with a Singaporean core.
b. I am also glad you intend to develop solutions to help local enterprises realise their own business potential, as they harness next-generation communications technologies.
Government’s Role in Fostering Conducive Environment for Innovation
13. Beyond our investments in R&D, the Government is committed to fostering the right conditions for innovation to flourish in Singapore. How will we do so?
14. First, we will invest to further build up our digital infrastructure.
a. In last week’s Budget Speech, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong touched on the ways that we have been planning ahead for next bound of digital infrastructure, such as in broadband and 6G.
b. We will ensure that our infrastructure is secure, resilient and future-ready, to support the proliferation of innovative new products and services. Within MCI, Dr Janil is very focused on this.
15. Second, we must ensure that our regulatory environment remains pro-business and pro-innovation, yet provide sufficient safeguards to users.
a. For example, our personal data protection laws strike a careful balance,
i. enabling data innovation and data sharing,
ii. while ensuring high standards of protection for the personal data of individual consumers.
16. Third and equally important, we will help companies gain access to the right talents.
a. For instance, since 2016, we have emplaced 12,000 individuals in ICT roles through our TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) Programme.
b. In fact, many of Circles.Life’s Singaporean employees were supported by IMDA’s talent initiatives, including the SG:D scholarships or the Company-Led Training programmes.
c. We will be expanding TeSA to create even more opportunities for Singaporean talents to participate in our tech ecosystem, and will share more about these efforts during the Committee of Supply debates.
d. But I should add - the real strength of Singapore is to combine the best of Singaporean core and what the world has to offer, so that we can complement all these skills and talent, and help our companies succeed the best way possible, as Team Singapore.
17. The industry – traditional telcos and Mobile Virtual Network Operators alike - must also actively do your part.
a. You need to build not just the infrastructure and capabilities, but public trust and confidence, by providing innovative and secure solutions.
b. From time to time, you will also need to refresh your approaches to nurturing talents.
c. In that regard, I am glad that Circles.Life already has your own Circles Academy, an in-house programme to train software engineers.
d. Not only do these efforts meet your own needs, they will also enrich the pool of talents in Singapore that all our businesses can draw upon.
18. To conclude, let me once again congratulate Circles.Life for making Singapore the home of your Circles-X R&D Centre.
19. I wish you much more success ahead!