Mr Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive of IMDA, 
Ms Tan Li San, Chief Executive of the National Council of Social Services,
Mr Wong Wai Meng, Chairman of SGTech, 
Industry Partners, 
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Introduction

1. A very good afternoon to all of you. I am happy to join you at this year’s Techblazer Awards ceremony, to recognise and celebrate our nation’s best in technology and innovation.  

2. The past year has been nothing short of extraordinary. While we have always emphasised the importance of innovation, COVID-19 has given it renewed impetus. Innovation has been crucial in enabling businesses, governments and societies overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, and will be central in helping us thrive in the post-pandemic world.  

3. It is therefore fitting that we celebrate today the trailblazers who exemplify  that very spirit of innovation.    Your achievements affirm that innovation continues to thrive in Singapore, even amidst these difficult circumstances.  In fact, IMDA and SGTech received over 400 submissions for the Techblazer Awards this year, well surpassing the 300 received last year.

Continuing to push the boundaries of technological innovation to seize new growth opportunities

4. This year’s Awards showcase an impressive range of ideas and applications, with finalists from many different sectors.  And that is how it should be; we want to be able to galvanise the breadth and depth of our economy in this important endeavour. All businesses – regardless of size or industry – can and should harness technological innovation both to address immediate challenges, and to seize new opportunities.  

5. For example, in the field of biomedical sciences, Singapore-based Hummingbird Bioscience is creating a new generation of platforms to deliver transformative medicines. It developed a Rational Antibody Discovery (RAD) platform by combining principles of systems biology with data science and AI technology. The platform predicts how and where to target drug treatments within biological systems to derive the best outcomes. This is a powerful approach to deliver new treatment to patients, especially for those who do not respond to current treatment. It has great potential in the management of hard-to-treat conditions such as cancer and autoimmunity, as well as infectious diseases like COVID-19. 

6. Our SMEs have also proven to be highly adept at leveraging technology to achieve productivity gains. For instance, cleaning service provider Hong Ye Group developed the Smart iClean app, which enables clients to monitor the cleanliness of multiple sites, as well as manage the deployment of cleaners and other ad-hoc tasks within a single platform. The app generated significant efficiency gains and cost savings for Hong Ye and its clients, at a crucial time when facilities are being held to higher and more stringent standards of cleanliness and hygiene.

Tremendous potential to leverage technology for social good

7. The impact of innovation extends beyond business and enterprise to the social domain. There is much scope to use technology to solve problems, improve lives and benefit society. 

8. For example, Siddharth Mazumdar, from St Andrew’s Junior College, engineered an AI-powered device called Newton’s Meter, which automatically sends S.O.S messages upon impact in an accident or mishap. The application has a wide range of potential users - from drivers and cyclists to the elderly – and can even be deployed at workplaces to improve workplace safety. It is noteworthy that Siddharth is from the “Student Techblazer” category, which recognises the next generation of promising innovators from our junior colleges, polytechnics and universities. I would like to encourage more young Singaporeans to follow in Siddharth’s footsteps by taking on new challenges, expanding your imagination and breaking new ground with your energy and ideas. 

9. Today, we also commend organisations that have taken the first steps in their innovation journeys. One example is the Association for Persons with Special Needs, or APSN, for its use of a Mixed Reality Living Room to provide a virtual learning environment for students. The Mixed Reality Living Room re-creates a typical HDB living or dining room in a physical setting, and combines this with an ICT-enhanced virtual environment that is both immersive and interactive. It has been designed with the Special Education framework of Living, Learning and Working in mind, leveraging technology to provide a safe and authentic learning environment. It enables APSN students to experience and practise life skills in the virtual setting, before applying what they have learnt in the real world. I am glad to hear that there have been positive outcomes, with students showing improvements in lesson engagement, as well as in their community safety knowledge. 

The Government remains committed to partnering our stakeholders to grow a vibrant innovation ecosystem       

10. So there is a wide spectrum of applications in the innovations that we have seen from the social to the economic to individuals to enterprises. And the key is to ensure that we continue to nurture a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Singapore. And key to that ecosystem that is conducive for innovation is close collaboration between the Government and stakeholders in the industry and research communities. Just last month, the Government committed to invest S$25 billion to support our Research, Innovation and Enterprise, or RIE 2025 plan. IMDA has also set up several innovation facilities such as PIXEL, the 5G Living Lab and various other prototyping labs. Through these initiatives, we hope to bring innovations to market more quickly, by connecting researchers and innovators to end users.

11. To advance these efforts, I am happy to announce that the IMDA will launch the Tech Acceleration Lab. The Lab enables Singapore-based technology companies and startups to accelerate their proof-of-concept projects in partnership with Government agencies. It provides a sandbox environment anchored on the Government’s cloud infrastructure, and offers advisory workshops on the Government’s security and deployment requirements. Through the Lab, we hope to seed partnerships to achieve win-win outcomes. Government agencies will gain access to the latest technology and innovations to improve citizens’ lives.  At the same time, technology companies and startups will be better attuned to the Government’s needs and requirements, and have the opportunity to demonstrate their core capabilities to Government buyers.  

12. IMDA will also launch a new batch of Open Innovation challenges through the Open Innovation Platform. While innovation facilities such as the Tech Acceleration Lab provide testing environments to bring innovation to market rapidly, the OIP focuses on uncovering problem statements by companies and matching them to the right tech solution providers at scale. Over the years, the OIP has grown into a vibrant ecosystem with over 10,000 registered users, hosting more than 180 challenges.  IMDA will share more details on the latest round of challenges soon. 

13. I encourage everyone to participate in these new initiatives, and look forward to seeing more innovative tech and digital solutions being developed in Singapore.
 
14. I would also like to thank SGTech for working with us to discover our Techblazers. With your extensive networks within the tech community, you are both an advocate for the industry, and an amplifier for the Government’s initiatives. Together, I believe we can nurture and sustain a vibrant innovation ecosystem to unlock new opportunities in the next bound of growth for Singapore.

15. Once again, heartiest congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Awards and I wish you every success in your endeavours. 

16. Thank you.


PDF version of the speech 
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