Parliament Debate on ministries' budgets: Communications and Information

$50m boost for govt platform to solve tech challenges

A government crowdsourcing initiative to help the public and private sectors solve technology challenges is getting a $50 million boost over the next five years.

The funds for the Open Innovation Platform (OIP) will be used to co-fund more projects under the platform and deliver new features aimed at speeding up the process to find and develop solutions for challenges that organisations face.

The OIP, managed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), was launched in 2018 to match business challenges faced by organisations to firms that can provide info-communication tech solutions to these problems.

Providing an update on the platform yesterday during the debate on his ministry's budget, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said the OIP has over 10,000 companies that can offer tech solutions. More than 190 challenges have been launched on the platform with over 60 solutions developed.

Mr Iswaran said the Government will invest $50 million to enhance the OIP's capabilities to build on this success. "This will help more enterprises access innovative solutions and accelerate the deployment of digital innovations at scale," he said.

With the new funding, two improvements to the OIP are planned.

One is the creation of a "discovery engine" that makes the matching of tech solutions to problems easier. This is expected to be done through automated recommendations.

Another new feature is a "digital bench" aimed at speeding up the development of proofs of concept for tech solution providers. It will give them direct access to digital tools, online testing environments and community partners to help the firms develop proofs of concept.

The digital bench is expected to shorten the development of these concepts from months to weeks.

Mr Iswaran also announced a new initiative that will be launched next month to help promising local companies speed up their efforts to transform digitally.

Called the Digital Leaders Programme, it will co-fund up to 70 per cent of qualifying costs, over two years, to help companies hire and build a core digital team and execute their digitalisation strategy.

Other areas where firms can apply for funding of up to 70 per cent are developing proofs of concept for digital products and services, and engaging consultancy services to develop digital road maps.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2021, with the headline '$50m boost for govt platform to solve tech challenges'. Subscribe