Digital opportunities seized by Singapore companies amid Covid-19 landscape

As the global economy comes to terms with doing business during the pandemic, Singapore companies are seizing digital opportunities

  • More than 30 organisations are participating in the Virtual e-Exhibition and 17 MOUs signed as part of Smart China Expo Online, as business gains traction
  • China-Singapore (Chongqing) Joint Innovation Development Fund saw robust participation by S’pore and Chongqing companies

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the need for rapid digital transformation and robust digital connectivity around the world.

digital opportunities
As the global economy comes to terms with doing business during the pandemic, Singapore companies are seizing digital opportunities (image: OCBC)

As the global economy comes to terms with doing business during the pandemic, companies are turning to technology to revamp their offerings and seize digital opportunities.

17 Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between Singapore and Chongqing businesses were signed on the side lines of the Smart China Expo (SCE) Online, as businesses continue to explore digital opportunities amid the pandemic restrictions. The MOUs ranged from collaborations in built environment and manufacturing, to logistics and tourism for markets in Chongqing, Western China and Singapore.

“Chongqing is a key node into Western China, Singapore is likewise, a gateway into South East Asia. It is heartening to see that business engagements have continued, despite COVID restrictions, enabled by moving from the physical onto the Digital domain,” said Mr Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

The annual SCE is Chongqing’s most significant platform for tech leaders and the digital community to promote innovation and forge partnerships.

32 Singapore companies and organisations participated in this year’s virtual exhibition, the first time the SCE has gone completely digital amid COVID restrictions. This was made possible by the International Dedicated Connectivity (IDC), launched in September last year, allowing for the live streaming of the conference.

The IDC provides high quality and low latency digital connectivity between Chongqing and Singapore, enabling new business projects and digital opportunities between Western China and Southeast Asia.

To further seed innovative collaborations, Singapore and Chongqing companies jointly submitted more than 30 joint proposals to the initial tranche of the Joint Innovation Development Fund (JIDF) over the past year. 14 joint proposals were subsequently endorsed by the Joint Evaluation Committee comprising industry and academia from Chongqing and Singapore.

Launched in 2019, the JIDF is an RMB$40M initiative by IMDA, Enterprise Singapore and Chongqing Application Development Administration Bureau to promote the joint development of innovative products and solutions. The fund aims to catalyse projects that have the potential to bring about substantial economic benefits for the respective companies and countries.

Speaking at the Online Opening Ceremony of the SMART China Expo on15 September, Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo, said: “the large scale event is testament to Chongqing’s ability to innovate and leverage digital technologies.”

“I am glad that we have a strong participation of around 30 Singapore companies at the SCE Online e-Exhibition, with 17 Memoranda of Understanding to be signed between them and their partners.

COVID-19 has made ‘going digital’ central to everyday interaction. Like China and other economies, Singapore is keen to turn adversity into opportunity (让我们大家一起把危机转为商机). This is even as we explore the use of digital technologies to unlock new value and business models in every sector of our economy.

This includes the MICE sector – Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions. For example, it may surprise you that I am currently at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. What is new here is the Hybrid Event Broadcast Studio. This studio was recently-launched and features augmented reality and hologram functions that allow us to beam someone from a different part of the world ‘live’ into Singapore. Such technologies allow us to not only restart the MICE business, but also to build new capabilities and re-invent important sectors of our economies.

Singapore and Chongqing have a shared commitment to be at the forefront of digital connectivity. In fact, this is a key pillar of the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, which is China and Singapore’s third Government-to-Government flagship project. Our collaboration has enabled Singapore’s attendance at the SCE Online today to be streamed live through the CCI International Dedicated Connectivity, which was launched just last September when Party Secretary Chen visited Singapore.

This afternoon, the Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority and the Chongqing Big Data Application and Development Management Bureau will be organising the International Dedicated Connectivity Forum. Participants can find out more about how the International Dedicated Connectivity will facilitate the flow of trade, services and information between Singapore, Southeast Asia and Western China, and how it can be applied in fields such as telemedicine and financial services.

Digital connectivity has also enhanced physical trade and connectivity between our regions. We have worked together to make the clearance of goods more efficient along the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. We have done this by linking Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform and China’s National Single Window. This will make the exchange of digital trade documents between Singapore and China seamless and reduce costs for businesses.

I am heartened that Singapore and Chongqing are working closely to promote policy innovation in facilitating cross-border data flows. This will support new crossborder business opportunities and spur the use of new technologies to tackle challenges.

With the visionaries and talents gathered here today, I am confident that the Smart China Expo will uncover new opportunities for further collaboration.”

A recent DBS survey revealed that Singapore businesses continue to lead in digitalisation efforts across the Asia-Pacific (APAC). Polling around 1,700 corporate treasurers, CEOs, CFOs and business owners across the region, the survey showed that in terms of digital readiness, close to half (45%) of Singapore businesses have a well-defined strategy – the highest proportion in APAC, overtaking Japan’s pole position in the bank’s 2019 Digital Treasury Survey.

Written by Ravi Chandran

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