Singapore takes the lead in public-private data collaboration

In the race to the top of the global data economy, Singapore is light years ahead of its ASEAN counterparts, and in many respects, emerging as a world leader in data collaboration and innovation.

One area where it has led the world is in its capacity for public and private collaboration. The Singaporean government’s new highly unified data sharing framework has the potential to set it even further apart in this respect from other countries, both in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Here’s our look at how it could shape Singapore’s future role in the global digital economy.


A uniquely unified data policy approach

In June 2019, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) released its Trusted Data Sharing Framework, allowing both public and private sector companies in Singapore to share data safely and systematically. It aims to address three key pain points companies face when sharing data assets – mutual trust, regulatory compliance, and lack of standardised sharing methodologies.

Singapore has made no secret of its ambition to be a “global hub for data exchange”, with the IMDA framework being essential to helping business leaders prepare for the unique risks – and vast opportunities – associated with data collaboration. It offers actionable guidance on legal agreements, data strategy, and managing data sharing projects.

What makes the framework particularly unique is that it was co-developed with Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), based on the understanding that consumers expect strong safeguards and clarity on regulatory compliance when sharing their data with organisations. This ‘willingness to share’ is critical to supporting the development of innovative new products and services which can help to ensure Singapore’s position as one of the world’s leading digital economies.

Data Republic was accredited by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in August 2019 as a comprehensive governance solution for inter-organisational data collaboration.  

On the accreditation, Mr Edwin Low, Director of Enterprise Growth Acceleration, Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore said:

We are pleased to have Data Republic come on board our Accreditation@SG Digital programme. We see great potential in their platform supporting the needs of Government and enterprises in enabling innovation through secure data sharing, as Singapore moves towards the Digital Economy.


Big investments in AI, ML and startup innovation

For Singapore’s government, innovation is more than just a buzzword. It has an ongoing commitment to maintain R&D spending at one percent of GDP, and has pledged to invest SGD$19 billion in research funding as part of its Research Innovation and Enterprise (RIE 2020) plan.

With PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forecasting that artificial intelligence (AI) could contribute nearly US$16 trillion to the global economy by 2030 through business transformation, Singapore’s government is keen to establish the country as an AI and high-tech startup powerhouse. Towards this end, its National Research Fund (NRF) recently set up the Singapore Data Science Consortium (SDSC), pledging up to SGD$150 million over five years towards its AI Singapore (AISG) program.

Public and private collaborations are a cornerstone of the program. Its 100 Experiments (100E) initiative provides 1:1 funding of up to SGD$250,000 for organisations to develop custom AI solutions with assistance from Singapore’s universities and A*STAR research institutes. Around 40 projects have already been approved with a nine to 18-month minimum viable product (MVP) timeline. They include a partnership with travel website Expedia to improve the accuracy of its online search engine for different languages, and another with biotech startup Proteona to help develop AI tools for cell therapy and cancer research.

AI, particularly deep machine learning, has already has transformative impacts on Singapore’s government services, where it has been used for speech recognition, detecting drowning incidents, and catching fraudulent activity in its SkillsFuture program. Another recent innovation is the country’s National Digital Identity Project, which seeks to establish a centralised biometrics database to streamline residents’ access to different government services. The country is also pursuing a unified QR code payment system, and is ranked as the second most-prepared country in the world to adopt autonomous vehicles.

The new data sharing framework is expected to empower emerging technologies such as AI by incorporating accountability, transparency and human-centricity by design, from start to finish. More broadly, it will enable better and more trusted data flows both within the local ecosystem and globally, helping to drive innovation and economic growth.


Marketplace advantages for public and private collaboration

Singapore is the third most innovative city in the world, according to a recent report from global property firm JLL, with the economy supported by large foreign investments and host to a rapidly growing startup scene. It is renowned for its innovations in fintech, and has become a global hotspot for AI, blockchain, robotics and advanced manufacturing, and other emerging platforms. Its business-friendly policies, highly educated workforce, and uniquely concentrated marketplace have helped make it an ideal environment for public-private joint ventures.

One of the most common challenges we have seen is that business leaders aren’t sure where to begin in leveraging the data economy, or how to scale up their participation in it. The IMDA’s new data sharing framework gives Singaporean organisations the guidance, methodologies and systematic approaches they need to energise their data flows and support the development of innovative solutions – and customised services and processes – for different market segments.

With the ability to quickly establish trust with partners when sharing data, it means they’ll be able to rapidly prototype cross-industry data collaboration solutions, and scale and optimise them with similar speed. That means solving bigger problems, responding faster to market changes, and winning first-move advantage in the data economy.

Thanks to these unique market dynamics, Data Republic is so excited to be working in Singapore with leading companies to enable safe and scalable data collaboration.



Interested in public-private data collaborations?

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