Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Let me extend a very warm welcome to all of you to Innovfest Unbound 2019. It is clearly a very exciting conference and it brings together multinational corporations, growth enterprises, SMEs, and also investors and brand partners from all over the world. We seek, through this event, to spark, catalyse digital transformations that ultimately lead to real value propositions and of benefit to the economy and to society.

2. The is the kind of metamorphosis that we aim to spark at Innovfest Unbound 2019.  I am delighted to welcome all of you to this exciting conference which gathers together large MNCs, budding SMEs, investors and brand partners from all over the world.  

3. Today, we find ourselves at the heart of change in the Digital Economy. Edge computing, cloud-based AI services, Augmented Reality, 5G technology - these innovations bring new challenges and also opportunities that were absent less than a decade ago.  For example, if you compare Fortune 100 companies in 2008 and 2018, 43 of these companies were new entrants.  Even as we seek to adapt and seize new opportunities, there is also an air of uncertainty as companies deal with the disruptions caused by technological advancements.   

4. How then do we deal with this technological disruption and uncertainty?  In Singapore, our response has been to resolutely forge ahead with the digital transformation of our economy, working closely with industries, enterprises and our people in this important transition.  

5. Today, I would like to share with you three aspects of the work that we are doing that I believe are critical in supporting this drive forward.  Firstly, we need to leverage 5G as a key digital infrastructure of tomorrow.  Second, we need to embed digital transformation at the core of communities.  Third, we need to develop progressive legislation to enhance trust and catalyse innovation.

Leveraging 5G as a key digital infrastructure of tomorrow

6. A world-class digital infrastructure is the backbone of the Digital Economy and Singapore has invested heavily to ensure that our digital infrastructure is fit-for-purpose and future-ready.   This includes fully transitioning to Digital TV at the start of the year and ensuring that our nationwide broadband network provides high speed Fibre-to-Everywhere connectivity. 

7. Now everyone is talking about 5G.  At the Mobile World Congress this year in Barcelona, 5G was the overwhelming preoccupation of the global tech community, from device manufacturers and telcos, to equipment providers and chipset manufacturers. 

8. Today, I would like to share how Singapore has embarked on its 5G journey.  In particular, I would like to highlight our efforts to tap on the promise of 5G, and to be a global node for innovation in secure 5G applications and services.

9. Work has already begun.  IMDA has waived frequency fees for 5G trials in Singapore since 2017 and our telcos have participated actively in these trials.  We also launched a public consultation in May on the governance framework for 5G, including the approach to allocate spectrum.  Our aim is to facilitate the deployment of Standalone 5G networks to tap into the potential of the technology.

10. Still, we cannot be content with merely building systems and networks.  A thriving 5G ecosystem requires an environment that is conducive to innovation in developing cutting edge use-cases, as well as open testbeds to enable ecosystem sharing and capability development.

11. We have identified six strategic clusters which we believe will generate the most value for Singapore and have the greatest exportability potential for the global ecosystem – maritime operations; urban mobility; smart estates; Industry 4.0; Government applications; and consumer applications.

12. We aim to be at the global forefront in exporting innovative and impactful use-cases in these clusters.  To achieve this, as a start, the Government is leading the way by setting aside $40m to grow the 5G ecosystem in Singapore.  Among other things, this sum will be used to develop future-ready test-bedding opportunities where industry use-cases can be deployed, refined and exported.

13. This includes setting up a PIXEL 5G Lab in One-North as a living testbed for companies to experiment with and trial 5G use-cases in a supportive regulatory environment, particularly in the areas of immersive media and electronic gaming.  The PIXEL Lab is slated to be ready by the first half of next year. 

14. Let me share some further examples of the exciting possibilities in the specific clusters.    In March this year, in the maritime sector, IMDA partnered PSA to launch a Tech Call for 5G in Smart Port operations, which will allow our ports to trial cutting-edge technology in areas such as remote crane operations, tele-operations of port equipment and automated ground vehicle port navigation.  I am pleased to announce that IMDA will be awarding the Tech Call to Singtel and M1 to pioneer efforts in this space.

15. For Industry 4.0, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singtel and JTC have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop advanced manufacturing solutions at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre at Jurong Innovation District.  Businesses can explore how 5G can be combined with digital technologies such as the Internet of Things, or IoT, Artificial Intelligence and robotics to create innovative solutions, including using 5G and IoT to track the location of automated guided vehicles on factory floors.  They will work with companies such as National Instruments and Hexagon in ARTC to develop these solutions.

16. These are exciting developments.  But this is only the beginning as we forge ahead in the digital economy by leveraging the potential of 5G – a key digital infrastructure of tomorrow.

Embedding digital transformation at the core of communities

17. Nonetheless, while digital infrastructure provides the backbone of our digital economy, we also need to embed digital transformation at the very core of our communities – the urban centres in which people live, work and play. 

18. Cities are where technology, businesses and people intersect.  As cities become denser as a result of rapid urbanisation, there are opportunities – and indeed an obligation – to transform them for the better through technology, be it in building design and maintenance, urban mobility, or estate security.

19. Globally, there is increasing recognition of these opportunities.  IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Smart Cities Spending Guide forecasts that worldwide spending on smart cities will reach $95.8b this year, with the Asia-Pacific region contributing 40% of this spending.

20. We understand the significance of Smart Estates in transforming the lives of our citizens.  That is why the Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab, the first developer-led lab in Southeast Asia, was announced last month to foster a smart estate ecosystem by providing a platform for industry players to share problem statements and partner one another to co-develop new and innovative solutions.

21. That is but one part of our broader Smart Estates Initiative Strategy.  Beyond building ecosystems, we need to build technology and innovation capabilities in solution providers and build talent to drive smart estate innovation.  IMDA plans to develop such capabilities through industry tech calls, which will facilitate the industry’s work on cutting-edge upcoming urban solutions. 

22. In partnership with Ascendas-Singbridge and JTC, IMDA has just concluded the first wave of a Smart Estates Call for Innovative Solutions, launched in Nov 2018.  I am pleased to announce that we will be awarding up to $1.5m in total to eight successful project proposals. 

23. One of these projects is called “3D Digital Twin”.  It is a 3D Visual Intelligence Centre where users can view, manage and analyse different types of estate information flows (from CCTVs, heating, ventilation for example) on a single platform from any device.  Think of a mobile smart estate virtual command centre.

24. The other seven projects span a range of use-cases, from smart parking, unmanned retail stores, to greenery upkeep technology.  Their common goal is to transform our built environment spaces to be more efficient in resource management and more liveable in terms of quality of life. 

25. IMDA is launching a second tranche of Calls, in partnership with HDB and Frasers.  This second wave will not only involve commercial buildings but also residential estates.  I would like to encourage all interested parties to participate in this tech call.  

Developing progressive legislation to enhance trust and catalyse innovation

26. But programmes and policies are one limb in the innovation equation.  The birth of new technologies such as Distributed Ledger Technology and Smart Contracts are opening up new ways of transacting today.  Businesses are also digitalising and innovating, changing how businesses and consumers interact and transact with one another.  We need to ensure that we have progressive legislation and regulations to foster business innovation and a trusted environment for these transactions on various digital platforms, that allows us to reap the full benefits.

27. Singapore recognises this.  This is why we have worked towards rules and regulations which enable innovation while protecting the interests of all stakeholders.  We have been doing this through new legislation such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Payment Services Act, frameworks such as IMDA’s AI Governance Framework, and international efforts such as in championing the ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance.

28. That is also why IMDA is launching a public consultation on reviewing the Electronic Transactions Act, or the ETA.  The review aims to facilitate electronic transactions to a greater degree, by fostering a more trusted environment where businesses and consumers can transact electronically with greater peace of mind.

29. One key part of our ETA review is to bring more transactions into the ambit of the ETA, including property transactions, powers of attorney and negotiable instruments such as bills of lading.  This will provide legal certainty to these electronic transactions.  To take property transactions as an example, 70% of residential property transactions in Singapore are still being done via hard copy.  By digitalising property transactions, businesses and citizens will enjoy shorter transaction periods and spend less time on paperwork and queuing up.

30. We also will enact a legislative framework for Electronic Transferable Records, or ETRs, so that it is interoperable with the global electronic trade framework.  ETRs speed up and enhance the security of cross-border electronic commerce, and enable digital innovations such as the digitalisation of trade documents such as bills of lading which are documents which acknowledge receipt of cargo for shipment.  This will revolutionise sectors such as shipping, which now rely mainly on paper bills of lading.  This will reduce costs associated with printing, handling and transportation of hundreds of pages of paper documentation.  It is estimated that trade document processing and administration can add up to 20% to the cost of shipping a single container.  Digitalising the process increases efficiency, reduces cost, and supports new service offerings though inter-operability, visibility and control.

31. I encourage the industry to participate actively in this consultation and contribute your ideas and suggestions.  


32. Today, I have shared with you three aspects of our efforts in Singapore which are critical for us in navigating in the Digital Economy.  To succeed in these and many other of our digital initiatives, it is essential that citizens, industry, and Government work together in common cause. 

33. Amidst the current uncertainties and challenges, such mutually-beneficial partnerships and exchanges are needed more than ever.  This gathering at IU 2019 is testament to that spirit of collaboration, which I believe will be carried forward in the programmes and events over the next two days.  I invite all of you to partner us in this journey to build a trusted environment where barriers are removed and innovation can flourish, to enable our businesses, citizens and Government to fully realise the benefits of a digital economy.

34. I wish you a productive Innovest Unbound 2019.  Thank you.  

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