12 July 17 The Business Times by CHAI HUNG YIN
GLOBAL technology giant Siemens opens its first fully integrated digitalisation hub in Singapore on Tuesday, with plans to help companies in the South-east Asia region digitalise.
Already, it has nailed three partnerships with SP Group, ST Electronics and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to develop smart solutions, which were also inked on Tuesday.
In a showcase of digitalisation, the launch was held simultaneously here and its headquarters in Munich, Germany , with guests at both sides witnessing the event via live video feeds.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Siemens AG president and chief executive officer (CEO) Joe Kaeser unveiled a digital plaque in Munich to mark the hub's opening, while Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran and Siemens Singapore CEO Dr Armin Bruck graced the event in Singapore.
In his speech, PM Lee said Singapore's partnership with Siemens goes back more than a hundred years ago when it first set up here in 1908, with a Technical Bureau operating as a sales office.
He said: "Siemens has been a steadfast partner and participant in our development story. It's created jobs and built up our capabilities in key industries like oil and gas, power, transport and healthcare. Siemens' choice of Singapore to pioneer its integrated Digitalisation Hub reflects its confidence in our long-term relationship."
The hub, Siemen's first in the world to integrate multi-disciplinary digitalisation specialists from different businesses, will support digitalisation efforts of companies in the urban infrastructure, advanced manufacturing and health care sectors.
It will tap Siemens' cloud-based platform, MindSphere, as well as develop and commercialise digital solutions across all its business divisions.
At the outset, 60 specialists from a variety of disciplines will work at the hub, with plans to hire 300 digitalisation specialists by 2022.
Projects like this, said PM Lee, are part of Singapore's journey towards becoming a smart nation, with the digital economy being a major element of its future economy.
Singapore came up first in global digital competitiveness as ranked recently by the IMD World Competitiveness Centre. The nation is also hosting about half of South-east Asia's data centre capacity currently.
Said PM Lee: "We have built a strong digital infrastructure. In Singapore, we hope companies can try out innovative ideas expeditiously in a favourable, conducive environment with a supportive government before scaling up for the region and the world. And SMEs, small and medium enterprises, can benefit from programmes to improve their operational performance, productivity and efficiency."
In building a strong pipeline of digital-ready talent, schools are introducing basic coding skills and universities are implementing compulsory digital literacy undergraduate modules.
Study awards and training schemes have also been rolled out under the SkillsFuture programme to boost workforce in digital-related fields like computer programming, data science and cybersecurity, PM Lee noted.
Dr Bruck said Singapore was an easy choice as the home for the hub due to the nation's "distinctive readiness" in terms of industrial and urban infrastructure.
One of the three agreements inked was with SP Group to develop smart energy management software platform and urban microgrid solutions.
Said SP Group CEO Wong Kim Yin: "SP Group will work with Siemens to integrate renewable sources, such as solar and waste, and energy storage technologies, using the urban microgrid platform. These digital solutions will help consumers save energy, while continuing to enjoy a world-class reliability of electricity supply in Singapore."
The collaboration between NTU and Siemens is to create data-driven innovations for urban infrastructure, such as mobility solutions based on self-driving vehicles. The partnership with ST Electronics is to co-create and proactively market innovative digital use cases in transportation.
Going forward, there are plans to establish similar hubs in places like Hong Kong and Dubai, said Dr Bruck.
He noted that Siemens is also working on bids for public tenders, such as Land Transport Authority's tender to digitalise the MRT network.