How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

SGInnovate was founded on the belief that deep tech, or ‘technology-intensive’ products borne out of scientific research, can help tackle some of the greatest global challenges. Our mission is to help ambitious and talented individuals launch, prove and scale deep tech products from Singapore for the world.

The work that we do is guided by SGInnovate’s Deep Tech Nexus Strategy, where we add tangible value to Singapore’s deep tech startup ecosystem in two key areas: Human Capital and Investment Capital.

As the Head of Talent Networking, my team and I are focused on building the deep tech talent pool in Singapore by enhancing the technical capabilities of talents through learning opportunities, as well as expanding the deep tech talent marketplace so that talents and high-potential startups can seek each other out.

My vision is really to back the current and new generation of the workforce in staying relevant through skills upgrading and training, so that they would be equipped to capitalise on technology to stay relevant and value-add to the future economy.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?

The recently-announced enhanced Summation Programme is one of the exciting things that took place in 2018. The programme, which started this year, was inspired by countless interactions with the industry. It seeks to match and place selected students in various deep tech startups over a period of three to six months, where they are guided and mentored by some of the brightest minds in the industry.

The overwhelmingly positive feedback we got from both startups and apprentices gave us the confidence to extend confirmed placements to students from Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, and Singapore University of Technology and Design. This means that each university will be allocated dedicated apprenticeship seats for its students. Apprentices will also be given free deep tech training to help them acquire and utilise skills to build real-life applications in different industries.

The programme is really a great demonstration of how SGInnovate works with Institutes of Higher Learning and industry partners to nurture the next generation of deep tech talents. This is critical in helping Singapore meet the growing global demands for these specialised talents.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2018, what would it be?

It is a piece of advice that I would share every year, not just in 2018 – one needs to be open-minded and receptive to new ideas and possibilities.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2019?

I would really love to see the continued real-world application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) across industries. It was really interesting to see how in 2018, one of SGInnovate’s portfolio companies, AIDA Technologies (AIDA) built an AI-powered Straight Through Processing (STP) engine to help a major health insurer in Singapore speed up the processing of its health insurance claims from days to mere seconds.

This was an exciting development for us, because we saw the result of our efforts – the commercial application of deep tech. It is very encouraging for us to know that the STP engine is currently processing thousands of health claims a month.

The speed at which AI is developing is astounding, and 2019 will be an exciting year as the technology starts to see wider adoption across different industries. Despite these exciting developments, on a personal level, I still value the human-to-human interactions, which I don’t think AI would be able to replace.

What are your priorities for 2019?

As we progress into 2019, my team and I will remain focused on enhancing the human capital potential of Singapore’s deep tech ecosystem. We will continue to build deep tech talent capabilities through world-class learning opportunities, while continually seeking out the best and hard-to-reach deep tech talents for ambitious and capable startups.

What is one skill that has helped you the most throughout the course of your career?

Having a positive outlook and the tenacity to push ahead despite challenges that may come my way.

What advancements do you predict will happen in your field in the next ten years?

The pervasiveness of technology in our lives means we must all be equipped with the right skill sets to remain relevant as the nature of work continues to evolve. Around the world, you can see education systems pivoting to ensure that students are equipped with skill sets that will allow them to thrive in the new world of work.

Singapore has always been strong in the STEM disciplines and this is fantastic for research – a precursor to deep tech startups. Instead of radically moving away from what we are strong in, we ought to leverage our strength in STEM and research as they are crucial for jobs in the new digital economy.

Coffee, yoga, music… what powers you through your day?

A fantastic group of co-workers.