More talent and effort to grow deep tech in Singapore: Heng Swee Keat

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat (centre) with (from left) SGInnovate's board member Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, founding CEO Steve Leonard, chairman Yong Ying-I and board member Jean-Luc Butel at a ceremony marking the second anniversary of SGInnovat
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat (centre) with (from left) SGInnovate's board member Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, founding CEO Steve Leonard, chairman Yong Ying-I and board member Jean-Luc Butel at a ceremony marking the second anniversary of SGInnovate on Nov 22, 2018.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - More talent and effort is needed to grow the deep tech industry in Singapore, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (Nov 22).

Mr Heng was speaking at a ceremony marking the second anniversary of SGInnovate, a company that aims to grow entrepreneurs in the sector.

It has invested in 45 start-ups, grown a 23,000-strong community focused on deep tech and holds about 100 events a year.

Mr Heng said: "Deep tech start-ups can be a powerful engine of innovation, either on their own, or in collaboration with large corporates in open innovation platforms.

"A vibrant innovation and enterprise ecosystem enables deep tech innovations to be quickly brought to market, and scaled across markets globally. Enterprises can tap on the R&D done here in Singapore, but also in other countries, to innovate and serve markets in Singapore and abroad."

The deep tech industry here has to grow by having strong collaboration between local and global stakeholders, becoming a Smart Capital and by nurturing more talent, Mr Heng added.

To this end, SGInnovate founding chief executive Steve Leonard said the organisation would be making new investments and creating apprenticeship opportunities for students.

 
 
 

It will expand its Summation Programme to students from the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Technology and Design.

This programme gives students the chance to do a three- to six month-long internship with deep tech companies. There are around 20 to 30 places in each cohort. It started its first run in March. So far, 23 students have benefited from the programme.

Around 100 students have submitted applications for the third round of the programme.

Mr Heng added that talent is key in enabling innovation: "SGInnovate seeks to create more opportunities for these talents to converge.

"With this convergence of minds, I hope many more creative ideas can be turned into innovative products and services, and deep tech start-ups from Singapore can scale and succeed in global markets."

Mr Leonard noted that the company is investing in three deep tech start-ups that are working on "difficult and important problems".

Horizon Quantum Computing is developing new generations of tools to help software engineers build quantum-enhanced applications while Involt is devising new energy storage cells to help reduce carbon usage.

Portcast is building digital solutions for the logistics industry to help companies better predict global cargo flows to price dynamically and use their assets more efficiently.

Mr Heng said: "We are on the right path, but there is always more that we can do. I look forward to seeing many more start-ups in Singapore succeed and create a positive momentum for our efforts ahead."