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The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia’s lead digital economy agency, has kicked off the eRezeki programme for 2022. It is a training and job placement programme which focuses on generating high-value income opportunities for gig workers.

The programme runs from 1 October to 31 December 2022 and aims to upskill over 8,000 gig workers with a focus on participation from B40 and M40 households. The programme is one that falls under the banner of the MDEC Saya Digital campaign which includes four focus pillars:

  1. SayaDigital For Daily Work
  2. SayaDigital Empowers Careers
  3. SayaDigital Generates Income
  4. SayaDigital Expands Business

eRezeki emphasises the third focus pillar of the Saya Digital campaign which is to generate income opportunities in high-value sectors that include the creative sector; repairs, installation and maintenance including domestic services; tour and travel services; healthcare and lifestyle; professional digital services, advertising, promotion, and marketing; education and training; as well as distribution services.

The CEO of MDEC stated that the agency has consistently introduced campaigns and programmes which aim to create high-value employment opportunities for the Rakyat while at the same time, encouraging the development and growth of the sharing economy in Malaysia.

He noted that as announced during the launch of the national strategic initiative, Malaysia Digital (MD), MDEC’s inclusive approach towards fostering a conducive ecosystem for local entrepreneurs and global champions will help increase the contribution from the digital economy to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Effective collaboration with MDEC partners, especially in encouraging sharing economy activities including the gig economy, is expected to further democratise and facilitate access towards increased participation in the high-growth digital economy.

MDEC will work closely with 10 strategic partners from relevant high-value sectors that have been appointed based on set criteria and their capacity in providing high-income jobs. Throughout the duration of the eRezeki programme, MDEC’s strategic partner will conduct training and provide placement for gig workers through online platforms and physical sessions.

The 10 strategic partners for eRezeki have been appointed based on their involvement in high-value sectors as identified by MDEC. Furthermore, these companies were selected from a pool of 137 MDEC strategic partners approved by the Crowdsourcing Committee. 

In 2014, the Crowdsourcing Committee led by the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia (K-KOMM) was mandated by the Digital Malaysia Steering Committee to focus on validating sharing economy platforms in Malaysia.

The eRezeki programme was introduced in 2015 to provide an avenue for the urban B40 and M40 communities to earn additional income from the digital platform. The programme was also identified as a key programme under the Twelfth Malaysia Plan (RMK12).

Since its introduction, eRezeki has successfully trained a total of 312,735 participants to take advantage of the digital platform and earn an income online, generating a total collective income worth RM2.51 billion as of December 2021.

Both in normal circumstances and in times of crisis, Thai people are known to generate a lot of innovative ideas and continue to develop products that make their lives better. This encompasses and encapsulates the nation’s most recent campaign, Innovation Thailand, which promotes Thai creativity to a global audience.

The Innovation Thailand Alliance consists of partners from a variety of sectors including government agencies, private organisations, educational institutions, and civil societies. Through it, the National Innovation Agency of Thailand (NIA), is expanding the scope of its Innovation Thailand platform.

The fundamental goal is to use national/local ideas to revitalise the nation by promoting awareness of and pride in inventive Thai works. Allies will serve as ambassadors in the effort to promote Thailand as an innovative nation. They will be able to exchange knowledge and skills with one another at the same time.

All stakeholders are enthusiastic to help Thailand achieve its goal of being one of the world’s top 30 innovative nations by 2030 and turning Thailand into an innovation-driven country.

Innovation Capabilities of Thai People

The National Innovation Agency’s mission is to support and develop Thailand’s innovation system to promote economic restructuring and competitive enhancement.

In an exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Dr Pun-Arj Chairatana, Executive Director of the National Innovation Agency, Thailand shared the attest update on the Innovation Thailand platform that NIA launched for its national economic recovery.

“We began the Innovation Thailand campaign before COVID-19 because we faced a significant challenge in terms of how not only Thai people but also global clients, perceive the nation’s unique products and services,” explains Dr Pun-Arj.

Even though this may not be directly related to innovation, the NIA has attempted to communicate and brand national innovation in such a way that it can be easily connected not only with Thais but also with international customers – this is how they started the Innovation Thailand platform.

Thailand is a tourist destination and one of the top three in the world, which has caused the country to innovate their lifestyle as well as their livelihood.

Thai culture places a high value on craftsmanship and attention to detail. Thai innovation for artful living is a process created exclusively by the fusion of modern technology and knowledge passed down from one generation to the next.

“We have created ingenious solutions through this method that enhances the standard of living in terms of society, prosperity, health, safety, and the environment,” Dr Pun-Arj furthers.

They began to construct a community to exchange ideas, develop, and manage innovation that would result in delivering some information or any significant strategic movement that the government could initiate.

They are recruiting more Chief Innovation Officers from not only the private sector but also the public sector and universities, as part of their primary target group.

Dr Pun-Arj is looking to enhance the opportunities brought in by innovation, particularly at the regional level in the city. This is because they are working not only on economic development but also on the skillset of the social innovation division and platform.

“As a result, our primary focus is on regionalisations of innovation possibilities, as well as startups – innovation-based firms,” reveals Dr Pun-Arj.

He believes that every successful community is built upon a robust and well-functioning infrastructure. Hence, Thailand’s industries and infrastructure will be modernised to meet upcoming challenges.

“In the past, one of our five-year priorities included buildings which we identify as system integrators. As the system and ecosystem become more robust, we are transitioning from system integrators to full core facilitators.”

He emphasised the need to consider the impact of being a system integrator before transforming themselves into focal facilitators. Furthermore, the country wants to make better use of the enormous resource of innovation in universities to conduct research and technology in collaboration with other organisations across the world.

Through the City Innovation Index, which focuses primarily on districts and cities, the NIA promotes and monitors the constant innovation and evaluation of diverse organisations. Periodically, they performed surveys in particular industries to evaluate and propose answers for the difficulties they face.

A strong innovation strategy will evaluate the overall objectives, the target portfolio for innovation initiatives, and the process for allocating the necessary resources. The portfolio clearly defines innovation-critical benchmarks and bounds. Therefore, the nation will become democratic and transparent.

“I believe the government’s most essential innovation strategy focuses on three specific concerns. You must have highly strong and capable businesses of all sizes that will establish a very strong enterprise on its own. And secondly, you must have laws and regulations,” Dr Pun-Arj asserts. “In addition, governance is also required and identifying future risks.”

Thailand is struggling with several issues, including inequality, which includes limited access to public services, digital technology, education, and environmental problems. High manufacturing costs and new types of competition in the global supply chain became challenges for Thailand, with this, innovation has emerged as the country’s answer.

Additionally, there are many challenges in terms of digital transformation and government service and the nation is pushing for innovation that can deliver a good policy and deploy it into practice.

In the previous five-year plan, NIA primarily focused on the job of system integrator into four core facilitators. “That is why the short-term strategy is to train management in the methods, programmes, and activities that we have implemented over the last five years.”

NIA is primarily concentrated on strengthening the potential of regional innovation in several key sectors such as new technologies, assistance for startups, venture capital creation or investment for innovation, and internationalisation of Thailand’s innovation.

Dr Pun-Arj envisions a stronger Thai economy and society, with innovation playing a key role in propelling it. The Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG) model is a plan for the country’s growth and post-pandemic recovery. The BCG model focuses on four strategic sectors: agriculture and food, wellness and medicine, energy, materials, and biochemicals and tourism and creative economy.

It emphasises using science, technology, and innovation to turn Thailand’s comparative advantage in biological and cultural diversity into a competitive advantage. The primary aim is to support the sustainability of biological resources, develop local economies and communities and make Thai BCG industries more competitive and resilient to societal changes.

The approach is meant to make Thailand’s economy, society, and environment more sustainable and inclusive. “To achieve the 2030 goal, we must work incredibly hard to encourage innovation in this BCG economy. At the same time, the national policy needs to be improved.”

Dr Pun-Arj has been recognised as a pioneer in the domains of foresight and innovation management in the country. He counsels anyone aspiring to be a great innovator to fully comprehend the concepts of uncertainty and failure.

“Innovation will help us grow as a community or nation by making ourselves and others aware of the importance of innovation,” Dr Pun-Arj concludes.

Aquaculture is important to the Thai economy. To ensure the long-term growth of this important industry, it is necessary to strengthen the production system by increasing farmers’ sustainable farming capacity and implementing Aquaculture 4.0.

To help with this effort, the nation’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre under the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NECTEC-NSTDA) created Aqua-IoT, an IoT-based monitoring system for water’s physical, chemical, and biological qualities.

Dr Supanit Porntheeraphat, Principal Researcher of the NECTEC Digital Agriculture Technology Research Team, explained that the project to develop a digital aquaculture system began at NECTEC in 2010 at the height of disease outbreaks that severely harmed Thailand’s aquaculture industry and the overall economy. The system has been constantly developed and improved since then.

The integration of key data – physical, chemical, and biological water qualities, as well as weather – into a single dashboard allows users to understand the relationship between the data, analyse the data, and make informed decisions.

Dr Supanit added that Aqua-IoT is made up of four major systems: the Water and Weather Monitoring System, the MuEye System, the ChemEye System, and the Minimal Lab System. The first system measures water quality (temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen) as well as weather (wind speed and direction, light intensity, and rainfall).

These variables are critical for aeration and feed management. The MuEye System is intended to track the growth of aquatic animals and parasites, whereas the ChemEye is a chemical reader that measures the levels of nitrite, ammonia, chlorine, phosphate, and pH in the pond.

Minimal Lab is a probiotic application management system that monitors bacteria growth. The system is also integrated with BIOTEC-NSTDA disease diagnostic tests for shrimp and fish, with test results automatically sent to an online database that users can access via a web browser and a message application.

Aqua-IoT technology has already been licenced to businesses, allowing the devices to be sold commercially. Its advantages include energy and feed cost savings, as well as disease risk reduction. On the first crop, a return on investment can be expected.

The research team began introducing Aqua-IoT to aquaculture farmers in the eastern region in 2020. Working closely with farmers, according to Dr Supanit, allows researchers to better understand their requirements and needs, which leads to the development of other technologies to support aquaculture farming.

An automatic shrimp counting machine for managing pond density and a lift net machine that automatically measures shrimp density for feed and water quality management are two technologies under development.

Udon Songserm, the owner of Wasin Farm in Rayong Province, shared his Aqua-IoT experience. He clearly sees the benefits of cost, time, and labour savings after having the system installed in one of his ponds. He no longer needs to be on-site all the time to keep an eye on his ponds.

Dissolved oxygen data enables him to activate aerators only when needed, rather than always having the machines on, significantly reducing energy costs. Data on water’s chemical and biological properties prompt him to take appropriate actions to avoid losses caused by toxic conditions and disease outbreaks.

Udon also stated that some of the data collected from this pond, such as temperature, can be applied to other ponds in the area. The temperature has a direct effect on dissolved oxygen and can thus be used to manage aeration.

The NSTDA is tasked with accelerating science, technology, and innovation development in Thailand to respond to industry needs and improve the country’s competitiveness in the global economy, thereby contributing to national economic and social development. NSTDA is made up of five national research centres and two organisations involved in technology transfer and business development and promotion including the NECTEC.

At the Indonesian G20 Presidency Summit in 2022, the topic of digital transformation was given top priority. In several G20 activities, Mira Tayyiba, secretary general of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics, said that the leaders of the G20 member countries are concerned about the issue of digital transformation.

Digital issues, such as employment, discussing digital, education, health, and other topics, are discussed in many working groups, according to Secretary-General Mira. The G20 Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG) has focused on discussing digital transformation on three priority issues such as cross-border data flow and data free flow with trust; digital skills, and literacy; and post-COVID-19 connectivity and recovery.

She clarified that they are discussing connectivity as well as human resources who can make use of and discuss flowing data. The second of these three issues, known as digital iteration, can be classified as a multilateral issue because it affects all G20 members, so there is no disagreement.

Secretary General Mira described the connectivity and recovery problem following the COVID-19 pandemic as a regional problem as not all G20 members are developed nations. While the G20 includes developed nations like the G7, it also includes emerging nations like South Africa and Brazil. Some groups continue to discuss connectivity even after they refer to it as connectivity.

G20 membership is split into three sects, Secretary General Mira said when speaking about the third data-related issue. The first madhhab, which is more individualised, is European. The second is the corporate-based American school, and the third is the state-based Chinese school.

With the convergence of these three schools, the G20 Indonesia Presidency can create an agreement based on shared values, stating that the transfer of data must be done in a way that is ethical, just, and transparent.

Secretary General Mira extended an invitation to the millennials in attendance at the discussion forum to cooperate and work together more to usher in a new era of digital transformation by supporting the upkeep of a clean and secure digital space. She has urged everyone to make good use of digital technology and safeguard a safe, moral and responsible online environment.

According to Dedy Permadi, the alternate chair of the G20 Digital Economy Working Group, the government of the Republic of Indonesia is fighting for tangible outcomes at the G20 Summit, one of which is the use of digital technology for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

According to Dedy Permadi, one of the discussions between Indonesia and the G20 member countries is about the use of digital technology for MSMEs for them to survive and grow by going digital or online.

One of the solutions was digital technology, and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of MSMEs that went digital was around 9 million of the total 64 million MSMEs that contributed 60 per cent of Indonesia’s GDP. This is a fantastic deal. During the pandemic, approximately 12 million MSMEs were added.

Digital technology is used by about 32% of the 64 million MSMEs in Indonesia or 21 million of them. This means that as of right now, 68% of MSMEs have not used the digital space to help their businesses grow. Hence, it is a goal of the G20 countries to learn more about how digital connectivity can help the world economy get back on its feet.

At the recently held 3rd Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) meeting, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced the signing of eight (8) Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) and unveiled fourteen (14) new joint projects underneath the Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative (SCI).

The Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative, inaugurated in 2019, has strengthened the digital and commercial ties between Singapore and Shenzhen, according to Joseph Leong, co-chair of the JIC and Permanent Secretary for Communications and Information. Both parties have worked hard to improve SCI as a powerful platform for digital innovation, smart city collaboration, and business and people exchanges during the past three years, despite the challenges of the epidemic.

Singapore and Shenzhen will actively create a suitable business environment for enterprises to innovate and undertake cross-border transactions safely and smoothly as they build economic recovery and resilience. As the SCI enters its third year of implementation, the meeting reported doubling the number of new cooperative initiatives compared to the prior year.

These new initiatives will strengthen the existing Singapore-Shenzhen partnership in fostering digital transformation and policy innovation and open new commercial and employment prospects in the fields of research and innovation, trade, sustainability, and talent development. In the past year, one of the most important areas of collaboration has been the ease of digital trade using electronic Bills of Lading (eBLs).

After evaluating the outcomes of successful technical trade trials over the previous year, IMDA and Shenzhen’s Bureau of Commerce are prepared to extend IMDA’s TradeTrust pilot with actual business transactions involving banks, shippers, and other partners. This would open the door for the complete digitalization of the trade supply chain and benefit the ecosystem by enabling quicker and more secure digital trade transactions.

IMDA has also expanded its relationship with TusStar, a major Chinese technological incubator with a network of over 10,000 enterprises. TusStar will develop its network in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, and sensor technologies in the next phase, as well as strengthen its regional presence in Southeast Asia by instituting hub operations in Singapore. This collaboration will introduce technology start-ups from Singapore, Shenzhen, and other Chinese cities to new markets in the region.

The 14 new cooperative projects demonstrate digital technologies’ revolutionary significance throughout the SCI’s key areas of digital connection, talent exchange and development, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Notable initiatives include the application of sophisticated technology and artificial intelligence (AI) for the green economy and sustainability, such as lowering carbon dioxide emissions and improving battery management for electric vehicles.

SCI has so far begun 29 projects and signed 21 memorandums of understanding. This strong momentum in the SCI partnership demonstrates Singapore and Shenzhen’s leadership in digital economy development, as well as the possibility for SCI’s innovative projects to be scaled to more cities in the Greater Bay Area and Southeast Asia.

By creating a thriving digital economy and an inclusive digital society, IMDA guides Singapore’s digital transformation. As the “Architects of Singapore’s Digital Future,” the agency works to make Singapore a digital metropolis by promoting growth in the Infocomm technology and media industries alongside progressive policies, utilising cutting-edge technologies, and building local talent and digital infrastructure ecosystems.

The Victoria University of Wellington’s division of Science, Health, Engineering, Architecture, and Design Innovation (SHEADI) will inaugurate a Centre of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence in the first half of 2023.

According to a statement from the University, the centre will offer areas of expertise in modelling and statistical learning; evolutionary and multi-objective learning; deep learning and transfer learning; image, text, signal, and language processing; scheduling and combinational optimisation; and interpretable AI/ML learning.

These technological themes will be applied across a wide range of areas including primary industry, climate change and environment; health, biology, medical outcomes; security, energy, high-value manufacturing; and social, public policy, and ethics applications. On top of traditional research, the centre will also establish a pipeline of scholarships/internships for Maori students, train early career researchers, and focus on industry, intellectual property, and commercialisation.

The centre will build on the current success and international leadership in this space at the University, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the division, Ehsan Mesbahi, stated. The institute is continuing to grow its national and international partnerships to create local and global value. The centre will provide a distinctive identity for the growing excellence and innovation in data science and AI research at the University, capabilities which domestic and global partners are increasingly demanding across a vast array of application domains.

In May, the University announced it would offer the first undergraduate major in Artificial Intelligence in the country. It provides students with knowledge of AI concepts, techniques, and tools. They learn how to apply that knowledge to solve problems, combined with programming skills that will enable them to build software tools incorporating AI technology that will help shape the future.

Students studying AI at the University are taught by academics from its internationally renowned AI/ML research group, which is one of the largest in the southern hemisphere. The major is designed to open doors for graduates to opportunities nationally and around the world. There has been an increase in the adoption of AI technologies globally, and a growing demand for people who can apply AI techniques to address a wide range of problems, which the University aims to address.

After completing their degree, graduates will have a wide variety of career options, such as AI scientist, business consultant, AI architect, data analyst, machine learning engineer, and robotic scientist among others. They will also have the option to further their study through the University’s Master of Artificial Intelligence.

OpenGov Asia reported earlier that New Zealand’s Education Technology (EdTech) is set to become one of the country’s key industries. Worth NZ$ 173.6 million in 2020, EdTech software is poised to grow to NZ$ 319.6 million by 2025. At the heart of the digital transformation of education technology has been the pandemic. COVID-19 is seen as the driving force behind the digital transformation of learning, permanently changing the way education is consumed and delivered — right from preschool through post-tertiary education and lifelong learning. The global EdTech market size was valued at US$ 254.8 billion in 2021. Experts believe the market will reach US$ 605.4 billion by 2027.

The Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW recently unveiled Our Vision for Regional Communities – a new strategy to ensure regional NSW remains an ideal best place to live, work, play and raise a family.

He noted that the release is a vision for the regional NSW we are building with local communities, backed by real action that will make a real difference in people’s everyday lives. Over the past decade, billions have been invested in the infrastructure NSW needs and in growing regional economies.

The vision shows how the Government plans to build on that foundation and ensure regional communities have access to the education and health services they deserve and attract the workforce needed to deliver these services. It will ensure families can find a home by tackling housing pressures and delivering the infrastructure and services they need in their local community, he added.

The strategy’s launch was also used to announce:

  • A new welcome experience to be piloted across eight regional locations to support key workers to relocate to the regions and put down roots;
  • An AU$5 million investment in scholarships to upskill existing health workers and attract new staff to regional communities;
  • A trial of contactless payments on regional bus services in Dubbo and Bathurst to make services easier to use

Our Vision for Regional Communities is backed by a detailed three-year action plan that outlines key initiatives that will bring the vision to life. Initiatives already underway under the plan include:

  • An AU$2.4 billion investment in strengthening the regional health workforce including innovative approaches to training and incentives;
  • An AU$174 million investment in key worker housing that will deliver hundreds of new homes for teachers, police, and health workers over the next four years;
  • An AU$98 million investment in a new AU$250 travel card for regional apprentices and university students to ease the cost of travel for training and classes;
  • An AU$160 million investment in social and sporting infrastructure, and community programs like bike paths, playgrounds, and community centres through the Stronger Country Communities Fund;
  • An AU$59 million investment in the next generation including $40 million for local initiatives shaped by youth for youth.

Our vision recognises that regional communities are diverse and need local solutions that work for them. Our Vision for Regional Communities and Action Plan 2023-2025 is a future-focused strategy with key priorities across healthcare, education, communities and places and regional homes.

Connectivity is the main pillar of the vision. Through the Vision, the Government will support high-quality physical and digital connectivity to enable access to quality services, delivered more efficiently, and with greater equity.

The global smart infrastructure market size was US$77.66 billion in 2020; it is projected to grow from US$97.20 billion in 2021 to US$434.16 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 23.8% during the 2021-2028 period. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the smart infrastructure market witnessed a negative demand shock across all regions.

Smart infrastructure projects require funding from public and private resources. These advanced infrastructure models use ICTs services to communicate or optimise resources. Due to constant interaction, big data plays a vital role in developing and building a smart infrastructure.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in education have the potential to enhance how education is provided, financed, and managed as well as offer easier access to the community.

A PPP system operates under the construct that market mechanisms, in conjunction with government inputs, are better for providing education. One of the rationales behind PPPs, which are supported by international organisations, development agencies and academics, is that competition between public and private education providers is a good way to improve the quality and efficiency of education.

PPP policy frameworks should therefore create real market dynamics in which education service providers continue to innovate and improve the quality of their services to attract learners, young and old, who are seen as benefit maximisers and well-informed consumers.

New Era of Partnerships, Building Talent Pipeline

In an exclusive interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, Annie Koh, Steering Committee, Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) elaborated on how public-private partnerships in higher education create effective degree programmes.

“The structure and framework for any university to launch degree programmes can be fairly onerous, given the emphasis on quality assurance and relevance,” says Annie who is also a Professor Emeritus of Finance (Practice), Lee Kong Chian School of Business and Senior Advisor at the Business Families Institute in Singapore Management University (SMU).

However, academic-industry partnerships play a crucial role in building the future of students and facilitating the transition of young people from school to work. Students need to be exposed to a variety of jobs and workplaces to develop interest and discover where their studies and passion may lead.

Industry partnerships with different sectors offer a variety of experiences, such as simulated job interviews, career development activities, challenge-based learning projects, curriculum-aligned activities, and work-study programmes. In addition, internships have become a vital opportunity for candidates to distinguish themselves prior to full-time employment.

A PPP is mutually beneficial, allowing industry access to fresh talent and looking at the industry’s challenges from the perspective of future consumers or employees acknowledges Annie. In fact, the private sector has indicated to all institutions that they need future talent in the area of data analytics, so SMU has recently launched a track in data analytics hosted in both their business school and computer and info systems school so universities also benefit from the insights from the industry to stay relevant in our curricula.

With the help of data analytics tools, a company may take unstructured raw data and use this information to discover patterns, draw conclusions and turned into useful insights. Therefore, data analysis aids businesses in so many ways, including making educated judgments, developing a more successful marketing plan, enhancing the customer experience and streamlining processes.

Education is not only under the charge of the Ministry of Education but also needs the support of other ministries since future jobs and capacity building are expected of the Ministries of Trade and Industry, Finance, Maritime, Health and others. Partnering with the whole of government allows for students’ skillsets to be increased and all students become more relevant, valuable and workplace ready.

Prof Annie knows that no one has a monopoly on knowledge, and no one knows the exact skills which will be needed in the future. Thus, PPPs have the most value when it forms a part of  “lifelong learning.”

The exciting thing about lifelong learning, Annie believes “…is that when you get your degree, you think you’re done, but you’re just getting started. Even as you gain experience and learn on the job,  you’ll need to keep reinventing yourself and the skills needed to extend your runway will keep changing.”

Passion extends beyond degrees and ongoing learning is a crucial element to keep employees engaged  That’s why higher education now permits a variety of pathways to marry passion with career aspirations and is no longer a paper chase, she explains.

Two good cases to illustrate the value of PPP in the context of SMU’s innovative programmes that Prof Annie is very proud of are the partnership approach in launching the International Trading track and the Maritime Business Operations track under the Finance and Operations majors in SMU’s business school.

In accordance with the creation of a strong Singaporean core, wholesale trade and maritime businesses have been focusing on both skillset development and attracting new talent supply to ensure a pipeline of sustainable human capital. So, the trading and maritime sectors do need to build a case for making the jobs in their sectors more appealing – particularly with the assistance of government grants and scholarships.

Companies can play a crucial role by showing how an organisation can provide a feeling of purpose with support and development opportunities available  to make building a career in their organisations appealing and attractive to the candidate

A part of Annie’s challenge in the early days was to set up an International Trading Institute (ITI) where students could take for-credit classes under the business school and get a certificate of completion for the non-credit practice-oriented sessions, learning from practitioners in the evenings.

“My goal at SMU is to link external relevance to internal degree requirements while upholding the quality assurance requirements of the education system. Different industry partners  help us with this mission to co-create and deliver the applied learning content with us.”

SMU is therefore a strategic asset for the country and both the tracks had, over the last decade, created a pool of more than 300 alumni who are knowledgeable about wholesale trading, largely in the commodities trading space and maritime operations.  Now, there is available talent who are able to speak and work with more confidence up and down the trade value chain and contribute to Singapore’s relevance as a trade and maritime hub.

Another great example of PPP was manifested during the last three years of the COVID-19 crisis which saw a spate of job cuts and many experienced PMETs were laid off. Annie worked with her teams at ITI and BFI to design a nine-month Business and Digital Transformation programme which combined in-class training modules with a capstone project for candidates who are matched to SMEs to also deliver a project for these sponsoring companies. Candidates have a chance to learn and apply the knowledge and sponsoring companies also benefit from the capstone projects delivered. In addition, 70% to 90% of the programme fees are supported by SSG grants, while WSG grants provide funding support towards the candidates’ commensurate salaries.

All these partnerships were possible because a pool of companies is available and can be accessed to match the candidates as a result of SMU’s external network of trusted companies, which was strengthened by the BFI that Annie had set up 10 years ago with the support of SMU’s senior leadership. Many of Asia’s SMEs are family owned with different sets of challenges and aspirations other than the usual business issues. In addition, many of these business families have longer horizons and they are the ones that countries depend on to build businesses sustainably as they think beyond current generations.

Therefore, business families with an entrepreneurial spirit, not only make money but also contribute to changing the world through their businesses and other new ventures, including building social enterprises and philanthropic activities.

By addressing business family-specific issues such as succession, family governance, entrepreneurship and wealth management, BFI aims to strengthen the ecosystem of entrepreneurial business families and stakeholders in their creation of sustainable impact by leveraging SMU’s core competence as a thought leader. In turn, BFI has been a strong partner to the LKYGBPC. Many of LKYGBPC’s sponsors are family-owned businesses, such as Wilmar International and Frasers.

In addition, many of these family enterprises have footprints beyond Singapore and are always on the lookout for quality start-ups to invest in or be part of their accelerator programmes. Innovation is essential for a company to improve its operations, introduce new and enhanced products and services to the market, raise its efficiency, and most crucially, boost its profitability.

Annie feels that her journey in academia is more about building entrepreneurship and Technology, Talent and Trust (3Ts) are important drivers in helping companies in their transformation journeys. As such, public-private-people partnerships are even more relevant in today’s challenging and uncertain times to build back better and broader for everyone.

According to Annie, the road to digital and business transformation success is paved with courageous actions by caring and forward-looking leaders. The right leaders will build a firm sustainably and attract the right people, the right leaders will inspire and motivate the right people to learn, improve and grow.

“Developing people is my calling but learning to develop people is everyone’s responsibility. And because the world is bigger than yourself, you need to be big-hearted, purpose-oriented, and have an open mind to be successful on any path you choose,” Annie concludes.

OpenGov TV Speaker Panel – Know Your Customers

Part 3 of our OpenGov TV Speaker Panel series with OneConnect. Listen to experts talk about the importance of KYC (Knowing Your Customers)!