Industry-led groups working to spur growth in seven key areas

Visitors were tested for Covid-19 on the spot before they were allowed into the Singapore International Energy Week conference, which was held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre last month. The Alliance for Action for smart commerce is looking into
Visitors were tested for Covid-19 on the spot before they were allowed into the Singapore International Energy Week conference, which was held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre last month.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Visitors were tested for Covid-19 on the spot before they were allowed into the Singapore International Energy Week conference, which was held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre last month. The Alliance for Action for smart commerce is looking into
The Alliance for Action for smart commerce is looking into blending online and offline shopping experiences – delivering the personalised approach shoppers want, while helping traditional retailers expand their reach. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
Visitors were tested for Covid-19 on the spot before they were allowed into the Singapore International Energy Week conference, which was held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre last month. The Alliance for Action for smart commerce is looking into
One of the Alliances for Action is bringing together developers, construction firms and other players to transform the construction and built environment sector through digitalisation and more advanced building technologies.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Visitors were tested for Covid-19 on the spot before they were allowed into the Singapore International Energy Week conference, which was held at Sands Expo and Convention Centre last month. The Alliance for Action for smart commerce is looking into
A LionsBot cleaning robot at HDB Hub. The Alliance for Action on robotics is leading pilots to develop and test robotics solutions in public land transport and in the area of cleaning.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The gradual resumption of events in the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) sector, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, is among seven areas being studied by industry-led coalition groups that were set up in June.

The Alliance for Action (AfA) team that has been tasked with bringing back travellers aims to take steps to re-establish Singapore as a leading destination for such events. It also aims to maintain the country's position as one of the top 10 cities in the world according to international visitor traffic.

This group is among seven industry-led alliances convened by the Emerging Stronger Taskforce to work closely with the Government and act on key growth opportunities. The others range from e-commerce and robotics to developing Singapore as a sustainability hub or "Little Green Dot". An eighth alliance on medtech is being formed.

Updates on the work of the seven alliances were given at a press conference yesterday that was held by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and the task force's co-chairs, National Development Minister Desmond Lee and PSA International group chief executive Tan Chong Meng.

Mr Lee said that in the past four months, the seven groups have held discussions with more than 600 people from more than 330 organisations, including businesses, unions, trade associations, social enterprises and government agencies.

Unlike past efforts, the seven AfAs adopt a "start-up" approach, in which they aim to take action and build prototypes quickly, while keeping an eye on opportunities in the longer term.

Here is a look at some of their projects in the works.

1 RESUMING TRAVEL, MICE EVENTS

Last month's Singapore International Energy Week conference marked a milestone in the country's tackling of the pandemic, with visitors getting tested for the virus on the spot before they were allowed into the trade show.

This was made possible through the AfA's focus on safe and innovative visits or experiences.

The group is working on other ideas in the Mice sector. They include designing safe business events and leisure itineraries.

The pilot rapid-testing trial will continue to be refined at upcoming trade shows, like the TravelRevive conference later this month.

2 GROWING E-COMMERCE

One idea to refresh the ailing retail sector involves the blending of online and offline shopping experiences - delivering the personalised approach shoppers want, while helping traditional retailers expand their reach.

It was achieved earlier this month by the AfA for smart commerce through a tie-up between mall developer CapitaLand and virtual retailer Shopee. As part of the campaign, shoppers could win discount vouchers for six CapitaLand malls by playing a game on the Shopee app.

The goal is to help traditional retailers go digital and expand their customer base beyond Singapore.

The AfA has also started an incubation programme for Singapore brands to export their products.

3 DIGITALISING SUPPLY CHAINS

This AfA aims to secure Singapore's competitive edge and enhance its supply chain agility, as the country's hub status is being challenged by the global shifts resulting from the pandemic.

PSA International group chief executive Tan Chong Meng, the AfA's co-lead, said: "We must advance Singapore's position as a digital trade and fulfilment hub to strengthen the efficiency and resilience of our supply chains."

The AfA has gathered more than 50 public and private stakeholders, comprising about 300 people, via workshops to identify pain points and push towards digitalisation.

Co-lead Tan Chin Hwee, Trafigura Group's Asia-Pacific CEO, said there were initial concerns, but they soon saw it was a unique model of working side by side.

It will culminate in the creation of a Common Data Infrastructure (CDI), which will enhance inter-operability among platforms used by different segments of the supply chain ecosystem. This will improve trade financing integrity and productivity of logistics-dependent players, and strengthen the resilience of Singapore's supply chain.

The Emerging Stronger Taskforce said a CDI-powered supply chain will give Singapore the opportunity to advance its position as a digital trade and fulfilment hub.

4 BUILDING A 'LITTLE GREEN DOT'

This AfA plans to position Singapore as a hub for carbon-related services and nature-based solutions, and transform the country into a "Little Green Dot" where sustainability efforts will serve the domestic and overseas markets.

One aim for the hub is to come up with a standard for companies to measure, mitigate and offset their carbon footprint.

National University of Singapore professor Koh Lian Pin, whose expertise is in conservation science, technology and policy, said: "What we hope to achieve is to identify new economic opportunities that could help to build Singapore's climate resilience and resource resilience, as well as protect and preserve our natural ecosystems."

5 REACHING LEARNERS VIA EDUTECH

By 2025, the total global expenditure on education technology is expected to grow to about US$400 billion (S$539 billion).

The AfA for edutech is kick-starting minimum viable products, or products with just enough basic features to interest customers, with the goal of turning Singapore into a global talent hub.

One ongoing project is a digital platform to analyse employees' learning abilities, in order to recommend solutions to improve learning and build better teams.

For companies, this means a tool to develop talent, improve communication and achieve business goals.

6 DIGITALISING THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

The coronavirus pandemic has badly hit the construction and built environment sector as infections in dormitories and work sites brought construction to a standstill for many months.

One of the AfAs is bringing together developers, construction firms and other players to transform the sector through digitalisation as well as more advanced building technologies.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee said: "This will enhance productivity by integrating work processes and connecting different industry stakeholders throughout the building life cycle and ecosystem."

The AfA aims to bring 300 firms on board the coalition within a year, with a target of 1,000 by 2025.

7 ROBOTICS TO RAISE PRODUCTIVITY

Recognising that achieving breakthroughs in productivity and addressing manpower challenges are key priorities for Singapore's economic transformation, this AfA is leading pilots to develop and test robotics solutions in public land transport and in the area of cleaning.

For instance, it is working to launch two deployments of autonomous vehicles by the year end.

Hope Technik chief executive Peter Ho and ST Engineering CEO Vincent Chong are co-chairing the alliance.

Mr Chong said the jobs transformation that will take place with robotics solutions will be gradual.

"In the process of transition, we will also be able to help workers address the pain points in their work using technology so that it is win-win for enterprises and workers."

• Additional reporting by Linette Lai and Fabian Koh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2020, with the headline 'Industry-led groups working to spur growth in seven key areas'. Print Edition | Subscribe