OpenGov spoke to Mr. Mehis Sihvart, Director of the Centre of Registers and Information Systems (RIK) in Estonia.
Mr. Mehis Sihvart has extensive experience in the development and implementation of efficient e-governance solutions. He has been heading the Centre of Registers and Information Systems of Estonia (RIK) since 2010. Over the years, Mr. Sihvart has led numerous projects related to court information systems, e-File – a central case management system etc. Moreover, he was responsible for centralizing IT-governance in the Ministry of Justice of Estonia.
RIK is a state agency under the Ministry of Justice of Estonia and its services range from workstation management to development and management of special information systems. Mr. Sihvart explained, “We take care of hardware and we also develop different information systems, like real estate registry and court information systems and so on.”
RIK has developed and administers over 70 different systems and various registers important both for the state and the citizens, including the e-Business Register (there is an European Business Register, offered as an additional service of the e-Business Register, which provides official information about European companies), e-Land Register, e-File, Courts’ Information System and e-Notary Information System.
RIK is also the central ICT procurement body for the Estonian government. The procurement for equipment such as workstations, laptops, printers is mandatorily centralised. For the rest, it is optional. If the agencies desire so, they can do it through RIK or they can give out contracts on their own.
Mr. Sihvart has been with the Ministry of Justice since the year 2000. ICT was centralised into the Ministry of Justice ICT department. Mr. Sihvart’s department took over all the ICT staff and budget from the prosecutor’s office, prisons and so on. He was the development lead of the centralised department.
In 2005, a decision was taken by the Minister of Justice to create a separate institution called Centre of Registers and Information Systems which we see today. It was mostly done because of the overheads incurred. The Ministry of Justice secretary-general was having to sign all the ICT contracts. Dealing with ICT matters for all the administrative domains was consuming too much time for the top management at the Ministry. So, a separate institution was created in 2006.
Mr. Sihvart highlighted the importance of support from the top level of leadership, “We had very strong support from our secretary-general which made the process easy. We centralised all the infrastructure and services all over Estonia over a period of 2 years. We added more institutions subsequently. Today, we actually provide ICT services not only to the Ministry of Justice administration but also, the Ministry of Culture and some others.”
Ongoing projects- Data Embassy and E-residency
Currently, RIK is working on the Data Embassy project, trying to create the data embassies within two years.
According to a ‘Summary Report of the Research Project on Public Cloud Usage for Government’ Data Embassy will consist of a three-part solution comprising: i) maintenance of data backups and live services within Estonia’s borders (Government Operated Cloud); ii) backups at physical Estonian embassy locations or dedicated data centres in allied countries chosen by the government (Physical Data Embassy); and iii) backups of non-sensitive data in private companies’ public cloud (Virtual Data Embassy).
For creating official data embassies outside Estonian borders, the agency has to deal with the technical and legal framework. There are significant potential risks if the implementation is not done properly. For instance, since 2010, all national legal acts are made public only in electronic form in Estonia in the State Gazette, a portal where all the laws are published. If something is published in the Estonian State Gazette, it’s official. If somebody forcibly takes over the registry, then the laws are being published from the Data Embassy, they still have to be legally valid.
Mr. Sihvart elaborated, “These are quite complicated scenarios. We can think through all the technical details but then we also have to understand how we regulate by law, deal with international laws or how you should change the law for this kind of scenario. For us, this is definitely one of the biggest projects during the next 2 years.”
Some potential issues highlighted in this report include sovereignty, data protection, data custodianship, diplomatic protection, consular protection, and sovereign immunity. Many international laws pre-date the Internet and additional work between governments might be needed to address previously unanticipated circumstances. The report points out that this is a complex area, particularly as a sovereign owns the data. Although Estonia would have well-founded arguments that its data is protected from compelled disclosure, the untested state of the law makes it impossible to be certain whether a claim of international legal protection would be respected, either by the host state or by third-countries. Whether the protection afforded is that of an embassy or consular facility and whether Estonia seeks protection as an extension of the sovereign state itself also pose challenges.
E-residency is another big ongoing project for Estonia. People can apply and get their Estonian digital ID through the Internet. Currently, E-Residents can digitally sign documents and contracts, verify the authenticity of signed documents, encrypt and transmit documents securely, establish an Estonian company online and administer the company from anywhere in the world, conduct e-banking and remote money transfers, access online payment service providers and declare Estonian taxes online.
Mr. Sihvart said that the government is opening up different services, and making them more convenient for use by foreigners.
Challenges- Security and human resources
We asked Mr. Sihvart about the challenges faced in providing ICT services to such a broad domain of ministries. In line with one of the top concerns of digital governments around the world, the first challenge he mentioned was security. He said that today everyone has to think about security, about how to keep the data secure.
Several registries in Estonia, such as the real estate registry, are fully digital and readily available. There are no paper versions. If the registry says this house belongs to me, and somebody else tries to say that he has a contradictory paper, the digital version supersedes the paper document in evidentiary value. If the data is manipulated, the implications are huge. Therefore, protecting this data is of paramount importance.
“The main risk is human, that somebody will make a human error or somebody will be forced to do something or data leaked because of a phishing email. “You can monitor the technical risks, you can always buy good protection. But the human factor poses the biggest risk. So, employee education is very important. Every employee should understand the implications of making a mistake of manipulating data,” Mr. Sihvart explained.
The second challenge Mr. Sihvart spoke about was human resources, getting qualified and motivated employees. This is also a common problem for the ICT sector around the world.
Inter-government data sharing
The databases in the two countries can interface and the systems can communicate by themselves. There is no need to build point-to-point data exchanges or to build a secure channel and agree on data exchange protocols. It enables cross-use of e-services by Estonian and Finnish citizens.
Mr. Sihvart added, “If you are building through the middle-layer data exchange, you just build that one service and if some other institution wants to ask, for example, for information about a specific business, you just open up that service and the information starts to move. If organisations want to make the data usable between different institutions, this kind of middle-layer is the best way to go.”
The European Business Register (EBR) is an additional service of the e-Business Register, offered by RIK. It provides official information about European companies, the quality of the data being guaranteed by the official registry agencies of the member states.
Sharing experience and expertise with foreign governments
The Estonian government and RIK actively participate in collaboration projects. For example, RIK helped to design the Sultanate of Oman registry from scratch. RIK advised on the development project of the entire 3-year project, on how to build technical solutions, how to organise all the institutional work.
The Estonian government has also shared its experiences and learnings with Dubai and some other countries. Mr. Sihvart said, “I think we have managed to help some of the countries to maybe get better than us.”
Major technological trends which could impact RIK
We asked Mr. Sihvart about important technological trends which could impact RIK. In his view, cryptographics and timestamping through Blockchain-like solutions will evolve and play an increasingly important role. As digital data becomes the default and sometimes the only form of data, ensuring the integrity of the data becomes crucial.
He went on to say that the usage of data will grow. Big data isn’t something new, but there will be increasingly intelligent linkages created automatically between data. As computing power grows, advancements in areas such as language processing could have a significant impact on government services.
1 X-Road can be described as the backbone of e-Estonia, which allows the nation’s various e-services databases, both in the public and private sector, to link up and operate in harmony. Originally designed as a a system for making queries to the different databases, it developed into a tool that can also write to multiple databases, transmit large data sets and perform searches across several databases.
Mr. Mehis Shivart is a speaker at the upcoming Singapore OpenGov Leadership Forum.
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.
With the introduction of its Kooha Version 2.0 during the recently held 2022 National Science and Technology Week celebration, the Department of Science and Technology-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) showered photo enthusiasts with helpful tips on interactive smartphone photography.
Kooha is a photo-sharing app derived from the Filipino word “kuha,” which means “to take.” It capitalises on the Philippines’ status as “the selfie capital of the world,” with thousands of photographs shared on various social media platforms every day.
With the help of the camera app Kooha, users may take pictures that go beyond simple snapshots. Multiple sensors are embedded into mobile devices; Kooha uses these sensor data while users snap pictures and embeds them in the image.
Users will be able to quickly learn the location where the photo was shot, the background noise when they shoot a selfie, the network provider’s signal strength, the device battery level, camera settings, environment sensor data, motion sensor, and more. All the photographs captured by the app are shared on Kooha Community. Users’ photos become more than just images when they post them to the community; they become contributions.
When the sensor data from the images is combined with the large pool of sensor data from other users, the data becomes societally important. The data can assist data scientists in generating insights and fresh knowledge that can be used by decision-makers across the country. Kooha is a free app that can be downloaded from Google Play.
According to the DOST-ASTI, Kooha uses the built-in sensors of a mobile device to gather real-time data like sound level, temperature, and humidity and embeds it into a snapshot, making it particularly valuable in research operations across industries thanks to the fresh knowledge it produces.
It added that even more useful Kooha features include the ability to contribute images to the community section, rate shared photos based on “awards” from other users, map the locations of pinned photos, and unlock “badges” by completing specific “achievements.”
As a useful tool application, Kooha reflects the reality that science and the arts may collaborate effectively to produce meaningful results. In addition, the DOST- ASTI’s Quality Management System (QMS) was recertified in accordance with the ISO 9001:2015 standard.
Director of DOST-ASTI Franz A. de Leon stated that the ISO recertification demonstrates the DOST-ASTI’s dedication to continuously enhance its operations and assure successful service delivery – bringing science and technology closer to the people.
He added that their partners and stakeholders can be confident that the institute will constantly offer high-quality products and services because they adhere to the quality policy of developing relevant, timely, and impactful ICT- and electronics-based innovations.
The ISO certificate was the result of the DOST-ASTI management and staff’s collaborative efforts to expand its technologies and ensure the smooth execution of its mandate and functions. Reviewing and improving processes is critical to achieving the agency’s purpose of contributing to the achievement of national development priorities and the growth of Philippine firms through the provision of creative solutions centred on ICT and electronics technology.
This is DOST-ASTI’s second recertification since transitioning to the ISO 9001:2015 standard in 2018. Subject to regular surveillance assessments, the certificate is valid until November 2025.
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.