Singapore’s IMDA launches community-building initiatives targeted at the emerging tech ecosystem

By Si Ying Thian

Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has launched a number of initiatives to bring together a wider range of stakeholders in emerging tech, complementing current industry development efforts.

Singapore's IMDA recently launched community-building initiatives targeted at stakeholders in the emerging tech ecosystem. Image: IMDA.

Singapore’s tech and media regulator, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), has begun running community-building initiatives as of August 2023, ranging from technical sharing sessions, roundtables and workshops, targeted at local and regional stakeholders in the emerging tech ecosystem. 

Tech experts and researchers who presented at one of the technical sharing sessions (TSS) around the topic of trustworthy AI. Image: IMDA.

Speaking to GovInsider, Dr Ong Chen Hui, IMDA’s Assistant Chief Executive, BizTech Group, said that the sessions are aligned with Singapore’s goal of becoming “a magnet for research and development in emerging technologies such as AI, future communications and connectivity, quantum-safe technologies, digital infrastructure and trusted technologies.”


Such community-building initiatives aim to support knowledge sharing, collaboration, talent development, as well as business development and expansion among emerging tech stakeholders.


“Globally, IMDA wants to establish collaborations where research and innovation can address pressing worldwide challenges.


“By bridging the gap between tech developers, researchers, investors, and businesses, we want to help discover new ways of leveraging emerging tech to build novel tech solutions for businesses to adopt,” said Dr Ong about the role of these initiatives in achieving Singapore’s broader ambitions.

Connecting tech experts, industry, academia, and the government 


One such initiative by IMDA is the technical sharing sessions (TSS), which the agency piloted in August 2023. In these sessions, IMDA invites renowned tech experts and researchers to present the latest emerging tech topics. 

Q&A sessions follow the technical sharing sessions (TSS) to promote engagement between tech experts, researchers and the audience. Image: IMDA.

After the presentations, there are Q&A sessions to promote engagement with the audience, who come from the industry, academia, and the government.


The first of these sessions focused on large language models.


“We wanted to convene the ecosystem and create a conducive environment where practitioners are able to speak to one another, sparking new ideas and building that culture of innovation for their respective fields,” explained Dr Ong.


IMDA also partners with government agencies and industry partners to organise these sessions. 


One such partnership is with government-owned deeptech investor SGInnovate, Singapore Management University and IBM to host the annual Hack for Cities hackathon, where participants are tasked with using technologies to tackle real-life industry challenges in smart cities. The most recent hackathon concluded this September.


“We want more researchers from academia and the industry to come together and share their work so that ultimately, organic collaborations will occur that benefit the entire ecosystem,” said Dr Ong.

Complementing current funding efforts


Such community-building initiatives complement IMDA’s current regulatory and funding efforts to develop Singapore’s digital economy, which contributed to 17.3% of the national GDP in 2022, up from 13% in 2017.


IMDA plays a key role in bridging the research translation gap, said Dr Ong, which refers to the process of converting research into practical applications.


Under Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 plan, a five-year  blueprint for research and innovation, IMDA and the National Research Foundation (NRF) have invested at least S$120 million (US$88 million) to build Singapore’s capabilities in future communications and connectivity, as well as digital trust.


It also works alongside other government agencies and businesses to promote the adoption of new technologies in society.


For example, IMDA introduced the S$30 million (US$21 million) 5G innovation Programme in 2021 to accelerate 5G enterprise adoption and commercialisation. Earlier this year, it partnered Hyundai to develop the world's first 5G-enabled built-to-order electric vehicle factory.

Strategic pilot project collaborations to follow the sharings


Dr Ong said that following the sharing sessions, it looks at strategic pilot project collaborations to better support researchers to “amplify their technology to the industry [and] ease research outcomes into tech translation.”


As the connector, IMDA will help researchers identify industry partners to collaborate on pilot projects with, validate their technologies in the real-world setting to get user feedback, and use the feedback to refine the market-readiness of the technologies.


GovInsider earlier covered the new possibilities of 5G technology for various industries spanning maritime, healthcare, education, and tourism.


IMDA’s next TSS will be a hybrid event happening on 30 November 2023 around the topic of green computing, with presenters coming from IBM, Red Hat and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). You can sign up here if you are keen to attend.