Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to join you todayat the Punggol Digital District (PDD): Connecting Smartness 2023.
Shifts in Operating Environment
Two years ago, I announced the first batch of global companies that will be located in Punggol Digital District (PDD) at a hybrid event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we emerged from the pandemic, we find ourselves facing new challenges arising from major structural shifts in our operating environment. Geopolitical tensions and instabilities have put significant pressure on the open trading system. Our industries are also facing tightening carbon constraints as we transition towards a net zero emissions economy. New technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, are disrupting industries and business models.As Artificial Intelligence technology improves and becomes integrated in more applications, for example, ChatGPT, it could disrupt many business functions and job roles, such as in IT and engineering, and change the way we work and do business.
Singapore’s Tech Sector is Well-Positioned
These shifts will create both challenges and opportunities for Singapore. Even before these shifts, Singapore has invested in infrastructure and training to enable the growth of our tech sector. As such, our tech sector has been vibrant with opportunities for both our businesses and workers. Even with the recent wave of tech layoffs, our digital economy continues to offer tremendous growth potential and Singapore remains well-positioned to weather the current challenges to seize these opportunities.
Our extensive network with both developed and emerging economies puts thecountry in a unique position as a “launchpad” for global businesses seeking to enter Southeast Asia and for regional startups looking to access the global market. Our political stability, bilateral and regional free trade agreements, excellent tech infrastructure, and digital and data-friendly policies, make Singapore an attractive place for tech businesses.
But our job is not yet done in growing our tech sector. We need to step up our efforts to enhance our value propositions so that we can remain the location of choice for existing and new tech businesses. Punggol Digital District, PDD in short, is an integral part of this effort.
Punggol Digital District as an Effective Enabler of Tech
PDD is masterplanned and developed by JTC, occupying 50-hectare of land and will be the first local business district to fully integrate physical infrastructure and smart technologies. PDD is expected to create 28,000 jobs closer for Punggol residents and those in the north-east region. It is poised to attract digital leaders in key growing tech sectors such as Cybersecurity, Blockchain & Fintech, Robotics & Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing and Smart Living. PDD is well positioned to be the gateway for digital tech companies to launch into the region.
In 2021, I had announced the first batch of global companies that will be located in PDD. Each of them brought a mix of different expertise to the community, such as robotics and engineering, cybersecurity and blockchain technology. Today, I am pleased to announce the anchoring of new businesses into the district, including the largest tenant to date –UOB.
UOB will be setting up its new global technology and innovation centre in its own building in PDD, housing around 3,000 talents from technology, innovation and digital roles. This new centre will be where new products and features are ideated, developed, piloted,and rolled out to the bank’s global markets in 19 countries and territories. For example, UOB will continue to develop its UOB TMRW app in PDD to serve the needs of the region’s digital generation.
The centre, which is targeted for completion by end 2026, will also be home to UOB’s Finlab –an Innovation Accelerator that connects businesses to catalyse growth and transformation in digitalisation and sustainability. To further ambitions in sustainability, UOB and JTC will later be signing a Memorandum of Understanding to explore a holistic approach in driving sustainability adoption by local industrialists in PDD, and beyond. By combining the technical expertise in their respective ecosystems, JTC and UOB will conduct joint outreach and capacity building workshops to support companies’ journeys towards a greener and more sustainable future.
Joining UOB is digital media agency Target Media Culcreative (TMCC), as well as local systems integrator Delteq. To cater to new players entering PDD, JTC willalso build three additional business park towers to the district, providing another 1.2 million sq ftof business park & commercial space. Allthese new tenants, together with those already at PDD, will strengthen PDD’s digital ecosystem and catalyse new innovations, further driving the growth of the tech sector in PDD.
PDD Connects Industry, Academia, and Training
At PDD, the co-location of businesses and the future Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) brings businesses to talent, and talent to businesses. With more than 10,000 SIT students sited at the PDD campus, the district will benefit from a full-fledged applied learning environment here.
While the physical space is still in the making, I am glad to learn that collaborations under the “PDD Living Lab”programme have gone full steam ahead. A partnership between JTC and SIT, the programme provides a framework to better foster collaborations between enterprises, academia and other relevant stakeholders in PDD to achieve the following three outcomes: 1) develop future tech talents; 2) provide opportunities for co-innovation and test-bedding; and 3) drive entrepreneurship.
Discussions have already begun, and a series of collaborations under this programme will be formalised shortly.
- UOB and SIT will work together to set up a Fintech Innovation Lab within SIT’s upcoming Punggol campus for innovation and applied research.
- Wanxiang Blockchain and its partners are collaborating with SIT on the usage of blockchain technology to develop a decentralised identity system in SIT’s Virtual Campus. Thiswill allow faculty and students to access different campus sites seamlessly.
- TMCC and SIT will jointly hold ideation challenges to invite students to formulate digital advertising solutions in different real work contexts, cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship amongst our future talents.
- Local robotics firm d’Construct Robotics and SIT are exploring ways to co-develop next-generation autonomous robotsto improve campus experience such as last-mile delivery and smart campus management.
I look forward to more of such collaborations under this programme.
While our economic and digital environment evolves rapidly, we must continue to work closely together to enable the growth of our tech sector. Partnerships, such as those enabled by PDD, is also a testament to Singapore’s reputation as a trusted digital innovation hub.
Congratulations to JTC, SIT, and various partners in bringing PDD to life. I look forward to successful and smart collaborations in PDD.