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Public ‘must step up’ to realise Smart Nation vision

SINGAPORE — While the Government will muster all resources, build the infrastructure and create schemes, the private sector and members of the public have to step up in order for Singapore to realise its Smart Nation vision, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Public ‘must step up’ to realise Smart Nation vision

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (blue) at the Founders Forum Smart Nation Singapore Welcome Reception at the Istana on 20 April 2015. Photo: Wee Teck Hian

SINGAPORE — While the Government will muster all resources, build the infrastructure and create schemes, the private sector and members of the public have to step up in order for Singapore to realise its Smart Nation vision, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

“We need you, the companies and the people, to step forward, to contribute, to spark the bright ideas,” he said.

Speaking at the Founders Forum Smart Nation Singapore reception held at the Istana yesterday, Mr Lee made a pitch to about 200 people including investors, government officials and corporate bigwigs from the United States, Europe and Asia to use Singapore as the base to “change the world” and tackle its biggest challenges using technology.

Citing the examples of Electronic Road Pricing and water technologies pioneered by the Republic, Mr Lee noted how the Government had succeeded in these efforts and created models for others to study. “We are embarking on our Smart Nation journey with the same determination.”

The Republic provides the ideal place for firms and individuals to create prototypes and test bed new ideas, as it is compact and allows innovations to be scaled up. “If you can make it work in Singapore, you have a chance to adapt and apply it to other contexts. If it doesn’t work in Singapore, it’s probably worth a rethink,” he said.

To make Smart Nation succeed, Singapore needs an entrepreneurial culture, which Mr Lee said was taking root here. He noted that at a time when “grey clouds are hovering over the world economy”, the technology industry is one of the bright spots. He reiterated that Singapore is “well-placed to take advantage of the technology and make a quantum leap forward”, citing factors such as an information-technology-savvy population, the push for e-Government, and the society’s “rational, technological and forward-looking” ethos.

Mr Lee reiterated the Smart Nation initiative’s priorities: Help elders age in place, seek breakthrough solutions in mobility, and become a safe and secure data marketplace for companies to extract insights on market research and consumer trends.

A Smart Nation Programme Office has been set up under the Prime Minister’s Office. It is headed by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan.

Mr Lee said he has a personal interest in the Smart Nation initiative. “Forty years ago, after doing a Math degree, I went on to study computer science, on my father’s advice. He said there’s a future in that and he was right!”

The Founders Forum is a private network of more than 3,000 technology entrepreneurs from all over the world. Among those who are in town are Dr Jeffrey Rayport, a faculty member in the entrepreneurship unit at Harvard Business School.

Yesterday’s reception kicks off a week of Smart Nation-related events, including panel discussions and a carnival where the public can dabble in the latest technology innovations and take part in a coding hackathon.

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