SINGAPORE: Seven industry-led groups will develop and execute ideas in key areas of economic growth within three months, in the latest push to ensure Singapore’s economy emerges stronger from the COVID-19 crisis.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in a televised speech on Saturday (Jun 20) that the Singapore Together Alliances for Action will focus on areas like e-commerce and environmental sustainability and implement ideas “with speed and agility”.
According to a factsheet by the Singapore Together movement released on Saturday, these alliances, convened by the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST), “will quickly explore, prototype and execute ideas in a three-month sprint”.
“They will share their preliminary results and next steps later this year,” the movement said. “Thereafter, the EST will determine which ideas and focus areas can be scaled.”
The seven alliances will look at sustainability, enabling safe and innovative visitor experiences, facilitating smart commerce, digitalising the built environment, digitalising supply chains, robotics and EduTech.
SUSTAINABILITY, TOURISM AND E-COMMERCE
The movement highlighted that the focus on sustainability as well as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards is likely to increase post-COVID-19.
This comes after the co-founder of an environmental group wrote an open letter to the EST on Monday, saying it should have greater representation from women, minorities, vulnerable communities and those committed to green causes.
“This (increased focus on sustainability) provides the opportunity to become a centre for ESG-related solutions and services, serving our own commitments as well as global demand,” it said.
“The services will need to leverage on policy frameworks, technology, financial and legal ecosystems – all Singapore’s strengths.”
The COVID-19 outbreak has also fundamentally changed travel and tourism, it said, meaning Singapore must pioneer new ways to enable safe transit, business as well as leisure travel and tourism.
“This is to ensure that Singapore remains a global Asia node, and a leading hub for business and enterprise in Asia-Pacific, despite a potentially long COVID-19 shadow,” it added.
The movement said Singapore can create a “smart commerce” ecosystem that blends digital and physical retail, pointing out that the latter will likely persist in Singapore due to the convenience of neighbourhood stores and retail hubs located next to transport nodes.
This is despite consumers and retailers, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), adopting e-commerce quicker in light of COVID-19, it said.
“We therefore have the conditions to create a ‘smart commerce’ ecosystem that blends digital and physical retail, and allows local stores to tap into a global consumer market,” it added. “Such a system would require the complete reimagination of the online and offline shopping experience.”
DIGITALISATION AND TECHNOLOGY
Digitalisation and technology also feature heavily as areas of focus for the alliances.
The movement said there is an opportunity to speed up the digitalisation of the built environment, especially as the COVID-19 crisis increased collaboration across all parts of the built environment value chain.
“This is thus a window of opportunity to accelerate the digitalisation push to raise productivity across the built environment value chain – from concept and design, to construction and site management, and facilities management,” it said.
There is also a “huge opportunity” to advance digitalisation technology and usage for those in the supply chain ecosystem, given stronger concerns about its resilience and a likely move towards regionalised supply chains post-COVID-19.
“Digitalisation of global supply chains has been uneven and hampered by low adoption, lack of data sharing, and a preponderance of different platforms,” the movement said, adding that cargo owners as well as the logistics, regulatory and financial sectors can benefit.
When it comes to improving productivity and overcoming manpower challenges, the movement highlighted that technology and robotics solutions can transform existing jobs and create new ones, as well as generate spin-offs for SMEs and drive economic growth.
“At the same time, Singapore has had to adopt novel and innovative solutions to minimise social contact and maintain high health standards during COVID-19 – from cleaning and construction robots to autonomous healthcare and public land transport,” it added.
COVID-19 has also accelerated the global adoption of EduTech, the movement noted, from home-based learning to online professional education and training.
Online training and home-based learning came to the fore as many workplaces and schools in Singapore shut during the “circuit breaker”.
“This is an opportunity for Singapore to take our education and human capital brand global,” the movement said.