Thanks to intense government efforts, Singapore is positioning itself to become a leader in industrial IoT adoption in the APAC region. Source: Shutterstock

Thanks to intense government efforts, Singapore is positioning itself to become a leader in industrial IoT adoption in the APAC region. Source: Shutterstock

The mechanics of Singapore’s race to IoT leadership

SINGAPORE is known for its enterprising spirit, and despite its size, the city-state is one of the world’s most advanced economies.

More importantly, the country has a reputation of being forward-looking, an early adopter of emerging technologies, and continuously seeking to improve itself.

Singapore’s interest in the internet of things or IoT is one example of its efforts to facilitate and drive technology in the economy.

It has been keen on integrating the technology to transform its manufacturing sector (which accounts for 24.4 percent of its economy), make logistics more efficient, and drive data-driven decision-making across businesses.

IoT also plays a crucial role in Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, being driven by its economic planners and policymakers.

Further, as part of its SGD4.5 billion (US$3.30 billion) Industry Transformation Programme, the government has called for IoT adoption in five manufacturing clusters: Aerospace, electronics, energy and chemicals, marine and offshore, and precision engineering.

Intensifying government efforts

According to a report by law firm Osborne Clarke produced in association with digital publishers Conventus Law, the local government has been vital in promotion, and subsequent adoption of the Industrial IoT (IIoT) in Singapore.

For example, AI Singapore (AISG), a national AI programme launched by the National Research Foundation (NRF) has laid out several incentives to help industry players implement AI or AI-IoT technology within their operations.

“We incentivize companies by co-investing in projects. We’ll put up SGD250,000 (US$184,000) in cash and kind, and we expect the company to meet that. It lowers the risk for them by 50 percent.

“We bring in researchers and engineers with the necessary AI background, and the company brings both its domain expertise and engineers who we can train and work with,” said Laurence Liew, Director for AI industry Innovation at AISG.

The government method of pursuing IoT adoption seems to be working, as global automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler has made Singapore as part of its global R&D network, on top of establishing its refurbishment and repair services facility in the country.

“For us, a traditional manufacturing company, being in Singapore is definitely a wake-up call. Being in Singapore has accelerated our move into the whole field of IIoT,” said Markus Palder, general counsel for APAC at Schaeffler.

A regional leader in connectivity

In addition to investments in cloud infrastructure, IIoT and on relatively business-friendly policies, Singapore was ranked number one in the Asian Digital Transformation Index 2018 by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The country also has been a pioneer in the region in developing and establishing the narrow band-IoT (NB-IoT) network which was launched in 2017. Service rolled out commercially in 2018.

More recently, Singapore Management University (SMU) launched a Centre for AI and Data Governance and subsequently received a grant worth SGD4.5 million (US$3.3 million) from the government in efforts to push for open IoT standards and greater regulatory knowledge within the space.

In short, Singapore is slowly emerging as a thought leader for IIoT, and with the strong backing of the government, they just might beat China to become Asia’s leader in IoT adoption.