First batch of firms to set up shop at Punggol digital hub

Four global companies in new digital district expected to create about 2,000 tech jobs

The drivers of Singapore's next phase of growth are falling in place, with the first batch of global companies confirming plans to set up base at Punggol Digital District.

As it gears up for the digital economy to power its growth, the Republic is positioning the upcoming digital district as the location of choice for technology companies.

Speaking at an event at the Punggol Digital District site office, which was also streamed virtually, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong shared that the first four companies to set up shop in the new hub are expected to create about 2,000 new tech jobs, ranging from data analysts to fraud hunters and blockchain developers.

The minister, who is one of the co-chairs of the multi-ministry task force dealing with Covid-19, pointed out that the pandemic has led to technological disruption of conventional business models and remote working trends.

But it has also created new opportunities, he noted.

"The digital economy can potentially fuel the next lap of economic growth," he said, citing a report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company that said the digital market in South-east Asia is expected to triple by 2025 to reach US$300 billion (S$408 billion).

"Singapore must position ourselves optimally to make the most of these developments. To get there, we need to be prepared to disrupt the traditional way of doing things. With the support of Government and businesses, we can make the necessary transition," the minister added.

The Punggol Digital District has been earmarked to play a key role in bringing together industry players, academics and tech talent.

Yesterday, Mr Gan announced that the first four companies that will start the buzz there will be Delta Electronics Int'l (Singapore), which specialises in smart living solutions, robotics design company Boston Dynamics, cyber-security services provider Group-IB and Wanxiang, which offers blockchain solutions.

"Each of these companies brings different expertise to the mix," said Mr Gan.

The masterplan for the 50ha Punggol Digital District was announced in 2018. The district will progressively open from 2024.

When it is fully developed, it should generate some 28,000 digital economy jobs.

The Singapore Institute of Technology's (SIT) new campus, which will serve more than 10,000 students and 500 academic staff, will be located in the district.

JTC Corporation said this means that businesses will have easy access to talent from SIT, while students will also benefit from an applied learning environment.

The district will also serve as a living lab for companies, students and the public to test digital and smart living solutions.

For example, Group-IB - a partner of Interpol and Europol - will collaborate with SIT to design and engineer a virtual testing environment suitable for early-stage companies and start-ups to test the vulnerability of their solutions to cyber attacks.

The virtual system will have the ability to stress-test systems against cyber threats.

The Punggol Digital District was envisioned to be a smart and sustainable mixed-use district. The masterplan by JTC is in line with Singapore's Smart Nation and digital economy plans.

JTC chief executive Tan Boon Khai said the four companies will strengthen collaboration and provide partnerships necessary for fostering innovation.

"These companies will be vital in helping nurture next-generation digital talent, while building skill sets for mid-career professionals, in turn creating good job opportunities for Singaporeans."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2021, with the headline First batch of firms to set up shop at Punggol digital hub. Subscribe