Smart Nation Fellowship Programme launched to tap expertise overseas

Ms Jacqueline Poh, managing director of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).
Ms Jacqueline Poh, managing director of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The call is growing louder to draw top data scientists, technologists and engineers abroad back to Singapore to work on smart nation projects.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) rolled out Singapore's first-ever Smart Nation Fellowship Programme on Monday (March 7).

This comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit last month to San Francisco, where he encouraged Singaporeans working there to maintain their links and return one day.

The fellowship is also open to Singaporeans working in the private sector or academia in Singapore.

IDA managing director Jacqueline Poh said: "Building a smart nation requires all hands on deck."

While a crack team of 90-plus Singapore government data scientists and software engineers are already banging out codes and designing solutions to address the needs of a smart nation - such as in transport and healthcare - there is also a need for skill transfer from the best and the brightest.

"The government must continually engage with and learn from these technology experts globally to actively create technology applications that have the potential to change lives in Singapore," said Ms Poh.

She urged Singaporean technologists abroad to contribute time here to make a difference to Singapore's smart nation vision and inspire the next generation of technologists.

Successful fellowship applicants will work for short stints of three to six months alongside software engineers from the crack team at IDA, dubbed Government Digital Services (GDS).

The GDS team is behind the myResponder app, which directs qualified volunteers to suspected heart attack case, to attend to them until the emergency services arrive. Another GDS app, called Beeline, lets office workers book rides from private bus operators.

It is hoped that an inaugural batch of four to eight fellows will be appointed by the end of the year. They will each receive a stipend.

Through this fellowship, IDA also hopes to establish a global resource network that the Singapore government can continually tap on.