Two new programmes to ramp up technological talent in Singapore

One new initiative is a polytechnic incubator launched at Block 71, at Buona Vista's one-north research hub on Monday (Sept 18), named Pollinate.
One new initiative is a polytechnic incubator launched at Block 71, at Buona Vista's one-north research hub on Monday (Sept 18), named Pollinate. PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - The Government is ramping up efforts to boost technological entrepreneurship through two new programmes.

This includes an incubator supporting start-ups from polytechnic students and alumni, as well as a 10-week programme for research scientists and engineers.

Giving the opening address of the second Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (Switch), Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Monday (Sept 18) that the Government will continue to develop technopreneurial talent.

"Innovation is driven by people," he said at the start of the three-day conference at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

"Even as we bolster institutional support, we will continue to actively develop technopreneurial talent to drive innovation and enterprise."

One new initiative is a polytechnic incubator launched at Block 71, at Buona Vista's one-north research hub on Monday, named Pollinate.

Run by Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic, the incubator will help start-ups to commercialise their products and expand their markets. The National Research Foundation (NRF) will be supporting it with a $1 million fund over three years.

Another programme, the National Lean LaunchPad, is a 10-week programme for scientists and engineers from local universities and polytechnics.

It aims to teach them how to market their academic research into usable, commercial prototypes or products, through guidance by experienced industry mentors and entrepreneurs.

"By pushing researchers to get out of the lab and talk to potential users and customers, they will better understand users' needs and think from customers' perspective," said NUS Entrepreneurship Centre director Professor Wong Poh Kam, adding that doing so will let them have a better chance of commercialising their inventions.

The NRF is pumping $8 million over five years to support this effort, which aims to train more than 1,000 participants, and create 300 technologies which can be commercialised.

Mr Heng also announced that more than $16 million will be invested into new cyber-security projects to strengthen Singapore's cyber-security research and development, under two separate programmes.

Nine research projects were granted funding of $15.6 million under a grant call by the National Cybersecurity R&D Programme, which was set up in November 2016 to develop capabilities to meet Singapore's cyber-security needs. The funds were given to research focusing on three key cyber-security priorities: national security, critical infrastructure and Smart Nation.

Another $600,000 was awarded to six projects under a seed grant call by the Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium, which was launched in September 2016. The funding goes to proposals for proof-of-concepts of new cyber-security technologies and ideas.

Mr Heng, who is the NRF's deputy chairman, also announced a new tie-up between the agency and Temasek Holdings, which will work on commercial entities to build and invest in technology start-ups here.

In addition, the Government will make it easier and faster for public agencies to commercialise the works produced by start-ups through a new intellectual property (IP) framework.

A new National IP Protocol will be launched to simplify and standardise the access to IP generated by public-funded research and development, which would allow such products to be pushed out to the market more quickly.