New academy to send Singapore students overseas for internships at start-ups

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the creation of a new academy that sends Singapore interns abroad, during the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - To groom future innovators with a global view, a new academy has been set up to send Singapore students abroad for internships at start-ups or companies that undertake entrepreneurship and innovation.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced this at the opening of this year's Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (Switch) on Monday (Sept 17).

He said the Global Innovation Alliance Innovators Academy, which was launched by the Economic Development Board (EDB), is one of several new initiatives being rolled out to get innovators in Singapore to develop their tech capabilities and collaborate with others globally.

The academy will facilitate overseas internships in 17 cities for more than 1,300 students from the autonomous universities over the next few years.

It will enhance the schools' existing overseas programmes with funding and networks.

Mr Heng said: "By exposing Singapore students to a diverse range of innovation ecosystems abroad, the Innovators Academy hopes to groom future innovators and business leaders with a global perspective."

Meanwhile, Enterprise Singapore has developed the Startup SG Network to make it easier for people globally to search for and connect with Singapore's entrepreneurs.

The database, specifically for technology start-ups, goes live on Monday. More than 2,600 companies from over 30 technology sectors have signed up.

Mr Heng said: "By aggregating profiles and resources on a single platform, the Startup SG Network enables Singapore's start-ups to find and make connections within our ecosystem, and to put them on the radars of global players, expanding their opportunities for growth."

To grow Singapore's quantum engineering sector, the National Research Foundation (NRF) has also developed the National Quantum Engineering Programme, launched to translate quantum science into industry-ready solutions.

The $25 million programme will be set up and hosted in the National University of Singapore, said Mr Heng.

It will conduct research in areas such as quantum cryptography, to safeguard against cyber-security threats, advanced manufacturing capability and enhanced imaging and sensing technology.

Mr Heng said Switch, Asia's flagship tech and innovation gathering, provides the opportunity for the exchange of ideas and innovation across sectors and countries.

The event is organised by the NRF and Enterprise Singapore.

It features exhibitions and activities along themes such as technology, entrepreneurship, venture funding and tech in lifestyle.

Among the exhibits are devices that perform automated image analysis for eye diseases, artificial intelligence-driven robots and software that can recognise emotion.

Mr Heng said: "We are happy to catalyse this convergence of minds, from many backgrounds and communities. There is a global consensus that technology and innovation can improve the lives of people around the world.

"But these needs of different communities are complex and diverse. We believe that by assembling a wide range of perspectives and expertise, we can understand these needs better and create solutions for them."

This year's event sees an Asean-China track introduced into the line-up of activities, in line with Singapore as chair of Asean and the deepening Asean-China cooperation in areas such as digital economy and smart cities, said Mr Heng.

Singapore had issued a road map with France in July, for increased cooperation in digital innovation, Internet governance and cyber security.

Later this month, the Republic will also host the Australian Festival of Innovation.

"Through cultivating strong international networks like these, Singapore can act as a springboard for regional enterprises embarking on international expansion," Mr Heng added.

The third iteration of Switch will run from Monday to Thursday (Sept 17 to 20) at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre and is expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors.

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