Future students may study not only digital coding, but also genetic coding: Lawrence Wong

Education Minister Lawrence Wong said deep tech such as genetic coding is at the forefront of new innovations.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong said deep tech such as genetic coding is at the forefront of new innovations.PHOTO: SGINNOVATE

SINGAPORE - Students these days are already being exposed to digital coding classes at a young age, but in future, they may also study genetic coding.

Giving the opening address at SGInnovate's virtual career showcase New Frontier: Build Your Deep Tech Future on Saturday morning (April 10), Education Minister Lawrence Wong said deep tech such as genetic coding is at the forefront of new innovations.

Deep tech is a broad term describing the latest innovative technologies in fields such as biotechnology, computing and engineering.

It encompasses innovations such as artificial intelligence, gene editing and blockchain.

Referring to the three fundamental kernels of human existence - the atom, the bit and the gene - Mr Wong said both the atom, which represents physics, and the bit, which represents computing, have already driven their own revolutions.

"Now, we are entering a life science revolution," he said.

"So, in the future, I expect students to study not just digital code, but also genetic code."

He noted that the deep tech scene, while relatively new in Singapore, has already made an impact, such as with the digital health passport co-developed by Accredify and SGInnovate, and the saliva sample test kit for Covid-19 developed by start-up Lucence.

Deep tech also had a significant role in the recent development of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines and TraceTogether.

"There are many other examples where deep tech has demonstrated great potential in creating positive impact," said Mr Wong.

"So the future looks bright for the sector, around the world and in Singapore."

In his welcome remarks, Dr Lim Jui, chief executive of SGInnovate, said deep tech has been crucial in the fight against Covid-19.

"Especially in the light of the pandemic, people are beginning to become aware and appreciative of the potential of deep tech to solve the most pressing challenges confronting humanity," he said.

"We are seeing many more investors from non-traditional funding sources venturing into deep tech."

More than 200 job opportunities from about 40 deep tech companies were showcased at the virtual event, which saw more than 2,000 participants.

The event also saw SGInnovate launching two new tracks under its PowerX full-time traineeship programme.

Ms Juliana Lim, executive director for talent networking at SGInnovate, said the new cyber security track and software and product development track came about due to high demand in the industry for talent in these areas.

"As SGInnovate works closely with deep tech companies to help them source for talent, we are in a good position to witness the intersection of demand and supply of talent within the ecosystem," she said.

"We hope that PowerX can continue to upskill local talent to contribute to high-demand tech roles."