SFF x Switch 2020

New $12m programme to strengthen Singapore's blockchain ecosystem

The Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme will engage close to 75 companies to conceptualise 17 blockchain-related projects.
The Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme will engage close to 75 companies to conceptualise 17 blockchain-related projects.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A $12 million programme has been launched to strengthen Singapore's blockchain ecosystem and facilitate the development, commercialisation and adoption of blockchain technology for real-world applications.

The Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme will engage close to 75 companies including multinational corporations, large enterprises and info-communications technology companies, to conceptualise 17 blockchain-related projects within the next three years in sectors such as trade and logistics.

It was launched jointly by Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) on Monday (Dec 7). The programme is funded by NRF.

Beyond research translation into real-world needs, the programme will look at enabling the adoption of blockchain in environments with high transaction rates and growing the blockchain tech talent pool.

ESG chairman Peter Ong said: "Covid-19 emphasised the need for trusted and reliable business systems in the new digital world."

Blockchain technology helps to "embed trust in applications" spanning logistics and supply chains, trade financing and digital identities and credentials.

"The acceleration of innovative business solutions under the Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme will help our enterprises be more globally connected and competitive," he added.

Mr Lew Chuen Hong, chief executive of IMDA, said the programme looks to encourage blockchain adoption in more industries beyond finance, which includes scaling up industry manpower and know-how.

"These efforts allow Singapore to build a strong blockchain ecosystem and establish our role as a trust hub," he said.

The Singapore Blockchain Ecosystem Report 2020, released on Monday at the Singapore Fintech Festival and Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SFF x Switch), spotlighted Singapore as a key hub for blockchain research and commercialisation.

It also showcased how the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the application of blockchain technology, which is being used to verify health credentials.

The country has produced the highest number of blockchain-related research publications in South-east Asia – 162 blockchain-related publications over the last 15 years – which is about 2.25 per cent of all research publications and 15th in the world.

The report was co-presented by blockchain industry partners OpenNodes, Temasek, IBM, PwC Singapore, EY and SGTech, and supported by IMDA and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Strong interest in innovation projects

In a separate release from ESG, IMDA and NRF on Monday, the three agencies said small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups have submitted more than 300 proposals across 16 National Innovation Challenges problem statements since July this year, demonstrating their strong interest to solve these issues and enable digital transformation.

The National Innovation Challenges were announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in May and aim to accelerate innovation efforts and help enterprises develop solutions to overcome challenges in the post-Covid-19 world. Some $40 million has been dedicated to the challenges to ramp up the development and adoption of solutions.

Several projects are on track for industry adoption in 2021, and four prototyping projects from the first batch of challenges launched in July are being tested.

A new challenge seeking to address the sustainable and automated segregation, disposal and treatment of food waste was launched on Monday.

It aims to help Singapore achieve its goals under the Zero Waste Masterplan and is led by the National Environment Agency and ESG, along with JTC and several corporates such as Changi Airport Group.