SINGAPORE - To help the economy recover from the severe blows of Covid-19, Singapore will keep investing in technology and innovation to safeguard its competitive edge globally and create opportunities for workers and businesses.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat made the point on Wednesday (Aug 26) when he stressed the continuing importance of science and technology (S&T) as an engine of growth.
Research, innovation and enterprise in Singapore will help to transform the economy to create more jobs for Singaporeans, added Mr Heng in the National Research Foundation's (NRF) addendum to the President's Address. He chairs the Foundation.
"We will scale up innovation platforms to drive S&T adoption across industry, and enhance the translation of research outcomes into globally competitive and marketable S&T solutions that will derive greater value for Singapore and the world."
S&T efforts have been critical in turning the tide against Covid-19 here, he noted, adding that there are more than 200 research projects under way to bolster the country's battle against the coronavirus and prepare it for future pandemics.
But even in a post-Covid-19 world, these research efforts will be crucial in helping to create new opportunities for economic growth.
The Foundation will continue to develop S&T areas in which Singapore is strong, Mr Heng said, citing advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences, sustainability and urban solutions.
New areas where S&T can help companies grow will also not be ignored, he added, noting that the Foundation initiated the Maritime Transformation Programme and the Aviation Transformation Programme to advance Singapore's position as a maritime and aviation hub.
Efforts like these leverage on cutting-edge technologies that will allow Singapore to remain a critical transport and logistics node whose resilience and reliability will be more valued when Covid-19 scourge is overcome, said Mr Heng.
The Foundation's agenda also includes plans to keep on building a base of capable scientists and engineers in Singapore, with strong links to global communities, plus encourage more young Singaporeans to pursue careers built around S&T to spur more innovation.
SUPPORTING INNOVATION WITH TOP INFRASTRUCTURE
In the same vein, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said Singapore's innovation efforts will be powered by its investments in world-class infrastructure as well as research and development (R&D).
The country's high degree of connectivity, lauded as one of its strengths internationally, will be further improved with the development of 5G in the country, said Mr Iswaran, whose ministry also released its addendum on Wednesday.
"We are building a secure and resilient 5G communications network, which will provide the foundation for innovative applications and services. We will grow indigenous capabilities in technologies that drive value creation."
His ministry also plans to collaborate with academia and industry partners to deepen Singapore's R&D and translation capabilities, particularly in such fields as artificial intelligence, cyber security, media, and communications technology.
Investing in technology and innovation is already bearing fruit, as Singapore is widely regarded as one of the top fintech hubs in the world.
Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Wednesday that an estimated 1,000 fintech firms are now based in Singapore, following five years of investment in digital transformation and innovation of the financial sector.
Mr Tharman, who is the Minister-in-charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said in its addendum on Wednesday that it will drive progress on electronic payments and digital banking.
MAS will also work with the financial services and fintech sectors to adopt digital solutions that will strengthen operational resilience, improve productivity, better manage risks and engage customers.
"Achieving a high degree of digitalisation will be a key source of competitive advantage for our financial sector in the future," Mr Tharman said.