The healthcare industry is changing rapidly; several new companies are entering the industry and are becoming significant contributors to it. Business models of companies are being modified and new partnerships are beginning to emerge.
And all of it is happening because of the Internet of Things and other technologies like cloud-based services and big-data; it is happening because the world is becoming more digital, more connected and more data intensive every day.
The “Internet of Things” in healthcare has made it possible for people to manage their health personally through solutions like RFID (radio frequency identification) tags and electronic health records, for healthcare providers to cater to the needs of their patients leading to improved lives for all involved.
Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), the public healthcare IT shared services provider and subsidiary of Ministry of Health Holdings (MOHH), helps integrate IT into health care services and operations across Singapore. As the Singapore healthcare ecosystem is fairly complex, there is a great demand for more efficient and expedited services.
IHIS hosts a bevy of tech solutions and gadgets, specifically catered to the health industry. There are different solutions created for patients and healthcare staff. Some of which include:, Outpatient Pharmacy Automated System, Digital Pathology System, Real-Time Ambulatory Patient Information Deployment Enabler (RAPIDE) system, Electronic Health Intelligence System, Tele-Geriatics, Mobile Apps, and other such services.
OpenGov recently got the chance to catch up with Mr. James Chia, Director of Corporate Strategy and Business Performance, IHIS, to talk about the Health IT Masterplan, how IHIS is contributing to the Smart Nation vision, and what their plans are, for the near future.
On the Health IT Masterplan
Mr. Chia also holds another portfolio in MOHH, being part of the Health IT Masterplan team. In both his capacities, Mr. Chia can draw alignment between the two bodies, IHIS and MOHH.
Since the Masterplan was conceived less than 2 years ago, it has prepared the health industry for the 2020 vision towards a smart healthcare system.
In arguing how technology can help achieve what is laid out in the Health IT Masterplan, Mr. Chia said, “There are many capabilities identified in the Health IT Masterplan that we need to develop or enhance. These capabilities are at different stages of maturity. For example, Big Data Analytics, with respect to healthcare, is still in the early stages of widespread adoption.” He explains that we can use this information to determine the right level of care for patients across the country.
“Health IT is a critical enabler for the healthcare sector to achieve the 3 objectives of making healthcare in Singapore more affordable, accessible, and of good quality.” said Mr. Chia, “Striving towards a healthy population, we are taking steps to better understand the health of our population. This requires us to learn more about our population segments, who are the people at risk, and for those at risk, how can we intervene early as well as motivate them to stay healthy.”
Mr. Chia shared that Singapore has the highest density of HIMSS EMRAM Stage 6 hospitals in Asia. The HIMSS EMRAM award is an international benchmark for the use of advanced IT to improve patient care. Tracking their progress in completing eight stages (0-7), hospitals can review the implementation and utilisation of information technology applications with the intent of reaching Stage 7, which represents an advanced electronic patient record environment. Currently, there are 25 acute care facilities in Asia Pacific at Stage 6 and three at Stage 7. Explaining that achieving IT excellence in hospitals is not an end itself, “We are moving away from episodic care towards care delivery that is coordinated around the patient. That is why we need ensure that our clinicians and medical staff will be adequately IT equipped regardless which care setting the patient turns up in.” says Mr. Chia, “In other words, our scope and efforts include primary care, intermediate and long term care, in addition to acute hospital care.”
“What is fundamental for this to work? Information flow. Right now, we are in the midst of enabling seamless flow of patient information across the healthcare providers. Beyond this, to make this vision work, we must make sure the providers know enough about the patients such that repeated questions and tests can be avoided, allowing doctors to spend more time on diagnosis and treatment while saving patients time and money.
Aligning to the Health IT Masterplan, IHIS is looking at progressively providing more common platforms across care providers and patients for greater interoperability and unified user experience. “This would ensure that the information collected within the community, can form part of a continuity of care record around each patient. In case of an emergency, such information can be accessed so that the attending doctor can be adequately informed and appropriate care can be delivered to the patient.”
How do you plan to use data?
The partnership between IHIS and big data analytics is in a nascent stage but they are looking to develop this very rapidly. Through the Electronic Health Intelligence System (eHINTS) and Business Information (BI) System, they are hoping to facilitate more informed decision making, improve operational efficiency, resource allocation and cost management.
To consolidate data, the eHINTS system cleanses and standardises data before uploading for decision-support, while the BI System classifies data by subject areas to prepare for analysis. “IHIS is focusing our efforts to harness intelligence and insights from our wealth of data to improve clinical care and operations. First, we try to make sure we provide the data in as much of a uniform manner as possible,” Mr. Chia tells us.
“From there, statistical analysis and techniques like data mining, scenario modeling can play a big difference in how we make care more effective and more efficient,” Mr. Chia said.
“Undergirding all that, we need to have integrated systems that pull the right information from multiple credible sources in a timely manner,” stated Mr. Chia, “Then we can turn that data into insights to help both our management team and frontline colleagues make informed decisions.”
Health Mobile Apps and Service Virtualisation
Service virtualisation is an area where IHIS has introduced several mobile platforms to cater to healthcare needs. Their range of mobile applications includes AsthmaCare Buddy, Thought Buddy, iCom, Patient Communicator, miHealthcare, Nurses Pal, and GPFirst Aide.
IHIS sees mobile apps as an area they can use to ‘nudge’ people towards behaviours that promote healthier living, due to the rise of mobile activity. The use of behavioural science and gamification create these opportunities for interactive and responsive patient actions.
For example, the Gacha Island app features games that simulate “killing” of monsters (substituting for mental illnesses). This conveys that people need an arsenal of tools, such as social support, to deal with mental health issues. Another app, called MyEyeDrops, reminds glaucoma and cornea patients to apply eye drops and medication. MyEyeDrops also keeps a diary to record the frequency and intensity of their disease to facilitate management by their doctors.
IHIS has also developed mobile apps to give support to Healthcare staff. Nurses Pal, for example, helps nurse aids more quickly adjust patients’ intravenous drips, manage bedsores and prevent falls.
IHIS is driven towards greater service virtualisation as they foresee it will help optimize the land space at hand. Singapore is not a large nation, this requires us to utilise our resources to the best of their ability. Service virtualisation and mobile app service delivery allows this to happen.
“This should be transparent to the consumer in most cases,” Mr. Chia asserts, “As a system it is quite important, considering the scarce resources we have today. Virtualisation of services allows for the scale up of capabilities and capacities without incurring more land space or more resources. At the same time we are optimising the land space, today’s technology can allow the same hardware to run multiple servers, applications, service resources, and all within the same land space.”
Impact on Citizens of the Future
In relation to Smart Nation, one objective of IHIS is to help empower the people of Singapore. This means that Smart Health should be proactively delivered, integrated, and personalized. Through these factors, an individual will be empowered to take healthcare into their own hands.
“We want people to not only live longer, but also healthier,” said Mr. Chia. Mr. Chia implores how the health industry can motivate and equip people with the right tools to think about daily health decisions. “We are hoping that we can move into the age where long gone will be the days where we are heavily dependent on others for our own health and well-being,” says Mr. Chia.
Today, we are already living in a healthcare system of the future. Our calendar alerts and online health records are just two ways that we access healthcare resources through technology. IHIS is directing its efforts towards capitalizing on the added advantage of integrating technology into the healthcare system.
Since 2008, IHIS has been raising the bar when it comes to bringing technology in clinical spaces. As Mr. Chia puts it, technology is not an end in itself, improving the health of our people is at the heart of all we do. IHIS continuously try to help the country ‘move forward in unison’ by leveling up IT capabilities in our healthcare organisations so that we can deliver citizen-centred care as one national healthcare system.
As a vital arm of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) holds a pivotal role as one of the three sectoral planning councils within the organisation.
Founded on 29 June 2010, PCIEERD is distinguished by its unique commitment to driving research and development initiatives, particularly in the industries, energy, and emerging technology sectors.
Functioning as a pivotal agency, DOST-PCIEERD takes a central role in crafting policies, plans, and programmes, along with implementing strategies in the designated sectors. The execution of these initiatives is facilitated through a spectrum of Science and Technology (S&T) programmes designed to promote innovation and progress.
Encompassing a broad spectrum, DOST-PCIEERD extends research and development (R&D) support across 21 sectors, broadly categorised under industry, energy, emerging technology, and special concerns.
The council plays a crucial role in disseminating and promoting S&T information, undertaking sustained programmes for information dissemination. This proactive approach aims to enhance the accessibility and utilisation of information and research results by the diverse array of customers and stakeholders associated with the sectors.
In its commitment to fostering growth, DOST-PCIEERD dedicates efforts to developing and enhancing R&D and support capabilities. This forward-looking perspective ensures the fulfilment of present and future human resource and institutional requirements.
Moreover, the council actively contributes to technological advancement by adopting, transferring, and commercialising available technologies. In doing so, DOST-PCIEERD plays a vital role in propelling the nation’s scientific and technological landscape towards greater heights.
Driving Innovation and Industry Development
In an exclusive interview with OpenGov Asia, Dr Enrico C. Paringit, Executive Director of DOST-PCIEERD, sheds light on compelling projects that underscore the council’s significant influence on research and development in the realms of industry, energy, and emerging technology.
At the forefront of catalysing research and development in the Philippines, DOST-PCIEERD has been a driving force behind diverse programmes and initiatives. Launched in 2015, the Infrastructure Development Programme (IDP) has emerged as a cornerstone, playing a pivotal role in the expansion or modernisation of academic and research institutions.
Under the Infrastructure Development Programme (IDP), DOST-PCIEERD has actively spearheaded initiatives encompassing the acquisition of cutting-edge laboratory facilities, state-of-the-art equipment, and specialised software. Between 2015 to 2023, this strategic investment, totalling Php234.4 million (S$6.31 million), has yielded transformative outcomes, facilitating the establishment and enhancement of 49 laboratories across the nation. This concerted effort reflects the commitment to fortify research capabilities and foster innovation within academic and research institutions.
In line with the DOST Halal Policy, the DOST Halal S&T Programme was initiated to support the development of the Halal industry. This programme focuses on research and development, technology transfer, human resource development, and Halal verification through laboratory testing. Additionally, efforts have been directed towards fortifying the Filipino Halal sector to meet global benchmarks, enhance competitiveness, and improve research and development.
Dr Enrico explains that the Food Safety Programme, Food Innovation Centres, and Natural Dyes facilities have been established to strengthen the food industry and improve the living standards of Filipino people. The commitment extends to bolstering the country’s manufacturing industry by providing cutting-edge facilities for specialised testing, designing, and research and development in key sectors like food, electronics, and materials.
Under the OneLab Programme, regional testing facilities have been consolidated into a unified network, providing easy access to a global network of public and private laboratories for analytical and calibration needs. This initiative promotes collaboration among students, researchers, and industry stakeholders, with information accessible through the onelab.ph website.
The National Metrology Laboratory (NML) leads metrology efforts in the Philippines and has achieved international recognition. However, continued support is required for the expansion of Calibration and Measurement Capabilities (CMCs) to maintain competence globally.
Dr Enrico reveals that the establishment of the Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory (ADMATEL) marks the country’s first electronics design facility, aimed at reinforcing and upgrading failure analysis and materials testing facilities to attract potential investors and promote a conducive business environment.
The Electronics Product Development Centre (EPDC) serves as the national testing facility, providing design, prototyping, and testing facilities for printed circuit boards. The goal is to support companies and schools in developing hardware and software for electronics products.
The Advanced Manufacturing Centre (AMCen), on the other hand, has been established as the national centre of excellence in additive manufacturing, focusing on areas like Aerospace and Defense, Pharmaceutical/Healthcare, Novel Electronics, Agriculture, and Automotive.
In addition, the renewable energy projects include a micro-hydro turbine research and testing facility in Morong, Rizal, supporting off-grid electrification for communities. The Mindanao Renewable Energy Centre (MREC) focuses on Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Ocean Renewable Energy (ORE) facilities, aiming to harness energy from solar power and simulate tidal and wave characteristics.
To serve as a bridge between R&D and commercialisation, the Funding Assistance for Spin-off and Translation of Research in Advancing Commercialisation (FASTRAC) Programme supports technologies such as USHER, CharM, FISH_I, Smart Surface, CATCH-ALL, Marine Nanocoat, Monascus Red Colorant, Fruitect, HormoGroe, Gitara ni Juan, X-LIPAD, MapX, Vigormin, and others.
Embedded in the ethos of DOST, a circular economy mindset takes centre stage, underscoring a dedication to initiatives that champion environmental stewardship and optimal resource utilisation. Positioned as a key tenet within the DOST framework, this pledge manifests in the backing of projects geared towards converting waste materials into valuable and sustainable resources.
A notable example is the successful initiative led by the Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI), wherein an in-depth analysis of dredged material from the Tullahan River was undertaken to investigate alternative applications. This project exemplifies a forward-thinking strategy in tackling environmental issues by repurposing materials that would otherwise contribute to waste, showcasing a commitment to sustainable solutions and resourcefulness.
The University of Mindanao is leading another remarkable sustainable initiative, centring on the transformation of durian rinds into 3D printing filaments. This inventive project not only addresses waste reduction but also taps into the potential of agricultural by-products, underscoring a steadfast commitment to sustainability and resource optimisation.
“At the core of our mission, we prioritise environmental sustainability, ensuring that our operations, activities, and programmes are conducted with a steadfast commitment to minimising adverse impacts on the environment,” Dr Enrico states.
Recognising the importance of ecological responsibility, PCIERRD incorporates environmental considerations as a pivotal metric in the assessment of proposals. This approach underscores its unwavering commitment to nurturing initiatives that adhere to the principles of environmental conservation and responsible stewardship.
Dedicated to environmental stewardship, the agency proactively pursues a science and technology roadmap for tackling and mitigating challenges related to waste management. Under the leadership of Dr Enrico, PCIERRD aims to assume a pivotal role in shaping sustainable practices that advocate for the responsible use and disposal of resources.
Demonstrating a responsible use of resources through its life cycle, PCIERRD fulfils its mandate to actively support the Clean Air Act (RA8749). By championing the implementation of this key legislation, the agency contributes significantly to promoting clean air standards and mitigating air pollution, aligning its efforts with broader initiatives that prioritise the health of both the environment and local communities.
“Through these multifaceted approaches, we strive to be proactive stewards of the environment, integrating sustainability principles into the fabric of the industrial operations; thereby promoting responsible practices within the realm of science and technology,” Dr Enrico emphasises.
The success of PCIERRD can be attributed in part to its ability to develop talent and inspire upcoming researchers and innovators to advance the country’s technological frontiers. In 2017, the country witnessed the launch of the Young Innovators Programme (YIP), designed as an inclusive platform for highly talented high school students aspiring to gain research experience.
The programme invites these young minds to gain experience in research under the guidance of mentors, facilitating hands-on learning and fostering a spirit of scientific inquiry. The objective of YIP is to equip and prepare these young researchers to undertake independent research endeavors, supported by funding allocated to innovative research projects.
Since its inception, the Young Innovators Programme has made significant strides in cultivating a new era of scientific exploration and inventive breakthroughs within the country. A total of Php37 million (SG$1 million) in funding has been disbursed across 56 approved projects, providing vital resources for these young innovators to bring their ideas to fruition.
The programme’s impact extends beyond financial support, contributing to the development of a vibrant community of budding scientists and researchers who are poised to make meaningful contributions to the scientific landscape in the years to come.
Nurturing Ingenuity Through Partnerships
According to Dr Enrico, engaging with diverse stakeholders is at the core of their approach as they strive to meet the evolving needs of the 21 sectors under its support. Through focused initiatives such as focus group discussions and consultation, they actively seek input from industry stakeholders, research institutions, and government agencies.
“This collaborative process allows us to gain valuable insights into the specific requirements and challenges faced by each sector, informing the direction of our research and development endeavours,” Dr Enrico explains.
Beyond external engagement, PCIEERD places considerable emphasis on internal feedback mechanisms. Tools such as the Research Fairness Survey and the R&D Customer Preference Survey serve as valuable means to directly collect insights from researchers. This two-way communication approach ensures that the perspectives and experiences of those actively engaged in the research process are taken into account, fostering an environment of continuous improvement and responsiveness within the organisation.
Collaboration remains a cornerstone of their strategy, and they actively cultivate partnerships with industry stakeholders. Through a range of programmes, such as the Expert Intervention for Scientific Engagement (ExperTiSE) programme, Regional Research Institutions (RRI), research attachments and expert visits, PCIEERD creates avenues for meaningful cooperation.
These collaborative initiatives not only enhance the effectiveness of the research but also contribute to the broader goal of fostering innovation and sustainable development across diverse sectors.
Furthermore, DOST-PCIEERD recognises the pivotal role of international alliances and partnerships, strategically emphasising their significance in advancing research and development in the fields of industry, energy, and emerging technology.
This concerted effort is driven by a commitment to contribute to the growth of scientific knowledge, facilitate technology transfer, spur economic development, and enhance the capacity to address global challenges effectively.
International partnerships provide a crucial avenue for knowledge exchange, where foreign counterparts and experts bring expertise that exposes Filipino researchers to cutting-edge technologies, methodologies, and the sharing of best practices.
Such exposure not only enhances the skills of local researchers, rendering them more competitive on the international stage but also unlocks new opportunities for commercialising innovative technologies in the global market. Consequently, it bridges the gap between research and market application, facilitating technology pathways that contribute to economic growth through income and job creation.
Several notable international engagements exemplify the commitment of DOST-PCIEERD to fostering global collaborations. Among them, the e-ASIA initiative stands out – a multilateral international joint effort involving public funding organisations from East Asia Summit (EAS) member countries.
Additionally, the Southeast Asia-Europe Joint Funding Scheme for Research and Innovation (SEA-EU JFS) facilitates joint funding of bi-regional, multi-lateral research and innovation projects, fostering cooperation between Southeast Asia and Europe.
Joint efforts such as the UKRI-NERC initiative address specific challenges, exemplified by the “Sustainable Mineral Resources in the Philippines” programme. This collaborative effort aims to fund research that offers a comprehensive perspective on mineral production in the Philippines and address environmental issues associated with legacy and abandoned mines.
Another noteworthy effort is the UKRI-JST-DOST ‘Science, Technology and Action’ Nexus for Development (STAND) Collaboration, which seeks to foster international research interaction and exchange among researchers in Japan, the United Kingdom, and Southeast Asia. This collaboration focuses on projects contributing to sustainable development in Southeast Asia, aligning with the broader goals of knowledge sharing and capacity building on a global scale.
Public-private partnerships have also contributed to the advancement of industry, energy, and emerging technology in the country. In June 2023, PCIEERD took a significant step forward in fortifying its collaboration with the mining industry by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.
This partnership encompasses three key areas aimed at fostering advancements and sustainability within the mining sector.
Firstly, there is a focus on the collaborative drafting of a nickel roadmap, with active consultation involving both mining industries and key government agencies. This initiative aims to chart a strategic course for the nickel industry, ensuring alignment with industry needs and national development goals.
Another crucial facet of the partnership involves an increased emphasis on research related to green minerals, particularly in anticipation of their translation into components for Electric Vehicles (EVs). This forward-looking approach aligns with the global shift towards sustainable and environmentally friendly technologies, positioning the mining industry to play a pivotal role in the emerging green economy.
Additionally, the collaborative efforts extend to the improvement of energy efficiency and the promotion of renewable energy within the mining sector. By addressing these critical aspects, the partnership endeavours to enhance the sustainability and environmental impact of mining operations, aligning with broader goals of responsible resource utilisation and energy conservation.
PCIEERD maintains an ongoing and fruitful partnership with the Philippine Technological Council (PTC), a non-stock, non-profit private organisation. The collaboration with PTC unfolds through its accreditation service, serving as a mechanism to facilitate capstone projects and promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) initiatives.
This sustained partnership underscores PCIEERD’s commitment to advancing technological excellence, education, and innovation within the Philippines, fostering a collaborative ecosystem that transcends industry boundaries for the greater benefit of scientific and technological progress.
Unveiling Key Strategies
Dr Enrico reveals the key strategic priorities and initiatives he is focusing on as the Executive Director of PCIEERD to foster innovation and drive industry development in the Philippines.
“Guided by the Harmonised National Research and Development Agenda (HNRDA) for the period 2022-2028, our research initiatives are intricately woven into a framework that aligns with the broader vision encapsulated in AmBisyon Natin 2040,” Dr Enrico highlights.
Envisioning a promising future for Filipinos, the HNRDA is anchored in the pillars of Malasakit, Pagbabago, and Kaunlaran, which collectively advocate for inclusive growth, a resilient society, and the cultivation of a competitive knowledge economy.
In pursuit of these aspirations, PCIERRD has embarked on pioneering programmes aimed at revolutionising the local transport systems. Spearheaded by the ELECTROMOBILITY R&D Centre, and R&D Centre for Advanced Batteries, these initiatives focus on the development and implementation of electric vehicles and enhancing advanced battery technology.
These efforts align with the priorities of the Comprehensive Roadmap for the Electric Vehicle Industry (CREVI). Additionally, PCIERRD has several initiatives on maritime transport on the electrification of boats and ferries.
“This strategic move reflects our commitment to advancing sustainable and eco-friendly solutions in the domain of transportation,” Dr Enrico furthers. “Our commitment extends to the empowerment of local governance through the implementation of the Smart Cities initiative.”
Significant transformations have been realised in cities such as Baguio, Cauayan, Iloilo, and Butuan, where the integration of smart technologies has contributed to improved urban living. The success of these endeavours has prompted an expansion of the programme beyond cities, reaching into various communities as part of our ongoing efforts to create more inclusive and technologically empowered environments.
Recognising the critical role of startups in driving innovation, PCIERRD actively supports the startup ecosystem through the Startup Grant Fund. The comprehensive programmes assist startups throughout their journey, from the initial ideation phase to full commercialisation. By nurturing and facilitating the growth of startups, they contribute to the dynamism of the entrepreneurial landscape and the overall economic development of the region.
Dr Enrico underscores in the domain of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the DOST endeavours are guided by a comprehensive 2019-2029 R&D Programme Framework. This strategic blueprint delineates a path to ensure the Philippines remains a frontrunner in the global evolution of AI technologies.
The primary thrusts of this initiative span across National Infrastructure, where the DOST has distributed nine High-Performance Computing (HPC) machines to higher education institutions, catalysing the commencement of new AI projects.
The groundwork laid in 2014 with the establishment of the Computing and Archiving Research Environment (CoARE) further bolsters these efforts, providing free access to HPC and Cloud services. The overarching goal is to enhance connectivity and expedite digital transformation by 2024, with a specific target of elevating the PH e-government index to 0.85 by 2029.
The DOST’s dedication to AI extends beyond infrastructure to encompass Capacity Building, where initiatives are undertaken to nurture the skills and expertise necessary for meaningful AI contributions. Simultaneously, the focus on Research and Data initiatives accentuates the commitment to advancing the knowledge frontier in AI.
Additionally, the department actively engages in developing Policies and Stakeholder relationships, ensuring a holistic and forward-looking approach to AI development within the country. This multi-faceted strategy underscores the DOST’s commitment to positioning the Philippines as a key player in the dynamic landscape of AI innovation and progress.
“In our pursuit of ensuring the Philippines’ prominence in technological innovation and sustainable development globally, DOST-PCIEERD employs a multifaceted approach encompassing various strategic initiatives. One pivotal effort involves bridging the gap between academic research and industry through the establishment of Technology Business Incubators (TBIs),” Dr Enrico asserts.
With 54 members in the DOST TBI Network, including 32 industry-based and 22 agriculture- and aquaculture-focused TBIs across Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), the investments since 2018 have totalled Php411 million (SG$11.1 million).
These TBIs have incubated 1,359 startups, generated 5,696 jobs, attracted over Php1.87 billion (SG$50.49 million) in private investments, and produced Php907 million (SG$24.49 million) in startup revenue. Additionally, the TBIs themselves have secured Php118.3 million (SG$3.19 million) in private investments from various partners.
To promote science education in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA), they fund projects such as the Philippine Science Centrum Travelling Exhibit. This initiative, spanning 26 GIDA districts across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, has reached 300,000 students and instructed 4,000 teachers in basic science experiments, enhancing education in these remote areas.
Acknowledging the vital role of women entrepreneurs, initiatives like Women-Helping-Women: Innovative Social Enterprises (WHWise) aims to support and acknowledge women driving economic growth and sustainable development in their communities.
Strategic planning is another cornerstone of the approach, with formulated roadmaps and sectoral strategies for the 21 supported sectors. These roadmaps not only guide the development of specific research programmes but also contribute to the realisation of sustainable development goals.
Collectively, these strategies underscore the commitment to enhancing the country’s competitiveness and productivity in the global landscape of technological innovation and sustainable development, fostering a comprehensive and impactful approach to propel the nation forward.
Nexus of Innovation by 2040
“Our forward-looking vision is rooted in becoming the Nexus of Innovation by the year 2040,” Dr Enrico shares his vision for PCIEERD’s position in the global context in the next three years. “Positioned as a leader in the country’s competitiveness and productivity, we aim to enable science and technology solutions across the industry, energy, and emerging technology sectors, all while upholding the principles of good governance.”
To realise this vision, global collaboration stands as a cornerstone of this strategy. They envision strengthening international partnerships and collaborations with funding institutions worldwide. By engaging with global counterparts, they seek to foster knowledge-sharing, promote cooperation and teamwork, facilitate mutual learning, and collectively drive innovation in the realms of industry, energy, and emerging technologies.
An essential aspect of their approach involves a dedicated focus on investment in Research and Development (R&D). By prioritising R&D investment, they ensure that PCIEERD remains at the forefront of technological advancements in the Industry, Energy, and Emerging (IEE) sectors. This commitment contributes to global innovation efforts and positions the nation as a key player in addressing pressing global challenges through technological solutions.
Their commitment extends to robust mechanisms for technology transfer and commercialisation. By effectively translating the R&D findings and innovations into practical applications and marketable products, they strive to bridge the gap between research outcomes and real-world impact.
“Knowledge dissemination forms another crucial element of our strategy. We are committed to sharing our S&T outputs, technological advancements, and success stories in technology transfer and commercialisation, both locally and globally,” Dr Enrico says emphatically. “This proactive approach ensures that the benefits of our innovations reach diverse audiences, contributing to the broader global knowledge pool.”
In all aspects of their operations, sustainability is a guiding principle. They are committed to using sustainable practices in everything they do, from research to innovations, technology transfers, and commercialisation.
Through their actions, they actively support the preservation of the environment on a global scale and are consistent with larger sustainability objectives, exemplifying a responsible and comprehensive approach to scientific and technological advancement.
“Embracing the role of a scientist is to willingly confront the mysteries of the unknown, and it is this very challenge that captivates me,” says Dr Enrico, who completed his doctorate at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and served as the principal scientist for DOST Project NOAH and the DOST DREAM LIDAR Programme.
Seeking out interesting and meaningful challenges brought him joy. His work at PCIEERD is similar to a large-scale experiment in which he develops theories and verifies them against reality.
He believes that this dynamic process fosters continuous innovation by pushing boundaries and revealing new possibilities. The core values of high integrity, innovation, and excellence serve as guiding principles, propelling the entire PCIEEED led by him to strive for excellence in all that they do.
“We are committed to exploring new ground in science and are constantly looking for ways to offer significant discoveries and solutions that have a long-term impact for the benefit of the whole nation,” Dr Enrico concludes.
In a bid to empower food manufacturers to embrace sustainability, Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) has unveiled the Sustainability Playbook for Food Manufacturers. Announced by Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Grace Fu, this playbook is a key component of the Enterprise Sustainability Programme (ESP), aiming to equip companies with the tools and insights needed for their sustainability journey.
Jeannie Lim, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (Lifestyle & Consumer) at EnterpriseSG, emphasised the imperative for food manufacturers to navigate global supply chain challenges, evolving sustainability regulations, and the rising demand for climate-conscious food products. Jeannie introduced the playbook as a comprehensive guide, offering strategies and resources to help companies incorporate sustainability practices into their operations.
The playbook, part of the ESP series, presents a step-by-step approach for food manufacturers, featuring checklists with recommended starting points for core sustainability strategies and relevant resources. It outlines three fundamental strategies to enhance sustainability:
- Optimising Resources: The playbook advocates for a review of current manufacturing processes to identify opportunities for resource optimisation. Investments in energy-efficient equipment, on-site energy generation like solar panels, and digitalisation for increased efficiency and waste reduction are highlighted.
- Valorising Food Side Streams: Encouraging the repurposing of food manufacturing by-products into higher value-added products, such as plant-based cheese and probiotic beverages. The playbook identifies key side streams in Singapore, including okara, brewers’ spent grain, surplus bread, and fruits, offering innovative solutions to meet consumer demands for healthy and sustainable products.
- Adopting Sustainable Packaging: Recognising the importance of sustainable packaging for global market access, the playbook encourages the reduction of packaging and the use of recyclable or sustainable materials with enhanced shelf-life stability.
To complement the Sustainability Playbook, EnterpriseSG, in collaboration with the Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association (SFMA), announced the “Embracing Sustainability for Enterprise Growth in Food Manufacturing” course. This provides an introduction to sustainability concepts and equips food manufacturing companies with the necessary tools and support to take tangible steps towards sustainability.
The course, scheduled for Q1 2024, offers participants access to a sustainability assessment toolkit and personalised advisory sessions to kickstart their sustainability journey. EnterpriseSG will defray 70% of course fees for eligible businesses, making it an accessible and valuable resource for companies looking to enhance their sustainability capabilities.
According to Enterprise Singapore, their initiatives are poised to guide food manufacturers towards a future where environmental consciousness aligns seamlessly with business success. The playbook and course serve as inspirations, illuminating the path for companies to thrive in an era where sustainability is both a responsibility and a competitive advantage.
Digital tools are pivotal in advancing sustainable food manufacturing, revolutionising processes and fostering environmental stewardship. These tools optimise resource utilisation, emphasising energy-efficient equipment and digitalisation to enhance operational efficiency.
By identifying areas for improvement and implementing smart technologies, companies can minimise waste, reduce carbon footprints, and embrace eco-friendly practices. The integration of digital solutions allows for real-time monitoring, predictive analytics, and precision control, enabling precise resource management and minimising environmental impact.
Sustainable packaging initiatives, facilitated by these tools, further contribute to eco-conscious practices, aligning with global sustainability goals. The adoption of digital tools in food manufacturing not only improves operational effectiveness but also positions the industry as a leader in environmentally responsible practices, ensuring a more sustainable and resilient future.
Each year, approximately 240,000 instances of breast cancer are identified among women and 2,100 among men in the United States. The toll of this disease is reflected in the fact that each year, around 42,000 women and 500 men succumb to breast cancer in the U.S.
Cancer is characterised by uncontrolled cell growth within the body. Among women in the United States, breast cancer ranks as the most prevalent form of cancer, excluding skin cancer. While there has been a decrease in mortality rates associated with breast cancer over the years, it still maintains its position as the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women at large.
It is disconcerting to note that black women experience a higher mortality rate from breast cancer. The gravity of these statistics underscores the pressing need for continued research, awareness, and advancements in healthcare to address the impact of breast cancer across diverse populations.
In light of this, researchers from Penn State have unravelled the mechanics behind the invasion of healthy tissues by breast cancer cells, shedding light on a crucial aspect of cancer metastasis. The U.S. National Science Foundation supports this discovery, unveiling the pivotal role of a motor protein called dynein in propelling the movement of cancer cells within soft tissue models. The findings present potential clinical targets against metastasis and can revolutionise the approach to cancer treatment.
The study signifies a paradigm shift in understanding the mechanics of cancer cell motility. Erdem Tabdanov, a pharmacologist at Penn State and a lead co-corresponding author on the study, emphasised the discovery significance of this innovation, “Until now, dynein has never been caught in the business of providing the mechanical force for cancer cell motility, which is their ability to move. Now we can see that if you target dynein, you could effectively stop motility of those cells and, therefore, stop metastatic dissemination,” he expressed.
During this work, the researchers utilised live microscopy to observe the migration of breast cancer cells in two distinct systems designed to replicate human body conditions. The first system, a 2D network of collagen fibres, revealed the intricate movement of cancer cells through an extracellular matrix surrounding tumours, highlighting the critical role of dynein.
The second system, a 3D model developed by a team led by Amir Sheikhi, a chemical and biomedical engineer at Penn State, aimed to mimic soft tissue using microscopic hydrogel particles or microgels linked together in tumour-like shapes. In both models, the researchers found that dynein was “indispensable” in the spread or metastasis of cancer cells.
Sheikhi emphasised the impact of this discovery on cancer management, stating, “Using these three-dimensional models that partially mimic a tumour, we discovered that if we block dynein, the cancer cells cannot effectively move and infiltrate solid tissues. Instead of killing the cancer cells with radiation or chemotherapy, we are showing how to paralyse them.”
This breakthrough is particularly noteworthy as it introduces a less aggressive approach to cancer treatment, aiming to halt the movement of cancer cells rather than indiscriminately targeting both cancerous and healthy cells. By leveraging digital microscopy and innovative 3D models, the research offers a transformative perspective on cancer management.
The potential clinical implications of this discovery are vast, providing a new avenue for developing targeted therapies against metastasis. In the era of precision medicine, where tailored treatments are gaining prominence, understanding the mechanics of cancer cell motility at a molecular level opens doors to more nuanced and effective interventions.
As the research community embraces digital technologies and advanced modelling techniques, this study stands as a testament to the power of innovation in unravelling the complexities of cancer biology. Integrating digital microscopy into the study of cancer dynamics showcases how technology can drive the future of medical research and treatment.
Further, the implications of this research extend beyond breast cancer, offering a blueprint for exploring similar mechanisms in other types of cancer and paving the way for a more targeted and less invasive approach to cancer therapeutics.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is spearheading an initiative to propel the nation’s capabilities in healthcare, Industry 4.0-driven manufacturing, and supply chain and logistics through the transformative power of 5G. This groundbreaking endeavour, known as the S$30 million 5G Innovation Programme, is not just a step forward but a giant leap into a future where innovation reshapes industries.
Launched in 2021, the 5G Innovation Programme is a testament to Singapore’s commitment to embracing emerging technologies. IMDA has forged strategic partnerships with key enterprises, including the National University Health System (NUHS).
In the healthcare industry, Singapore’s forward-thinking tech innovators, in collaboration with NUHS, have harnessed 5G to revolutionise patient care. The introduction of Mixed Reality-based Holomedicine in operating theatres stands out as a groundbreaking achievement.
This innovative approach not only enhances patient care but also redefines the entire healthcare experience. Announced in 2022, the initiative marks the Asia Pacific’s inaugural deployment of indoor private Enterprise 5G mobile edge computing (MEC) for Mixed Reality and Holomedicine capabilities in health tech.
A significant stride in healthcare also involves a collaboration with Republic Power to deploy 5G-enabled unmanned medical booths. These “Medbots” represent Asia’s first 5G-enabled unmanned pre-screening and teleconsultation medical booths. Equipped with state-of-the-art hygiene and safety systems, these booths support remote health screening and video consultations, offering an enhanced user experience that aligns with the demands of a digital era.
The impact of 5G extends beyond healthcare, permeating the realms of Industry 4.0-driven manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics. Collaborations with ST Engineering and DB Schenker have given rise to groundbreaking applications.
For instance, Singapore’s first 5G-enabled Digital Twin has been implemented for a logistics and supply chain company transforming warehouse and manufacturing operations, quality control, and customer experience. Simultaneously, ST Engineering’s 5G-Enabled Industry 4.0 Smart Factory boasts one of Singapore’s first 5G-enabled collaborative robots, revolutionising manufacturing processes.
Dr Ong Chen Hui, Assistant Chief Executive of the Biztech Group at IMDA, emphasised the agency’s commitment to architecting Singapore’s digital future. The goal is to build capabilities in various sectors powered by emerging technologies like 5G. IMDA’s collaboration with forward-looking companies signifies a concerted effort to unlock the full spectrum of benefits that 5G offers across a wide range of sectors.
As Singapore propels itself into the future, the 5G Innovation Programme stands as a testament to the nation’s dedication to progress. The partnerships with key enterprises underscore a collective effort to reshape, redefine, and transform industries across the country.
Singapore is not merely embracing change; it is pioneering a future where technology catalyses innovation and progress. The journey has just begun, and Singapore is at the forefront, shaping the narrative of a technologically advanced and future-ready nation.
The comprehensive initiative serves as a catalyst, propelling Singapore into a new era of digital prowess. It is not merely an adoption of advanced technologies; rather, it is a strategic alignment with the needs of the future, recognising the pivotal role technology plays in shaping economic landscapes on a global scale.
The 5G Innovation Programme signifies Singapore’s commitment to sustainable economic growth. By embracing technology as a driver of progress, Singapore is not just securing its current standing; it is laying the foundation for a resilient and forward-thinking economy. The emphasis on sustainability in this digital transformation ensures that growth is not just rapid but also enduring, with an eye towards environmental and social responsibility.
Based on a study conducted in 2018, the Head of the Satellite Division of the Accessibility to Communication and Information Agency (BAKTI) of the Ministry of Communication and Information, Sri Sanggrama Aradea, stated that based, there is a need for internet access to 1Mbps for 150,000 public service points in the fields of education, healthcare, and government in remote, frontier, and outermost (3T) areas.
The Ministry of Communication and Information continues to uphold its commitment to implementing the agenda of equalising the progress of digital transformation across the entire archipelago of Indonesia. This commitment is realised by continuing the contract for Base Transceiver Station (BTS) 4G services, especially for Remote, Frontier, and Outermost (3T) regions.
This action signifies the seriousness of the Ministry in ensuring that the benefits of digital transformation progress are not only felt in major cities but also extend to remote and outermost areas of Indonesia. Continuing the BTS 4G contract for 3T focuses on equalising access and strengthening communication networks, ensuring that communities in previously connectivity-limited areas can enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution.
Minister of Communication and Information Budi Arie Setiadi emphasised, “Strengthening communication networks is the main focus, ensuring that communities in areas that may have been previously limited in connectivity can benefit from the digital revolution.”
Minister Budi Arie Setiadi stated that this aligns with President Joko Widodo’s directive during the handover of the Ministry’s Budget Execution Plan for the Fiscal Year 2024, emphasising that the utilisation of government budget allocations must be focused on results. Minister Budi Arie explained that the signed Operation & Maintenance Contract is intended to continue the operation of the already-built BTS 4G, which has become an asset of the Telecommunication and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI).
Arwoto Atmosutarno, Chairman of the Task Force of the BAKTI at the Ministry of Communication and Information, admits that completing the BTS 4G Project is challenging. The diverse topography of Indonesia and its often remote geographical locations create complexities that increase the difficulty in executing this project.
In overcoming these challenges, Atmosutarno highlighted the importance of collaborative and synergistic coordination among Task Force members, involving entities such as the Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Finance, Supreme Audit Agency (BPKP), Procurement Policy Agency (LKPP), Ministry of Communication and Information, and various related industry stakeholders. This joint effort aims to overcome various obstacles and challenges from complicated geographical conditions.
This indicates that project completion requires technical expertise and active involvement from various sectors contributing to addressing Indonesia’s unique and complex landscapes. Although the task is not easy, the determination and good cooperation among Task Force members ensure the efficiency of the project, even in challenging geographical conditions.
Indonesia is indeed known as an archipelagic country with quite extreme topography. This poses significant challenges for communication networks, especially telecommunication infrastructure projects such as BTS 4G. With widely scattered islands, high mountains, and remote areas that are difficult to access, establishing a network that can cover the entire Indonesian territory requires meticulous planning and execution.
Based on data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the number of internet users in Indonesia reached 292.3 million in 2022, equivalent to 77.02% of the total population. This figure increased by 2.6% from the previous year.
The increase in Internet access is driven by various factors, including economic growth, increased smartphone penetration, and government programmes to equalise Internet access.
Regarding telecommunication infrastructure development, the government aims to achieve 100% 4G network coverage by 2024. This target seems achievable, as in 2023, 4G network coverage in Indonesia has reached 98%.
The progress of telecommunication network development in Indonesia has brought various benefits to the community, including: Improving accessibility to information and communication, Facilitating economic transactions, Enhancing the quality of education and healthcare and Increasing the nation’s competitiveness.
Computer scientists from Iraq and Australia have harnessed the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and digital imaging to create an innovative diagnostic tool, achieving a remarkable 98% accuracy in detecting facial palsy, while also determining the patient’s gender and age.
The researchers, affiliated with the Middle Technical University (MTU) in Baghdad and the University of South Australia (UniSA), believe that the tool has the potential to significantly reduce diagnostic errors associated with this prevalent and treatable neurological disorder.
Facial palsy, characterised by temporary muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of the face due to impairment of the facial nerve, affects approximately 1 in 60 individuals worldwide during their lifetime. While facial palsy is commonly caused by nerve impairment, less frequent causes include tumors, infections, or strokes. The challenge in diagnosing facial palsy lies in its ability to mimic other conditions, often leading to misdiagnosis. A 2020 paper estimates that misdiagnosis occurs in up to 20% of cases, underscoring the critical need for accurate diagnostic tools.
Published in BioMedInformatics, the researchers detailed their real-time detection system for facial palsy, leveraging a microcomputer, digital camera, and a deep learning algorithm. The team utilised a robust dataset comprising 26,000 images, with 19,000 representing normal facial conditions and 1,600 showcasing facial palsy. Employing advanced AI techniques, the researchers trained computer vision systems to recognise facial palsy, distinguishing it from healthy conditions.
To put their system to the test, the researchers captured images of 20 patients with varying degrees of facial palsy. The algorithm not only detected the condition in real time but also accurately identified the approximate age and gender of the patients. According to Professor Javaan Chahl, a remote sensing engineer at the University of South Australia, the system achieved an impressive 98% accuracy rate.
The significance of this AI-driven diagnostic tool extends beyond its accuracy. By using computer vision systems for facial palsy detection, the researchers believe that the tool has the potential to prevent misdiagnoses, ultimately saving time, effort, and costs for both patients and medical specialists.
Traditional methods of detection through visual examination are prone to inaccuracies due to the subtle presentation of facial palsy, which can be easily mistaken for other conditions. Early and accurate detection is crucial, as facial palsy may be indicative of underlying issues such as stroke, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, or Lyme disease.
The researchers highlight that individuals most at risk of developing facial palsy are typically aged between 30 and 45, pregnant women, diabetics, and those with a family history of the condition. Moreover, facial palsy tends to affect the left side of the face more frequently, although the condition often resolves spontaneously within six months.
The paper titled “Automatic Facial Palsy, Age and Gender Detection Using a Raspberry Pi” is authored by Ali Al-Naji from MTU and UniSA, Javaan Chahl from UniSA, Ali Saber Amsalan from MTU, and Ammar Yahya Daeef from MTU. This collaborative effort between Iraqi and Australian researchers underscores the global nature of scientific advancements and their potential to transform healthcare practices. As the field of AI continues to evolve, such interdisciplinary collaborations pave the way for innovative solutions that have a tangible impact on patient care and medical diagnostics.
In an era where technology increasingly shapes the way we manage daily life, its impact on crucial legal matters is often neglected. A commonly overlooked concern revolves around decision-making in unique situations.
If an individual becomes incapable of making decisions, it’s important to note that their next of kin doesn’t automatically assume legal authority to oversee their affairs. Instead, they’re required to undergo a lengthy and cumbersome court process to gain access to bank accounts or manage insurance payouts.
With this in mind, Singapore offers an option to deal with such circumstances. The Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a crucial legal document allowing individuals to designate someone to act on their behalf if they become incapacitated. Recognising its pivotal role, the partnership between GovTech’s Services team and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in Singapore has led to a remarkable digital transformation in the LPA application process.
The collaborative solution from the Office of the Public Guardian Online (OPGO) is a pioneering platform aimed at simplifying and automating the LPA application process. This digital overhaul not only slashes the processing time from three weeks to a mere 15 minutes but also revolutionises the user experience.
The development of OPGO was not a mere technological leap; it was a carefully curated process. The team embraced design thinking methodologies, engaging stakeholders, conducting usability workshops, and even pilot-testing with various demographics, including medical professionals and legal experts.
The integration of the National Digital Identity platform brought forth Secure Electronic Signatures, eliminating the need for physical signatures and ensuring a secure environment for document verification. Data security measures were rigorously implemented to safeguard sensitive information, offering citizens peace of mind when engaging with the platform.
The OPGO team is eager to explore more avenues to ease citizen’s lives. They’re on a mission to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning into document processing, anticipating even faster processing times and improved user experiences. By employing predictive analysis, they aim to broaden coverage with reduced manpower.
The agile methodology adopted, coupled with technology like low-code platforms, continuous integration and delivery practices, automated testing, and cloud technology, ensured adaptability and quality assurance throughout the project lifecycle. These measures were instrumental in refining OPGO’s usability before its launch and continue to facilitate its evolution.
The journey from manual processing to digitalisation has not only simplified bureaucratic procedures but also empowered individuals to take charge of their future in a technologically advanced, efficient, and secure manner.
In essence, the evolution of LPAs through technology is not just about paperwork; it’s a testament to how innovation can transform legal processes, making them accessible, efficient, and reliable for the benefit of society.
Since its launch in November 2022, over 57,000 individuals have used the OPGO portal to submit their LPA applications. The platform’s success surpassed key benchmarks for customer satisfaction, e-payment integration, digital signatures, and data pre-fill, proving its intuitive interface and functionality were well-received by citizens.
Until March 2026, citizens have the opportunity to benefit from a waived $75 application fee for LPAs, enabling them to use the efficient and user-friendly OPGO platform to secure their future.
Singapore recognises that technology has the potential to better people’s lives. They also understand that all segments of society should be able to understand, access and participate in an increasingly digital world.
OpenGov reported on the government’s commitment to supporting Singaporeans in this quest for perpetual learning. Senior Minister of State Tan Kiat How underscored the pivotal role of continuous learning and skills acquisition in navigating the dynamic landscape of the modern world. He shared the Forward Singapore report, a comprehensive guide to the nation’s major developmental shifts, urging those unfamiliar with it to explore its insights.