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Seeding innovation to ensure a liveable future while nurturing tech talent in Singapore

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur • 5 min read
Seeding innovation to ensure a liveable future while nurturing tech talent in Singapore
Huawei is encouraging community-led innovations and bolstering the growth of local start-ups to help Singapore remain a liveable city in the future. Photo: Shutterstock
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Last year, Singapore ranked 37th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index. The index reviews the stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure factors in determining liveability rankings for cities worldwide.

One way Singapore can improve its standing is by leveraging technology to improve its citizens’ quality of life. However, it will take a collective effort from the community, instead of just one institution, to find ways to solve real-world problems using technology.

Recognising that, Huawei launched a Tech4City competition in Singapore last year to motivate and empower youths to create innovative solutions that could help make the city more liveable and sustainable for future generations. Three hundred sixty-eight participants from local universities and polytechnics formed 141 teams to propose solutions to contribute to a greener city, promote Singapore’s culture or build an inclusive community. The proposals were assessed based on the depth of research, innovativeness and feasibility, social value, use of technology and the idea’s logical implementation.

Team SBay was among the finalists of the Tech4City competition last year. The team’s project, GarbAI, aims to increase the recycling rate and reduce the amount of waste generated in Singapore. To do so, it suggested using artificial intelligence — or, more specifically, computer vision solutions — to detect and remove contamination from recyclables and recycle the remaining leftovers.

Learning while competing

One of SBay’s members, Teo Rui Fang, says that although Tech4City was a competition, it provided the necessary guidance to enable participants to develop the best solution for the issue they chose to address. “We had access to mentors from academia, industry and Huawei, as well as clinic sessions — all of which helped us better understand the competition's themes (nature, culture and neighbour) and develop relevant ideas. We were also taught how to pitch our ideas effectively,” she adds.

See also: How will tech and AI pave the way for a more inclusive world?

Additionally, the Tech4City initiative enabled her team to learn more about enterprise technologies. “Huawei also allowed us to visit their AI Lab and DigiX Lab to learn and explore how to apply different technologies to our solution. This access to learning opportunities is useful for my team, mostly business students without technical backgrounds,” Teo adds.

To encourage more youths to unleash the power of technology and become change-makers, Huawei will launch this year’s edition of the Tech4City competition at the end of March. It will focus on well-being, learning, energy, mobility and finance. The winning team will walk away with $15,000, be fast-tracked into Huawei’s Seeds for the Future 2023 programme, and potentially score an internship with Huawei.

The Tech4City competition 2023 is now accepting applications at https://www.tech4city.sg/en/challenges/huaweitech4city.

See also: How inter-market analysis and market volatility can help traders increase their odds of success

Committed to nurturing talent

Seeds for the Future is Huawei’s global corporate social responsibility project to inspire the next generation of leaders through technological innovation and cross-cultural exchange. The programme has helped nurture more than 2.2 million digital talents across 150 countries over the past 14 years. Specific to Singapore, Huawei has trained 203 participants under the programme as of 2022.

The company has expanded its Seeds talent framework to enhance its talent development programmes, says Vicky Zhang, Huawei’s vice president of corporate communications, at the Huawei Digital Talent Summit on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress 2023 held in Barcelona, Spain.

She explained that the initiatives under the new Seeds framework would focus on the following:

  • Helping people to foster leadership skills
  • Offering hands-on training with industry experts so that students can make informed decisions when choosing their careers
  • Providing online classes and certifications to equip people with up-to-date skills and remain employable
  • Encouraging students to solve real-world issues using technology through contests
  • Bridging the digital divide by offering basic tech training to all, especially those in underserved areas.

Incubating local start-ups

Huawei Cloud launched the Spark Incubator programme last November to further encourage innovation in Singapore as part of its partnership with the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) PIXEL Innovation Hub.

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The programme will incubate up to 12 Singapore-based start-ups per cohort for five months and run twice a year. Targeting early-stage local start-ups in the pre-seed and seed space from sectors including FinTech, Web3, metaverse and software-as-a-service focused enterprises, the programme aims to support their growth to Series A and expansion in Singapore and the Asean region.

Participants will gain access to valuable resources and expertise from Huawei and IMDA to accelerate further and grow their business. Start-ups are expected to receive third-party financing over $250,000, increase their valuation by at least 20%, or cross $250,000 at their annual revenue in the post-programme.

Since its inception as a start-up accelerator in 2020, the Spark programme has received more than 3,000 applications globally, with US$50 million ($67 million) raised by Spark alums from investors.

Interested start-ups can register their interest in joining the May 2023 cohort of Huawei Cloud’s Spark Incubator programme at https://www.f6s.com/spark-incubator/apply.

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