China currently ranks 11th out of the world’s 132 economies and is the only middle-income country to make the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) top 20 Global Innovation Ranking for 2022.
The country was first in nine of the 80 criteria used by the list to assess innovation capacity, including domestic market size, the number of companies offering formal training, patients by origin, labour productivity growth, trademarks and industrial designs by source, and creative goods exports.
According to WIPO, China had the top 100 science and technology clusters for the first time. Meanwhile, Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou was the world’s second-most innovative sci-tech cluster, followed by Beijing in third place.
Many of China’s most significant achievements have been based on science and technology, including hosting the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, discovering new engines for socioeconomic growth, and completing the Tiangong Space Station.
“China’s science and technology sector has undergone historic and profound changes in the last decade. China has played an important role in global frontier science, technology, and innovation, as well as in jointly addressing global challenges,” noted Minister Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology, in a video address to the Global Innovation Ranking 2022 launch ceremony. “China will facilitate opening and international cooperation, actively participate in the global innovation network, and foster larger and deeper collaboration in science and technology.”
Meanwhile, Hou Jianguo, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, stated that a country’s essential science research capability is the foundation for supporting innovation and the foundation of China’s pursuit of self-sufficiency and self-strengthening in science and technology.
The academy would assist in optimising policies to support scientific research and regulations on cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology, Create a more effective innovation mechanism, cultivate world-class scientists, and promote open science and international cooperation.
According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, the rapid growth of national high-tech development zones, which are the trailblazers of China’s innovation-driven development strategy, hosts 84% of the nation’s State Key Laboratories and 78% of its national technological innovation centres.
China had 173 national high-tech development zones last year, 84 more than in 2012. Meanwhile, high-tech development zones’ GDP increased from 5.4 trillion yuan (US$790 billion) in 2012 to 15.3 trillion yuan (US$2 trillion) last year. According to the ministry, these zones contributed 13.4% of China’s GDP last year while occupying only 2.5% of the country’s construction land.
According to Wu Jiaxi, deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Research Commercialisation and Regional Innovation, high-tech zones have proven to be resilient to risks. As a result, they have achieved growth despite global uncertainties in recent years.
According to Li Youping, deputy director of the Torch High Technology Industry Development Centre of the Ministry of Science and Technology, scientists and companies from high-tech zones have made numerous breakthroughs in strategic fields in recent years.
Among those achievements were China’s first artificial intelligence chip, the first quantum communications satellite, the first COVID-19 vaccines, high-speed rails, the C919 passenger jet, and the Beidou satellite navigation system.
Zhang Yuzhuo, then vice-president of the China Association for Science and Technology, said at a forum in November that the scientific community has made significant contributions to the healthy and inclusive development of the nation’s digital economy, which refers to the use of information and communication technologies to support business models and economic activities.
Tianhe-1, launched in October 2010, has become a valuable tool capable of handling more than 1,400 computing tasks concurrently, and approximately 1,000 research groups use the supercomputer daily.
Meng and his colleagues are working on the prototype of Tianhe-3, the nation’s supercomputer, which will handle more than one quintillion operations per second, making it many orders of magnitude more potent than Tianhe-1.
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.
In a session at the Dewan Negara, Senator Datuk Sivarraajh Chandran proposed a significant expansion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) courses across public universities, aligning with the anticipated transformative impact of AI technology on the future job landscape.
Senator Chandran emphasised that greater participation of higher education institutions in offering AI courses would create a more extensive platform for cultivating experts capable of addressing the challenges arising from the evolution and development of AI technology.
Citing a study conducted by the Ministry of Human Resources, which projected that approximately 4.5 million workers in the country could face job displacement by 2030 due to advancements in AI and Machine Learning (ML), Senator Chandran underscored the importance of mitigating this risk through the provision of additional AI-related educational opportunities. While acknowledging that the majority of jobs at risk are categorised as semi-skilled and unskilled, he stressed the profound impact such a shift could have on people’s livelihoods, warranting proactive measures.
These proposals were articulated during the deliberation of the Supply Bill 2024 in the Dewan Negara. Senator Chandran expressed support for the government’s initiative to establish the nation’s first Artificial Intelligence Studies Centre, housed at the Faculty of Artificial Intelligence in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). This centre, announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as part of the Budget 2024, received an initial allocation of RM20 million.
While commending the establishment of the AI Studies Centre at UTM, Senator Chandran argued for a more intensified effort, calling for the active involvement of additional public higher education institutions in providing AI courses. He believed that expanding educational offerings in the AI field could play a crucial role in reducing the projected job displacement and equipping the workforce with the necessary skills for the evolving job market.
In the context of potential job losses outlined in the Ministry of Human Resources study, Senator Chandran stressed the significance of not underestimating the impact of AI and ML advancements. He emphasised that the livelihoods of individuals were at stake, necessitating a proactive approach to skill development and education in emerging technologies.
Furthermore, Senator Chandran argued that the participation of more educational institutions in offering AI studies could have broader economic implications. He suggested that a robust educational ecosystem in AI would be an attractive factor for investors in the industry, as it would demonstrate the country’s commitment to fostering a skilled and credible talent pool capable of meeting the demands of the evolving job market.
In mid-October, Malaysia presented its 2024 budget, said to be the largest in the nation’s history, with an allocation of RM303 billion (US$64.7 billion). To fulfil fiscal obligations and decrease the deficit to 4.3%, the budget introduces significant structural changes to Malaysia’s tax system, affecting both businesses and individuals.
Notably, a capital gains tax is introduced, and there is an upswing in service tax rates. Furthermore, the government has confirmed the implementation of e-invoicing starting from 1 August 2024 and the adoption of the global minimum tax in 2025. These measures signify a comprehensive approach to fiscal management, aiming to enhance revenue streams, streamline tax processes, and align with global taxation standards.
Senator Datuk Sivarraajh Chandran’s proposals centre around the crucial role of education in mitigating the potential negative impacts of AI and ML advancements on the job market. By advocating for an expanded offering of AI courses in public universities, he aims to not only address the challenges posed by technological developments but also position the country as an attractive destination for investments in the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence.
The Minister of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Ashwini Vaishnaw, has discussed creating a robust response to the challenges posed by deepfake technology with representatives from academia, industry bodies, and social media companies. The consensus reached in the discussion entails collaborative efforts among the government, academia, social media companies, and the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) to collectively address the harmful uses of deepfake.
Deepfakes are artificial intelligence-manipulated video, audio, and images. Their hyper-realistic nature makes them challenging to identify as fake, especially for individuals unfamiliar with the technology. Therefore, these manipulations can and have harmed reputations and serve as tools to falsify evidence. Deepfakes are also a threat to democracy and social institutions globally and the increasing presence of deepfakes in political messaging could be particularly damaging, especially in the lead-up to the upcoming general elections, posing risks to the integrity of information and public discourse.
The meeting, held at the end of November, concluded with an agreement to identify actionable items within the next 10 days, focusing on four key pillars:
- Detection: Develop methods to identify deepfake content both before and after its posting.
- Prevention: Establish an effective mechanism to prevent the spread of deepfake content.
- Reporting: Implement an efficient and prompt reporting system along with a grievance redressal mechanism.
- Awareness: Launch a widespread awareness campaign to educate the public on the issues related to deepfake technology.Top of Form
Furthermore, effective immediately, MeitY will initiate an exercise to assess and formulate necessary regulations to combat the threat of deepfake. To facilitate this process, MeitY will invite public comments through the MyGov portal.
A follow-up meeting with relevant stakeholders will be held again this week to finalise the four-pillared structure. According to the government’s AI news portal, it remains committed to combating the growing threat of deepfake through technology and by fostering public awareness. It said that MeitY has frequently guided social media intermediaries, urging them to exercise due diligence and promptly take necessary actions against instances of deepfake.
Recently, the Delhi High Court expressed reservations about the prospect of judicial intervention to regulate the use of deepfake content created through AI. It said that addressing the issue and finding a balanced solution would be more appropriately handled by the government, given its extensive data resources and wide-ranging machinery. The court scheduled the matter for an additional hearing in January.
Governments globally are addressing the threats of damaging deepfake technologies by implementing enhanced rules and regulations. In September, the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and federal agency partners issued new guidance on cybersecurity risks associated with deepfakes.
As OpenGov Asia reported, they published a Cybersecurity Information Sheet (CSI) titled “Contextualising Deepfake Threats to Organisations” to help organisations recognise, safeguard against, and respond to deepfake threats.
It suggests that organisations should incorporate real-time verification capabilities. It underscores the use of passive detection techniques for continuous monitoring and early identification and emphasises the significance of safeguarding high-profile officers and their communications, as they are frequent targets of deepfake attempts.
Apart from detection, the guidance offered ways to mitigate the impact of deepfake attacks. Organisations must foster information sharing within and across organisations. The guidance advocates for thorough planning and rehearsal of responses to potential exploitation attempts, ensuring organisations are well-prepared for any incidents. Personnel training is another crucial aspect, providing individuals with the skills and knowledge to effectively recognise and respond to synthetic media threats.
One of the main challenges in addressing digital copyright infringements is the ability to detect and effectively combat such violations. Advanced technologies enable digital piracy and unauthorised content distribution through increasingly complex and difficult-to-monitor methods. Therefore, collaboration between the government, private sector, and relevant institutions is essential to develop efficient solutions and enforcement strategies to tackle these challenges.
Josefhin Mareta, a researcher at the Centre for Legal Research of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), revealed that there are still many digital copyright infringements in Indonesia. Examples of such cases include copyright violations of books in digital formats, such as scanning for e-books, file sharing, and unauthorised sales in online marketplaces. Additionally, there are copyright violations in digital music or songs, such as uploading cover songs to social media platforms without the copyright holder’s permission and bootlegging, such as recording concerts or performances on TV/film for personal or commercial purposes.
Copyright infringement refers to the unauthorised utilisation of copyrighted materials without the consent of the creators, holders, or authors. It constitutes an act of dishonesty and a breach of the economic and exclusive rights of the creators.
According to Josephine, the Indonesian government has taken several measures to address these issues, including actions by the Directorate General of Intellectual Property (DJKI) and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kemenkominfo). These agencies have attempted to create joint regulations requiring monitoring or blocking content or access rights for individuals who violate copyright.
However, in investigating such violations, the bureaucracy is still intricate. The complainant must submit several requirements, such as documentary shreds of evidence, to prove that the item in question is being sold illegally, for example, on an e-commerce platform. Despite these efforts, various issues persist, such as the presence of digital literary works related to copyright.
Josefhin expressed that the relevant laws still need a clear definition of literary and digital works. This ambiguity extends to books, music, performances, and other forms, raising questions about how the public can distribute the creator’s royalties using digital works.
Further, Josefhin added that literary works have evolved from physical to digital forms over time. She explained that this evolution reflects significant changes in how humans convey, consume, and interact with information.
In light of this, Josephine explained that there are two approaches regarding copyright violations. First, substantial duplication refers to replicating the core elements of a copyrighted work. It should be noted that there are legal limitations, indicating that this prohibition does not encompass the entire work or a substantial part of it. Moreover, duplication is acceptable if accompanied by actions that do not harm the reasonable interests of the creator or if there is an agreement among all parties involved.
The second approach involves a “causal connection,” where events or previous works inspire a newly created copyrighted work. In other words, there is a traceable connection between the work being made and a work produced at some point in the past.
To elaborate further, Josefhin mentioned three restriction methods to prevent misuse when someone uses another person’s work without permission:
- Based on specific conditions or cases, an individual can sometimes use someone else’s copyrighted work without permission.
- Duplication should not conflict with the normal exploitation of the owner or copyright holder. It relates to the substance of the work.
- It should not diminish the legitimate interests of the creator.
Josefhin reiterated these points, emphasising that copyright violations are not a new phenomenon in Indonesia. With the rapid and massive digital developments, the government has to conduct regulations to prevent and oversee copyright infringement and avoid harm to any party.
“Creating works is a challenging process, but for many individuals, it serves as a means to earn a living. We must recognise and value this effort,” she concluded.
China has achieved a significant milestone in the advancement of its computing infrastructure with the official release of the national standard GB/T 43331-2023, titled “Internet Data Centre (IDC) Technology and Classification Requirements.” This strategic move underscores a steadfast commitment to propelling the robust development of the computing industry within the country.
Spearheaded by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), in collaboration with various enterprises and institutions, this achievement signifies a dedication to aligning with the evolving needs of the national computing infrastructure and ensuring the high-quality evolution of the computing industry.
The comprehensive scope of GB/T 43331-2023 spans six dynamic aspects, mirroring the complexity of the digital landscape it seeks to regulate. These aspects include greenness, availability, security, service capabilities, computing power, and computing efficiency, with an added emphasis on low-carbon practices.
At its core, this national standard is designed to serve as a guiding framework for the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of Internet Data Centres (IDCs). The creators envision a future where GB/T 43331-2023 acts as a catalyst, propelling diverse industries forward by facilitating a more profound integration of computing infrastructure.
The roots of this groundbreaking standard extend back to 2013 when the data centre team of the Institute of Cloud Computing and Big Data at the CAICT embarked on a mission to standardise the communication industry.
Over the years, several data centre rating standards have emerged, each contributing as a stepping stone towards the ultimate realisation of GB/T 43331-2023. This national standard has now come to fruition after years of collaboration with users, designers, and industry suppliers.
According to CAICT, the standard places a strong emphasis on energy efficiency, a longstanding concern in the development of data centres. No longer a vague aspiration, GB/T 43331-2023 outlines specific requirements aimed at elevating the energy efficiency levels of data centres through the application of green technology and adept operation and maintenance system management.
Beyond technology, the standard underscores a commitment to responsible and sustainable practices. It addresses service capabilities through a comprehensive evaluation of external services in data centres. This assessment isn’t a mere formality; it objectively gauges capabilities, fostering self-improvement within data centres and aiding customers in selecting facilities suitable for their business needs.
The newly released standard also focuses on availability, enhancing data centre resilience through improved equipment redundancy. This ensures data protection during emergencies, fortifying the foundational architecture of the digital world. Security, a paramount concern in the data-centric era, receives meticulous attention. Beyond conventional measures like firewalls and passwords, the standard aims to ensure the safety of both data centre equipment and personnel, adopting a holistic approach to fortify the guardians of the digital realms.
The CAICT added that the GB/T 43331-2023 is not merely a set of regulations; it is a guidebook signalling a future where computing infrastructure seamlessly integrates into daily life. It represents a collaborative effort among academia, industry, and innovation, shaping a digital landscape that is not only efficient but also sustainable, secure, and prepared for future challenges.
By establishing common guidelines, protocols, and specifications, these standards ensure that hardware and software components from different vendors can seamlessly communicate and function as part of an integrated system. This not only simplifies integration processes but also fosters a more open and competitive market.
Professor Sun Dong, the Secretary for Innovation, Technology, and Industry, conducted a thorough inspection of a promising new site earmarked for innovation and technology (I&T) endeavours in Sandy Ridge, North District.
Based on the initial assessment, the government perceives the site as viable for data centre development. This visit unveiled the immense potential this site holds for furthering Hong Kong’s strides in the realm of I&T.
During the Policy Address 2023, Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive, John Lee, confirmed the integration of the Northern Metropolis with the strategic planning of Shenzhen and other cities within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (“GBA”). He announced the government’s intention to repurpose a two-hectare site in Sandy Ridge, North District.
Hong Kong stands at the frontier of digital transformation, actively exploring new sites and avenues to catalyse tech innovation. With a keen focus on harnessing technological prowess, the city is zealously identifying and repurposing spaces, like the recent scrutiny of sites such as Sandy Ridge, to nurture the growth of innovation and technology.
This vigorous pursuit underscores Hong Kong’s unwavering commitment to fostering an ecosystem conducive to ground-breaking advancements, propelling the city into a dynamic era of digital evolution and technological innovation.
The government’s concerted efforts to foster the growth of I&T industries involve augmenting land supply specifically dedicated to I&T and enhancing the accompanying infrastructure. The latest Policy Address introduced a proposal to repurpose a substantial two-hectare site in Sandy Ridge, North District, underscoring its pivotal role in bolstering Hong Kong’s I&T landscape.
Professor Sun, accompanied by key figures such as Mr Vic Yau, Director of the Northern Metropolis Co-ordination Office, and Mr Gavin Tse, Acting Project Manager (North Development Office) of the Civil Engineering and Development Department, meticulously examined the Sandy Ridge site.
Professor Sun inspected Sandy Ridge and received a comprehensive briefing from relevant officers regarding the site’s status, encompassing the formed land and completed infrastructure facilities.
They considered crucial factors such as site location, infrastructure plans, development timelines, and nearby commercial and community amenities, alongside the industry’s pressing need for such facilities. Importantly, this prospective development is anticipated not to significantly impact local foot traffic.
“The Government aims to expedite technical evaluations and necessary rezoning procedures within the coming year, rendering the site ripe for I&T and associated developments. This provides a swift solution for I&T expansion, complementing the existing Loop, aligning seamlessly with the ‘South-North dual-engine (finance-I&T)’ strategy,” Professor Sun emphasised.
The visit also saw the presence and active involvement of esteemed personalities like Mr Eddie Mak, Permanent Secretary for Innovation, Technology, and Industry; Ms Lillian Cheong, Under Secretary for Innovation, Technology, and Industry; and Mr Tony Wong, Government Chief Information Officer, further underscoring the significance of this prospective I&T hub in Sandy Ridge.
This proactive pursuit of fostering a dedicated space for I&T endeavours reflects Hong Kong’s commitment to fortifying its position as a regional tech leader. As the Government advances with its strategic plans, Sandy Ridge emerges as a promising cornerstone in the burgeoning landscape of innovation and technology in the region.
OpenGov Asia has reported that Hong Kong is keen to cement its reputation as a regional and global digital hub. It already is a dynamic global financial centre and a historical node for the Chinese diaspora and stands as a vibrant hub for tech and trade.
Indeed, the nation is looking to emerge as a dynamic tech hub and global business intersection, fostering innovation, propelling digital economy growth, and connecting a thriving start-up ecosystem within a vast global network.
Hong Kong’s innovation and technology sector together with that of Shenzhen and Guangzhou – the Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou science and technology cluster – ranks as the world’s second performing according to the Global Innovation Index 2023.