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14 Nov 2019 Updated 19 Dec 2019

ESG expands GIA network, launches new innovation platform with IMDA

The Business Times Sharanya Pillai

ENTERPRISE Singapore (ESG) has extended its Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) network to London to help startups and SMEs connect to the UK market, the government agency announced in a press release on Wednesday. 



ESG has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UK accelerator IoT Tribe to enable a two-way exchange of companies between Singapore and the UK. IoT Tribe will run two GIA programmes supported by ESG, each commencing in the first quarter of 2020, with up to 10 participants for the inaugural cohorts. 


One of the programmes is IoT Tribe SG Plus, a market acceleration programme for Singapore startups and SMEs keen to expand into the UK and Europe. It will comprise workshops, networking opportunities and a one-week immersion in London for participants to meet potential clients.


The other programme, IoT Tribe SG, is designed for Europe-based startups to springboard into Asia, leveraging talent and the ecosystem in Singapore. 




It is essential for startups to be able to find the right partners to scale up, which GIA enables, Edwin Chow, assistant chief executive for innovation and enterprise at ESG, said in a press release.


"With London added to our GIA Network, startups and SMEs will now get access to a leading startup and financial hub. We encourage our startups and SMEs to use these networks as part of their growth," he added. 


Separately, ESG is now also working with three new GIA partners, in China, Indonesia and Japan



In Beijing, ESG has teamed up with DayDayUp (DDU), a business community of Chinese and global innovators. DDU will run a GIA Acceleration Programme for up to 20 Singapore startups and SMEs over one year, to help them access the Chinese market. It will involve three days of preparation in Singapore followed by eight days in Beijing, including a demo day to showcase their solutions.


DDU will also support Singapore startups and SMEs, including those which are not participating in the acceleration programme, through their coworking space, incorporation service, and HR service.


Similarly, in Jakarta, ESG, the Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and global accelerator Plug and Play Asia-Pacific will enter a partnership to run a GIA Acceleration Programme, with market acceleration and innovation workshops. 


And in Tokyo, science venture accelerator Leave a Nest and its Singapore subsidiary will run a GIA Acceleration Programme to assist Singapore deep tech startups and SMEs in accessing the Japanese market. Up to 10 participants will undergo 10 days of training in Singapore, followed by a week-long immersion in Tokyo. 


As a GIA partner, Leave a Nest Singapore will also offer advisory support and co-working spaces to Singapore-based startups and SMEs in Tokyo.


Promoting open innovation 


Beyond expanding the GIA, ESG also jointly launched the Open Innovation Network (OIN) with IMDA on Wednesday. The OIN is an online directory featuring open innovation challenges from corporates, government agencies, Trade Associations and Chambers and ecosystem enablers calling for tech solutions. 


Tech innovators, including SMEs and startups, can then use the OIN to search for relevant problem statements to propose their solutions to.




ESG is launching an inaugural Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge, on OIN. The call aggregates 14 problem statements spanning sustainability themes, such as resource efficiency, green transport and sustainable built environment. 


"As a start, the OIN will serve as the gateway for both problem owners and solution providers to plug into our ecosystem for partnerships. Eventually, we hope to scale this up to a regional platform," ESG's Mr Chow said in the release. 


With the launch of the OIN, IMDA will also scale up its existing Open Innovation Portal (OIP) to include sector-wide innovation challenges. Launched last year, the OIP is a virtual crowd-sourcing platform that matches business challenges with solution providers of technology expertise and innovation capabilities.


To date, 102 challenges have been hosted over five innovation calls on the OIP, involving over 5,000 solvers in the community and total prize monies of about S$3 million. The OIP is also accessible on the OIN gateway.


On Wednesday, IMDA launched its latest innovation call with challenges from the food services, food manufacturing and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions sectors. 


The OIP innovation call will have 35 challenge statements with over S$1 million prize monies. At least 15 of them are sector-wide problem statements led by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers and Investment Management Association of Singapore.


Howie Lau, chief industry development officer at IMDA, said: "We are excited to scale up the OIP to offer sector-wide challenges for the first time. Now, our vibrant pool of problem solvers can tackle issues of a larger scale and deploy good solutions across sectors, contributing to Singapore's digital economic transformation."


Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

Find out more about our Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) and GIA Acceleration Programmes here.


Find out more about our Open Innovation Network here.