S'pore, Chongqing firms boost digital tie-ups

9 agreements signed in areas such as trade and logistics, manufacturing and healthcare

Nine agreements were inked between Singapore and Chongqing businesses yesterday to further cross-border digital collaborations in a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, trade and logistics, and healthcare.

These reflect the "solid foundation" laid over the past five years that has helped to catalyse collaborations and innovation between Singapore and Chongqing companies, said Mr Lew Chuen Hong, chief executive of Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

"By leveraging on Chongqing's strengths as the advanced manufacturing and logistics hub for China and Singapore as a trade and financing hub for South-east Asia, I am certain our collaborations will result in many significant projects for the region," he said at the International Dedicated Connectivity forum, held as part of the Smart China Expo 2021.

One agreement that was signed yesterday was between Singapore start-up EyRIS and Beijing's Aurora International, which will co-develop an artificial intelligence (AI) screening system for retinal diseases faced by an ageing population.

EyRIS chief executive Lai Teik Kin said: "This newest venture affords EyRIS the opportunity to join the fight in preventing blindness caused by diabetes in China."

He added that in the long term, future lines of products can be introduced which may include the detection of other eye conditions and possibly even other systemic diseases, using AI.

Mr Lew noted that a range of measures also help to support partnerships between Singapore and Chongqing firms.

For instance, the China-Singapore (Chongqing) International Dedicated Connectivity is one of the key projects for Singapore-China collaboration. It was launched in 2019 as the first point-to-point Internet connectivity between China and a foreign country.

This connection enables companies in Asean to better provide digital services in the western China market via the connection through Singapore, and vice versa, he said.

"Some of the sectors that stand to benefit would be those ranging from media, to videoconferencing, education and healthcare."

Another initiative is the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Joint Innovation Development Fund, which was launched in 2019 by IMDA, Enterprise Singapore and the Chongqing Application Development Administration Bureau with 40 million yuan (S$8.4 million).

It aims to promote the joint development of innovative products and solutions by providing a fund to support projects that can bring about substantial economic benefits.

The fund has supported close to 20 projects to date, IMDA said.

Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said at the opening ceremony of the Smart China Expo: "Besides improving the delivery of services, digitalisation can also facilitate the trade of physical goods."

Last month, Singapore launched a common data infrastructure for the supply chain ecosystem.

"Trade data can now be exchanged easily in a secure environment, improving visibility and operational efficiency, and allowing for innovative financial solutions to be developed," Mrs Teo said.

"The possibilities offered by the digital revolution are cross-cutting and limited only by our imagination," she added.

"But for vision to become reality, we will need the collective efforts of individuals, companies and governments. Only by working together can we fully unlock the potential of digital technologies."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2021, with the headline 'S'pore, Chongqing firms boost digital tie-ups'. Subscribe