How do you ensure that a population as large as 1.3 million, spread across an area of 650 000km2 receives the healthcare services they need?
For the state of New South Wales (NSW), the answer is an ICT infrastructure which is reliable, secure and available. Close to a quarter of NSW’s population reside outside the state’s major cities of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. Residents in the regional, rural and remote communities require equal healthcare services their city counterparts enjoy.
One of the masterminds behind enabling world class and seamless healthcare services for this demographic is Dr Zoran Bolevich. The Chief Information Officer of NSW Health and Chief Executive of eHealth NSW has recently been ranked fourth in the third annual CIO50 list. The list recognises 50 leading technology and digital chiefs from across Australia’s private and public sectors who pioneer organisational innovation and transformation.
Under his leadership, the eHealth Strategy for NSW Health: 2016 – 2026 was delivered. The plan supports the digital transformation of New South Wales’ public health system. A project of mammoth undertaking, it includes a Rural eHealth Program. Catering to Australia’s largest public health system, it provides ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to patient records for rural and remote clinicians. It is truly testament that telemedicine can lead to better healthcare outcomes.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to chat with Dr Zoran at the Asia Pacific MedTech Forum 2018, where he was a speaker. He shared with us how his team used telemedicine to overcome the challenge of distance in delivering and receiving quality healthcare.
This article is the first of a two-part article. Click here to read the second.
Going the Distance
NSW is a geographically diverse and massive region. Although there is a good number of hospitals in the state, the 228 facilities are spaced out across six rural Local Health Districts (LHDs). Close to half of these facilities are in Australia’s outback.
“Typically, rural hospitals do not have the same number of clinical staffs compared to larger hospitals. Furthermore, they may not have the different types of specialists found in larger cities or tertiary hospitals. Some of the rural hospitals are even run by a local general practitioner who works under contract with the hospital and has admitting rights to the local hospital,” explained Dr Zoran.
“It is quite a different model from big city hospitals. We need to develop different sorts of mechanisms to support local efforts. The alternative is that patients have to travel very large distances. Not only is it costly, it is also very inconvenient for patients,” he added.
Some local health districts in the state are as large as some European countries, resulting in a day’s long travel for some patients to reach a hospital whether for an emergency or specialist visit. The inconvenience has a huge impact not only on the patient, but also the family who accompanies them.
Ideally, a rural hospital should be able to support patients residing in its LHD. However, the sheer distance from the city and its relative smaller size means that not as much funding is received. Dr Zoran noted that a disproportionately larger investment was needed to bring rural hospitals to the same level as larger hospitals in the city.
“It is a big disruption for these rural communities. That’s why we started thinking, if we want to have really good telehealth capabilities, or to be able to do video consultations so that the patient does not need to travel, or to have local clinical teams be supported by specialists from a larger hospital using a shared electronic medical health record, we need to have the infrastructure which was up to the task.”
“It was really important for us to ensure that we don’t have parts of our health system that are not able to technologically follow along with the developments in the rest of the state. We decided that we wanted to work as a system.”
Telehealth Projects for Large Geographies
Introducing the Rural eHealth Program. The Program brings together a suite of ICT infrastructure, clinical and corporate eHealth solutions to the six LHDs. Partnership and collaborations are formed, a governance model for all six LHDs are formed, and funding is consolidated. A project worth AUD 48 million, there are plans to increase spending by AUD 43 million in the next four years.
Using mobile technology solutions for remote facilities, clinicians can collaborate across the state. For now, a governance which leverages on partnership is unique in Australia. Based on mutually agreed priorities and principles, oversight and leadership are provided to deliver and adopt eHealth solutions.
A major milestone accomplished is the use of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). 109 hospitals and 73 sites have ditched paper-paper processes to adopt EMR. At the click of a button, clinicians can now view patient information from across the state, which until recently relied on couriering paper-based patient records.
As an extension of this service, Dr Zoran shared that eHealth NSW has partnered with an organisation to implement point of care laboratory testing in rural places. Local clinicians can do basic tests on portable devices and feed it into the EMR. This allows the central and local team to have a teleconference on how the patient is doing.
What underpins this seamlessness is the Health Wide Area Network (HWAN), a high-speed secure broadband network connecting all NSW public hospitals.
“We’ve connected 140 odd facilities across the state to that network. That gives each rural facility high quality, reliable broadband connectivity to our central data centre. For all our EMR systems to now live in the data centre is crucially important,” said Dr Zoran.
The alternative of running the system out of the central government centre was undesirable. Accessing the system remotely, while hoping for the server’s good performance and reliability was unrealistic. Dr Zoran says since the infrastructure was put in place, it has been transformational.
Some projects which have transpired include the HealtheNet Clinical Portal and the Rural eMeds Project.
HealtheNet links hospital inpatient data and community care patient data through a web-based portal accessed through a patient’s EMR. Based on open standards for interoperability, it sends information to the Commonwealth’s My Health Record system, supporting more coordinated care across hospital, general practitioners and community settings. This provides clinicians with a summary view of a patient’s available health information, without the need to chase and manage paper-based records over large distances.
Additional functionalities such as the Discharge Dispense Record enables rural hospitals to share records of dispensed medications with HealtheNet and My Health Record, enhancing the continuity of patient care across rural and remote areas by increasing content available to NSW Health clinicians.
The Rural eMeds Project delivers medication management solutions to 112 facilities (the largest of its scale in NSW). The Project further improves the safe prescribing and administration of medicines, and a key benefit is a single design resulting in standardisation across this large geographical area. The first go-lives commenced in September 2018 and are on track for completion by the end of 2019.
For now, the team is now looking to increase HWAN’s performance and reliance. They are working with telecommunication providers to have more redundant links and increase coverage in areas where redundant links are not possible. Although physical networking is the solution here, they are exploring the use of mobile network alternatives.
Reliable wireless networks are becoming increasingly important as clinicians become more mobile. Moreover, the wireless networks support the use of other supporting mobile technologies. For example, in several rural health facilities a telehealth trolley which houses a camera and a fully functional clinical work station is used. The technology allows nurses to facilitate a remote consultation with base hospitals in the cities.
“Our health service is able to provide really good service no matter where you live – that’s what it’s about,” said the CIO.
Plans for the Future
At present, the organisation is working on a telemedicine trial called Telestroke in two districts and are looking to scale it across the state.
Telestroke allows a neurologist to provide remote treatment for patients with a suspected stroke. Designed to reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment, the program connects a rural hospital to a neurologist in the nearest tertiary referral centre.
Despite the distance, relevant clinical information and diagnostic images are transmitted efficaciously. Neurologists remotely determine if the patient should begin thrombolytic treatment, or other treatments should be explored, and if a transferral to the tertiary clinic is necessary.
The transfer process becomes seamless. Doctors have a good estimate of when the patient will arrive and can hit the ground running since they have the necessary information beforehand. Hence, as soon as the patient arrives, patients are wheeled to an operating theatre or a suitable treatment facility.
“We are seeing really good outcomes. Because the sooner you treat patients, the better the outcome. Time is absolutely of essence,” shared Dr Zoran. “With this kind of technology, we have no doubt that it can save lives.”
Community health nursing service is another big project they are working on. In the rural areas, community health nurses who conduct home visits require mobile technology to conduct their regular checks.
“This is where we have challenges still,” admits Dr Zoran. “Because not all parts of our state have good mobile coverage. It is getting better over time, but there are still blind spots around the state. A lot of time, our community nurses cannot establish the connection.”
For example, they might want to record a video of the patient but fail to establish a mobile connection given the blind spots. Hence, working with telcos becomes important.
Hence, there is good opportunity for the private sector partnerships. Many partnerships have already been formed in NSW, said Dr Zoran. One area they are looking at is bringing telemedicine into people’s homes.
“If you extrapolate what you are doing between the larger hospitals and the smaller hospitals, similarly, you can go into people’s homes and enable a remote monitoring of patients with chronic illness, so they don’t have to come to the hospital all the time,” shared Dr Zoran.
Ending off with a word of encouragement, Dr Zoran offers, “It is really important to prioritise rural health highly. Develop a good digital plan on how you want to uplift the rural sector. It is also really important to have the local health organisations driving [the initiative].”
“One of the key success factors in our Rural eHealth Program was that the six local health districts which are predominantly rural, are in the driver’s seat. The Chief Executives of those local health districts formed a local eHealth steering committee. They meet every month, work together and prioritise and make decisions together on how they can accelerate. They’ve developed a very good collaborative partnership. That’s been a very key success factor for us. So I recommend partnership collaboration and good governance – that’s the keys.”
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
“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.
Cleveland train users will be the next to benefit as the rollout of the Smart Ticketing system continues. Customers travelling from Central station and Cleveland station will have access to the system from 30 November 2022. Queensland’s Minister for Transport and Main Roads stated that the AU$ 371 million project continued to gather pace, with Cleveland line customers now having more ways to pay.
He said that delivering better public transport services for Queenslanders is not just about acquiring more trains or buses but about making it easier for people to use the trains without barriers. This trial allows adult customers to use their credit card, debit card, smartphone, or smartwatch to pay for their train journey – meaning you do not need to think before hopping on a train, you can just tap and go.
The Member for Capalaba stated that the system would put Queensland on par with major cities like London, Singapore, and New York. He said that record levels of investment in the region mean that commuters can get home safer and sooner, spending more time with family and friends.
Meanwhile, the Member for Lytton encouraged commuters to use the new system. She said that there is no doubt this trial is proving to be immensely popular with public transport users. She looks forward to seeing the rollout extend onto local buses, which is set to take place next year.
The project will replace 1300 fixed devices and 12,000 onboard readers to bring 18 different payment systems across the regional bus network together under one Smart Ticketing umbrella. Whether commuters are visiting family and friends in Cairns, Bowen, Rockhampton or Bundaberg, there will be one seamless way to pay.
The Member for Bulimba praised the success of the trial, which had already clocked up more than two million trips. She said that commuters and tourists alike are finding it easy to use, and we’ve seen incredible numbers tap on and off using the system since it began.
The region will continue to develop the system to bring concession card holders onboard while also encouraging those who travel at a discounted rate to continue using the go card for the time being.
The Member for Greenslopes noted that the expansion added new destinations to the Smart Ticketing map, adding that this is another crucial step toward rolling out the system across the South East Queensland heavy rail network, following on from trials already underway.
Next, the South Brisbane and South Bank transport hubs will begin the rollout of the Smart Ticketing system. This will connect the area to the hospital and health precinct as well as South Bank businesses.
Smart Ticketing is already operational on the Ferny Grove, Ipswich/Rosewood, Springfield Central, Sunshine Coast/Caboolture, Redcliffe Peninsula, Doomben and Shorncliffe train lines. Next, it will launch at the Airport, Beenleigh, and Gold Coast lines, enabling customers to interconnect from the Gold Coast Light Rail through to Brisbane CBD and the airport, with buses and ferries set to follow next year.
Train users who prefer to pay with their go card will be able to continue doing so. Customers travelling on a child or concession fare should continue to use their go card for now, as should customers travelling to or from destinations not yet using the trial, or anyone using a connecting bus or ferry service.
What is smart ticketing?
Smart Ticketing is an innovative ticketing technology that enables more ways to pay for public transport across Queensland. Over time, more Queenslanders will be able to pay for travel with contactless payment methods using a Visa, Mastercard and American Express debit card, credit card, smartphone, or smart device. As a long-term project, the aim is to have more Queenslanders tap on and off to conveniently pay for everyday travel on train, tram, bus, and ferry.
The Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Tan See Leng, and the Republic of Korea (RoK) Minister for Trade, Dukgeun Ahn, have signed the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement (KSDPA).
Under the agreement, the two sides will work to establish digital trade rules and norms to promote interoperability between digital systems. This will enable more seamless cross-border data flows and build a trusted and secure digital environment for businesses and consumers. A government press release wrote that KSDPA will also deepen bilateral cooperation in new emerging areas such as personal data protection, e-payments, artificial intelligence, and source code protection.
The Ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Implementing the Korea-Singapore Digital Economy Dialogue, which will act as a platform to promote digital economy collaboration between industry players and academic experts from both sides. The MoU is part of bilateral efforts to develop cooperative projects to implement the KSDPA. Key features of the KSDPA include:
Facilitating end-to-end digital trade
Electronic Payments (e-payments): The two sides will adopt transparent and facilitative rules (e.g. encouraging open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)) to promote secure cross-border e-payments.
Paperless Trading: Singapore and RoK will accept electronic versions of trade administration documents to support the digitalisation and seamless exchange of key commercial documents.
Open Government Data: Both countries will ensure that government data will be publicly available in a machine-readable and open format, with easy-to-use and freely available APIs.
Enabling trusted data flows
Cross-border Data Flows (including for financial services): Businesses in Singapore and RoK will be allowed to transfer information, including those which are generated or held by financial institutions, across borders if the requisite regulations are met and with adequate personal data protection safeguards in place.
Prohibiting Data Localisation: The two nations will establish rules against data localisation requirements so that businesses can choose where their data is stored and processed, and their cloud technology of choice.
Facilitate trust in digital systems and participation in the Digital Economy
Artificial Intelligence (AI): The countries will promote the adoption of AI governance and ethical frameworks that support the trusted, safe, and responsible use of AI-based technologies.
Cryptography: Neither country will require the transfer of or access to private keys and related technologies, as a condition of market access.
Source Code Protection: To ensure software developers can trust the market within which they operate and ensure that source code is protected, neither country will require the transfer of, or access to, source code as a condition of market access. This includes the algorithm expressed in the source code.
Online Consumer Protection: The two sides will adopt laws that guard against fraudulent or deceptive conduct that causes harm to consumers engaged in online commercial activities.
Small and Medium Enterprises Cooperation: Singapore and RoK will promote jobs and growth for SMEs. They will also encourage their participation in platforms that help link them with international suppliers, buyers, and other potential business partners.
Digital Identities: The countries will promote interoperability of digital identity regimes, which can lead to reliable identity verification and the faster processing of applications. This will enable businesses and consumers to navigate the digital economy with ease and security.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) and an IT service management company jointly launched the “Idea Launcher” co-ideation initiative to foster and accelerate innovation and technology (I&T) development in Hong Kong through extensive support, mentoring and coaching to help early-stage start-ups nurture innovative ideas and research projects.
The project is another addition to HKTSP’s co-incubation mission with sector leaders, with the Idea Launcher being the first partnership with a corporate leader under HKSTP’s IDEATION Programme. The IT service management company collaborate closely with HKSTP to specifically support the development of early-stage ideas from emerging start-ups and next-generation entrepreneurs.
The Idea Launcher continues the strategic collaboration that the two parties began earlier this year, covering the four key pillars of Research & Development, Technology Simulation, Co-incubation, and Talent and Culture Cultivation. It is a six-month co-ideation initiative that provides early-stage start-ups and entrepreneurs with technical training, business consulting, capabilities assessment as well as project feasibility to optimise start-up solutions and concepts.
HKSTP will offer HK$ 100,000 in seed funding and incubation training to selected start-ups, while the IT service management company will provide tailor-made AWS innovation culture workshops to help start-ups build up their innovation capacity. Programme participants will also receive up to US$ 25,000 in the IT service management company’s cloud resources, as well as technical support and training through their Program, set up especially to help start-ups optimise their business models and fuel future development.
The Head of Business Development at the IT service management company’s Hong Kong and Macau branch stated that with its established start-up ecosystems and investment development teams in Hong Kong and beyond, the firm gathers talent with investment institution backgrounds and entrepreneurial experience that is geared to supporting start-ups throughout their growth cycle. He noted that the company looks forward to deepening its partnership with HKSTP to advance local start-ups and propel Hong Kong on its journey to international I&T hub status.
The Chief Corporate Development Officer of HKSTP stated in partnering with one of the world’s largest and most iconic start-ups, HKSTP is ready to elevate Hong Kong’s talented entrepreneurs onto the global stage.
About the IDEATION programme
The IDEATION programme was launched by HKSTP in 2019, furthering its support for early-stage research and development projects and innovative ideas. Well-received in the start-up community, the number of participating members and teams in the programme has more than tripled from 60 to over 230.
Start-ups will receive help turning realising their ideas and beginning their entrepreneurial journeys with the Ideation Programme – an up to one-year start-up support programme for tech-focused entrepreneurs. Through the programme, participants can develop the fundamental skills they need to kickstart their businesses. All-round support will be provided from designing a business model to finding investment. Participants will receive guidance along every step of the way, to fine-tune their ideas for technical development.
The programme provides seed funding in the form of a grant worth up to HK$ 100,000; a mentor for business advice; training on a variety of topics including Hong Kong’s start-up ecosystem, business modelling, pitching and investment, and more; access to centre facilities like co-working spaces (subject to availability), and potential to bridging programmes which means participants will be prepared for admission into other HKSTP incubation programmes.
Singapore and the United Kingdom held the 7th UK Singapore Financial Dialogue, where they renewed their commitment to deepening their financial partnership, which was agreed upon in 2021. They also discussed sustainable finance, fintech, and innovation.
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the UK-Singapore FinTech Bridge, which is based on an agreement signed in 2016, which removes barriers to fintech trade by opening new regular talks between regulators and businesses. The FinTech Bridge will build on the active interest of fintech players in the areas of payments, regulatory technology, and wealth management. It will also provide a structured engagement that will aid the development of policy actions, enhance assessments of emerging issues, such as the development of distributed ledger technologies and data sharing, and support trade and investment flow between respective markets.
According to a press release, the countries recognised the importance of the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA), which was signed earlier this year. They exchanged views on recent developments in the fintech sector, including advancements in crypto-assets, and agreed on priority areas for further cooperation. They shared their latest assessments of market developments, opportunities, trends, and longer-term expectations for the crypto-assets sector.
Further, the risks and challenges relating to financial stability and regulatory arbitrage were discussed. They shared their progress in strengthening rules on consumer protection and developing the regulation of stablecoins. Both sides agreed there is a strong need to support the safe development of a digital assets ecosystem while ensuring that risks posed by digital assets are consistently managed.
They will continue to actively participate in the shaping of robust global regulatory practices through engagement within international multilateral fora such as the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI), and the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
Regarding digital payments, Singapore provided updates on the progress of its review of e-wallet caps and the expected next steps. The event covered the recently released consultation, with the UK providing views on the key proposals. Singapore also updated on the new digital banks that recently launched their operations in Singapore.
Moreover, the sides have agreed to a roadmap for activities in sustainable finance, fintech and innovation, and other areas of mutual interest, leading up to the next Dialogue scheduled to take place in London in 2023.
The Financial Dialogue was co-chaired by the Deputy Managing Director (Markets and Development) of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Leong Sing Chiong, and the Director General (Financial Services) of HM Treasury (HMT), Gwyneth Nurse.
Two industry-led UK-Singapore business roundtables on sustainable finance and FinTech took place on 24 November 2022. Industry participants from both countries participated in this discussion. The sustainable finance Roundtable examined the implementation challenges faced by corporates in meeting their net zero targets, and how the financial industry could help to address these challenges. The FinTech Roundtable discussed the opportunities and challenges faced by FinTech firms, and how these firms could better access overseas markets, including by partnering with financial institutions.