Sandbox that helped Singapore companies prototype digital government products rolled out to industry

By Yogesh Hirdaramani

At SGTech and IMDA’s Techblazers Awards, it was announced that a sandbox which helped Singaporean companies prototype products for the country’s digital government efforts has been expanded to support the digital industry.

Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA) Tech Acceleration Lab (TAL) sandbox environment has begun supporting companies in trialling and deploying products for companies. Image: IMDA

“Strong partnership between government and industry help to make sure innovations continue to flourish while downside risks are mitigated,” said Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information, at Singapore’s fifth annual Techblazer Awards, the nation’s highest accolade for tech innovations.


One such partnership is Singapore’s Tech Acceleration Lab (TAL), a sandbox initiative launched in 2021 by the country’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). The sandbox, which aims to help companies prototype and deploy tech projects for the Government, has now been rolled out to industry, she announced.

Sandbox to accelerate digital products for industry


Since 2021, the TAL sandbox environment has supported 46 companies in accelerating proof-of-concepts (PoCs) for Government projects to successful deployment through short-term access to the Government Commercial Cloud. In turn, this has helped government agencies testbed and deploy leading technologies from the private sector more easily.


The TAL Enterprise initiative will now help companies testbed and accelerate projects within enterprise-grade sandboxes for private sector clients, which often face complex IT security and compliance requirements similar to that of government cloud environments, said Minister Teo.


“With TAL Enterprise, newer companies with less [of a] track record have a better chance of getting recognised for their capabilities,” said Teo.


Due to complex Government security and deployment requirements, tech companies that aim to enable digital government efforts in Singapore have traditionally had to reckon with prolonged sales cycles.


The TAL has supported companies in reducing setup time from six to two months, said IMDA representatives at a media briefing before the awards ceremony. Of the 46 PoCs that have been successfully completed, 20 have been converted to paid contracts.


Since the pilot launch of TAL Enterprise in January 2023, eight companies have been onboarded, with 12 completed PoCs.

Awards that recognise tech innovation


At this year’s Techblazer Awards, 14 public and private organisations won awards in categories such as “Most Promising Innovation”, “Best Adoption”, “Student Techblazer”, and “Carbon Zero”, a new category rewarding tech-enabled projects that support carbon-reduction efforts.


“We believe that the tech community must take collective action and be a part of the solution,” said Wong Wai Meng, Chair of SGTech, during his opening remarks.


Clinching the Gold award for “Carbon Zero” this year was VFlowtech, which offers an energy storage solution called PowerCube that guarantees consistent power supplies from renewable power sources. The solution can be paired with a smart energy management system to balance energy supply and demand, and stabilise power grids.


For “Most Promising Innovation”, blockchain-based provider Accredify also garnered Gold for its verification tech solutions that enable organisations to create and issue traceable and verifiable digital documents. 


Zheng Wei Quah, CEO and co-founder of Accredify, previously shared with GovInsider how the startup worked with government agencies to roll out digital health passports and certificates during the Covid-19 pandemic, enabling the lifting of barriers to travel and the workplace.


For “Best Adoption”, which recognises organisations for their adoption of solutions based on emerging technologies, the Central Provident Fund Board was awarded under the public sector category for its GovCash project. 


The GovCash project allows users without bank accounts or smartphones to access government payments through a facial verification platform accessible at over 500 ATM machines across the country. 

Programmes to drive industry development


Beyond the expansion of TAL, SGTech announced three new programmes aimed at driving the development of the digital economy during the Techblazer Awards.


In partnership with Enterprise Singapore, the trade association unveiled a new B2B Mentorship Programme for Techblazer Awards participants, which aims to connect SMEs and local startups with experienced business and tech leaders through structured mentorship, shared Wong.


Next, SGTech has partnered with AI Singapore to roll out a Large Language Model (LLM) Application Developer Programme to equip the local workforce with AI capabilities. 


They are also working with Workforce Singapore to design programmes to help professionals transition into AI-related careers.


Finally, they will be rolling out a Sustainability Guided Programme to help SMEs begin their journey towards developing ESG reports in compliance with local and international standards.