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Heng Swee Keat launches startup initiative, fintech office

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Finance Minister Heng Swee Kiat on Friday announced the launch of SG-Innovate - a startup initiative he unveiled last week with Budget 2016 - and a new financial technology (fintech) office for startups.

FINANCE Minister Heng Swee Kiat on Friday announced the launch of SG-Innovate - a startup initiative he unveiled last week with Budget 2016 - and a new financial technology (fintech) office for startups.

"Innovation will be critical to our future. These initiatives will be very important in transforming our economy, and create better jobs for our people and a better economy that is more vibrant," he told reporters at BASH, Singapore's largest integrated startup space at JTC Launchpad @ one-north.

SG-Innovate will be formed as a company under the National Research Foundation (NRF); Steve Leonard, currently executive deputy chairman of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), will assume role of chief executive.

The new overarching platform - which will catalyse innovation through creating startups in new emerging sectors - will facilitate the commercialisation of new technologies created across all the sectors or pillars, leveraging the US$19 billion investment in the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan.

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Said Mr Heng: "It will provide a way of connecting budding entrepreneurs with smart money, mentors as well as labour markets."

SG-Innovate will build on efforts by Infocomm Investments (IIPL), the investment arm of IDA, which has since 2000 nurtured startups in the ICT sector through partnering industry leaders, venture capitalists and accelerators.

IIPL will be re-organised as the first pillar (ICT) within SG-Innovate. Other pillars will include fintech, smart energy, digital manufacturing, digital health and Internet of Things.

The FinTech Office, co-led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and SG-Innovate, was formally announced by Mr Heng on Friday.

Launching on May 3, 2016, it will be a one-stop virtual entity - in a whole-of-government approach - to promote Singapore as a fintech hub; its tasks include reviewing and enhancing fintech-related funding schemes, and proposing strategies to boost the local fintech ecosystem.

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