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22 Nov 2021 Updated 23 Nov 2021

ESG, US Embassy will facilitate collaborations in sustainability

The Business Times RAFIK MANSOUR,TAN SOON KIM

ADDRESSING the climate crisis has been top of the agenda since United States President Joe Biden stepped into office in January this year, from re-joining the Paris Agreement to appointing John Kerry as the first Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) welcomed Biden's announcement of the US-Asean Climate Futures initiative under the expanded US-Asean Strategic Partnership at the recent 9th Asean-US Summit.

The Biden Administration aims to increase global investments in infrastructure through the Build Back Better World initiative, while encouraging companies to develop and deploy clean energy technologies in advanced renewables, energy storage, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, agriculture, and ocean-based solutions.

Likewise, Singapore has charted green targets over the next decade, including tapping cleaner electricity imports, increasing research and development in renewable energy and low-carbon technologies, and promoting homegrown innovation.

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding implementing the US-Singapore Partnership for Growth and Innovation, with the aim of strengthening economic collaboration, including in energy and environmental solutions.

Opportunities in clean energy and urban solutions

As the world's largest developed economy with strong market potential in clean energy technologies, the US is a choice destination for Singapore companies looking to collaborate with international partners or grow their businesses overseas in this space.

There are burgeoning opportunities in a few specific areas.

Offshore wind: Over the course of 2020, the US offshore wind project pipeline grew 24 per cent.

Singapore businesses with capabilities in offshore design, engineering, and construction can plug into the offshore wind supply chain.

For example, Keppel Offshore and Marine's shipyard in the US is building a wind turbine installation vessel for Dominion Energy, which will be available for charter hire.

Solar: The US will increasingly deploy more solar energy plants to decarbonise their power sector by 2050, and solar could provide up to 40 per cent of national power demand by 2035.

Singapore businesses have strong capabilities in solar project development, solar products, and advanced photovoltaic panel technologies, and may want to consider opportunities in this sector.

An example is the development of one of the world's largest inland floating solar photovoltaic systems by Sembcorp Industries and PUB.

Green buildings: Congress has legislated additional energy-efficiency requirements and programmes for federal buildings to reduce energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Singapore tech startup uHoo, which has developed a comprehensive indoor environmental monitoring and management system that detects at least 13 environmental parameters in one device, is used across the US to improve the health and well-being of employees and occupants.

Co-innovation opportunities in emerging sustainability solutions

Sustainable development has always been a national priority for Singapore.

Sustainability is both an imperative and a competitive advantage - Singapore businesses that develop sustainability capabilities and implement green initiatives will grow resilience to maintain their competitive advantage.

Singapore and the US can innovate and develop new sustainability solutions together.

Inovues, an American company focusing on insulating glass retrofit technology, was crowned one of the winners of the CapitaLand Sustainability X Challenge to support the test bed of high-technology sustainable solutions in the built environment, where they will pilot their innovations at selected CapitaLand properties worldwide.

Enterprise Singapore (ESG) works with corporates and government agencies to share challenge statements, which provides a platform for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and startups to develop innovative solutions - from ideation, pilot trials to commercialisation.

For instance, ESG's Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge (SOIC) has seen positive responses from demand drivers and solution providers.

Dole Sunshine Company participated in SOIC last year, launching challenge statements to reduce fruit loss and move towards zero fossil-fuel based plastic packaging.

Beyond innovation challenges, intermediaries like IPI Singapore can catalyse technology matching through online tech marketplaces and events including Crowdsourcing @ TechInnovation 2021.

Singapore and US companies could leverage such platforms to crowdsource ideas, co-innovate and catalyse the development and commercialisation of solutions.

Where to go, and how to start?

It is important for Singapore businesses to understand the interests of US partners and the operating environment, identify suitable entry locations, and localise sustainability solutions to meet market preferences.

Webinars and virtual missions organised by ESG and partners could help them stay abreast of the latest regulations and opportunities.

They can tap ESG's Overseas Centres, in New York and Los Angeles, and other partners to refine their go-to-market approach.

Startups can gain inroads into the Silicon Valley ecosystem through 500 Global, ESG's Global Innovation Alliance partner in San Francisco.

Trade shows and conferences remain effective in helping companies gain market entry.

This year, ESG led a delegation involving 28 companies to participate virtually in the SelectUSA Investment Summit, organised by the US Department of Commerce.

Businesses can reach out to the US Embassy in Singapore and the US Commercial Service to support their expansion into the market through strategic connections to federal and state government agencies.

At the recent Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology event, where sustainability and climate change were a key focus, businesses keen to explore opportunities in the US participated in the US Market Access Session.

Singapore businesses, especially SMEs, can tap the Enterprise Sustainability Programme to build new capabilities and capture global opportunities in the green economy through training workshops, product development projects, certification and more.

ESG's Enterprise Financing Scheme-Green also provides financing support to businesses that develop solutions to reduce waste, resources, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year, despite the challenging business landscape, around 120 Singapore companies worked with ESG to engage the US market for the first time.

As both countries move towards the green economy, the US Embassy and ESG are committed to facilitating more successful collaborations in clean energy and sustainability.

  • Rafik Mansour is charge d'affaires, US Embassy Singapore. Tan Soon Kim is assistant chief executive officer (Global Markets), Enterprise Singapore.


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