SINGAPORE (May 27): Singapore’s smart nation ambitions have been further bolstered by a new partnership between Ascendas-Singbridge, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to form the Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab.

All three parties are looking to have a total of 30 co-innovation projects come out from the lab, which is expected to be launched at the end of the year as the first developer-led lab in Southeast Asia.

This announcement follows last year’s call for innovation led by IMDA, Ascendas and JTC.

Ascendas has published 12 problem statements in its call for innovation around facility management, and has implemented some of the solutions such as using data analytics for facility management.

The co-innovation lab will provide a platform for both technology companies and developers to come together to co-create solutions. The lab will facilitate companies with advice and provide a test bed for solutions, and hopes to tap on the US$45.3 billion ($62.2 billion) smart estates opportunity in Asia Pacific excluding Japan.

Ascendas intends to leverage on AIRMaker, its joint venture with Runyang Group, to engage with tech companies and evaluate solutions provided.

According to Jane Lim, assistant chief executive, IMDA, the lab will provides companies with something different from the traditional accelerator or incubator by establishing a connection between technology and the on-the-ground need for smart estates.

“[Businesses] need to know what the customer does, what are the problems they need to be solving; not just technology, but at what price to make it viable for wider use,” comments Lim.

Eligible companies would also be able to tap on financial and overseas support from both IMDA and ESG.

Importantly, this allows companies a structured way to tap onto ESG’s networks.

“We have offices all over the world and access to information and customers as well as the needs to help a company to scale more effectively in the market,” says Clarence Hoe, director, infrastructure services, ESG.

Science Park One and Two are estates that will provide a living lab for companies to test bed their solutions. “If you want to bring in technology to test in a mature estate or city, this is the place to do that. How technology companies bring in solutions to the space requires them to overcome challenges, that is something that is a lot more interesting,” says Jeffery Chua, chief executive officer, ASB services.

“The significance of what they [IMDA, ESG and Ascendas]  are doing here is really within the broader Asian context of rapid urbanisation. Cities are getting denser and mega cities are coming up in Asia. So within that context, buildings and the development of estates take on additional significance, because we want to make sure that the buildings are designed and operated in a way that is efficient from an energy point of view and also conducive for the customer and the user point of view,” said Minister of Communications and Information, S Iswaran.

“From the point of view of the companies that are providing the solutions as well, they need to find innovative ways of dealing with these new demands in Asia. So this is a good initiative, because it is a co-innovation platform for Smart Estates. It is an open platform which is significant as it means whether you are a technology solution provider or an Estate solution provider – within which many

SMEs are involved in that business – or you are a developer; you come together to define problem statements, find solutions, put them into practice, and then scale them across the region.

There is a lot of value in collaborations such as the Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab. We are encouraging more of our companies, especially the larger local enterprises, to take the lead in these kinds of effort and the Built environment sector is one where we have considerable expertise and presence,” he adds.