Iswaran calls for joint efforts in digital economy

From left: Google Cloud Asia-Pacific managing director Rick Harshman and Google's programme manager for developer ecosystem, South-east Asia, Sami Kizilbash with Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran on a tour of Developer Space @ Google
From left: Google Cloud Asia-Pacific managing director Rick Harshman and Google's programme manager for developer ecosystem, South-east Asia, Sami Kizilbash with Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran on a tour of Developer Space @ Google yesterday.PHOTO: GOOGLE

Government and firms must work together to form thriving ecosystem of opportunities for all, he says

By providing support and infrastructure, the Government is committed to helping workers and businesses here seize opportunities offered by the digital economy, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.

But he also said national efforts - such as the 23 Industry Transformation Maps and the $150 million set aside for AI Singapore, the national programme that enhances the country's artificial intelligence capabilities - have to work in tandem with efforts from companies.

Speaking at the launch of a developer space by tech giant Google in Singapore yesterday, Mr Iswaran said: "Our goal is for these initiatives and industry efforts to work hand in hand to form a thriving ecosystem of opportunities for all.

"Technology and digitalisation have made possible a wealth of opportunities for everyone. And we believe that these new digital solutions, and the collective efforts of the Government, the industry and various other stakeholders, will help ensure that our businesses are more competitive and innovative."

The space, called Developer Space @ Google, is the company's first physical space dedicated to developers that sits inside a Google office.

The 7,200 sq ft area is located at Block 80 of the Mapletree Business City in Pasir Panjang and will allow Google to run programmes for and with the developer community.

One such programme is Google's four-day Machine-Learning Boot Camp, where professional developers, be they working in start-ups or established enterprises, can learn and gain expertise in Google machine-learning technology such as TensorFlow, Google Cloud Platform Machine Learning and BigQuery.

 
 

Mr Iswaran said four members of local dining-reservation start-up Chope's tech team attended this programme in November last year.

He said that besides learning how to maximise the services provided by the Google Cloud Platform, the Chope team learnt to better standardise its data within the cloud platform and use it as a data warehouse.

The Machine-Learning Boot Camp also helped them think about how to ensure the Chope app is able to keep up with and adopt the latest AI models within its system.

The Developer Space @ Google will house community events such as the annual Google Developer Festival, which will aim to build up local developers' capabilities and their knowledge of the latest technologies and technological trends.

Said Mr Iswaran: "Complementing the efforts of the Government, contributions and investments from the industry such as Google have been very important in bolstering our economic growth and our efforts to develop new industry segments.

Partnerships with global giants vital

"These investments and these initiatives, they bring with them the talent, the resources and the capabilities that are essential for our industries, and also because they help to spark growth across the entire economy, cutting across different verticals."

In his speech, he highlighted how partnerships with international heavyweights such as Google are critical in helping Singapore businesses and workers become relevant internationally.

  • DEVELOPER SPACE @ GOOGLE

  • Area : 7,200 sq ft

    Location : Block 80, Mapletree Business City in Pasir Panjang

    Aim : Bring together resources to help South-east Asian developers, entrepreneurs and community groups grow and network

He said the Developer Space @ Google will make available opportunities for collaboration and sharing of ideas with regional and international tech professionals, as well as bring together a network of top-notch tech specialists whom local talent can learn from.

When local businesses and talent mingle and learn from such leading international companies, they can become more innovative and competitive, and compete with the best from around the world, he added.

"While our companies are being groomed to be well positioned for these opportunities, we also believe the partnerships that they have with leading international companies are going to be an important part of positioning them well for the future," said Mr Iswaran.

"And so these partnerships, and others like it, will provide a foothold for our local small and medium enterprises to expand overseas and spark new opportunities for Singaporeans."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2019, with the headline 'Iswaran calls for joint efforts in digital economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe