Building strong Singaporean core in deep tech to power future growth

Singapore hopes to build a of local researchers and specialists in the area of deep tech, as it will be the engine to power future industry growth, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.

Artificial intelligence (AI), for instance, has the potential to help develop vaccines in record time, while quantum technologies may exponentially speed up computational time and enhance cryptography methods in cyber security.

“The Government will work with companies and the deep tech community to help Singaporeans plug into the international flow of ideas, while investing to grow our global talent and enhance industry competitiveness.

“This will be key to both our immediate recovery from Covid-19 and our long-term economic competitiveness,” Mr Iswaran said at a virtual talent showcase on job opportunities in the sector yesterday.

Deep technologies refer to scientific breakthroughs or significant advancements which, when applied, have far-reaching implications across sectors and can potentially change lives for the better.

“Despite our current economic circumstances, deep tech remains a bright spot with a promising future,” he said, noting that the pandemic has increased the impetus to accelerate innovation to address immediate challenges in areas such as healthcare and communications.

Yesterday's event, which included panel discussions, workshops and job booths, was organised by government-owned venture firm SGInnovate, which was founded in 2016 to fund, build and grow deep tech start-ups here.

Referring to the more than 200 apprenticeships and full-time jobs on offer at the event, Mr Iswaran said: “This attests to the resilience of the sector in an otherwise tough labour market… The sector's growth translates into exciting career opportunities for Singaporeans.”

He emphasised that the Government will intensify efforts to train Singaporeans, so that they are equipped to fill the growing demand here for tech-based roles.

“Our goal is to build a strong of researchers and technologists who possess not only the technical capabilities, but also the resolve to solve some of our greatest social and environmental problems of our times,” he said.

To this end, SGInnovate has partnered technical founders to commercialise deep tech research in domains such as quantum technology, medical technology and autonomous technology, he said.

Since November 2016, it has invested over $52 million in more than 80 start-ups.

Among the programmes that SGInnovate has rolled out is Power X, a programme to upskill young professionals with science, technology, engineering and mathematics backgrounds so that they can fill high-demand tech roles such as in robotics engineering.

Another example is the Summation Programme, which offers apprenticeships at deep tech companies where participants can work on projects in fields such as AI and cyber security.

Attracting people to join the deep tech sector is part of the Government's push to beef up talent across the digital economy, which has more than 18,000 skills training opportunities and job vacancies under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package – the sector with the highest offerings.

During a panel discussion yesterday, deep tech company leaders said those interested in the sector must always be adaptable and keep an open mind.

Ms Grace Chia, chief executive and co-founder of BeeX Autonomous Systems, which designs autonomous underwater vehicles, said: “You have to deal with unknowns, so you must want to constantly challenge yourself to explore methods to address these unknowns.”

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