Singapore Plans S$300 Million to Spur Innovation in Digital Push

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore will allocate a further S$300 million ($222 million) to spur research in digital innovation as the government transforms the economy through technology.

The amount, almost double the current budget, is part of the next phase of the National Research Foundation’s five-year plan ending 2020, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said during a parliamentary session Monday. It will be used for research in the services and digital economy.

“Investment in research and development is essential to help our industries innovate and stay competitive, even as technology rapidly evolves,” he said. It is the city-state’s vision that all businesses, workers and citizens are digitally connected and skilled, he said.

The Southeast Asian nation with a population of about 5.7 million is a regional financial hub that’s seeking to attract more businesses and investors through technological advances. The government has outlined a range of measures to help small businesses go digital and to develop a high-technology skilled workforce.

Singapore will roll out artificial-intelligence and cloud-based solutions to every business sector by 2020, Iswaran said. The nation introduced a nationwide electronic invoicing network for businesses in January, and also has an initiative to help businesses securely exchange digital trade documents.

The city-state’s Infocomm Media Development Authority plans to begin rolling out fifth-generation, or 5G, mobile-phone networks by 2020 to maintain Singapore’s “competitive edge in connectivity,” Iswaran said. The new networks will provide data services at peak rates of as much as 100 times faster than the current generation, with the ability to support up to 1,000 times more devices, he said.

Read how Singapore lets telecom firms decide in Huawei 5G equipment debate

Public consultation on the 5G regulatory framework and policies including the allocation of spectrum will begin shortly, the minister said. Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., the country’s biggest phone company, and other mobile operators are working toward adopting 5G.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.