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Funds set aside for SMEs, public sector to adopt new building technologies

THE Singapore government will be setting aside S$19 million until January 2023 to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) defray the cost of adopting digital solutions that can help them improve construction productivity. 

Another S$120 million will be set aside for public sector agencies to adopt design for manufacturing and assembly (DfMA) technologies in projects launched by 2021. 

Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad also said at Wednesday’s Committee of Supply debate that more will be done to build a core of local professionals for new job roles in the construction sector, such as building information modellers, production managers, and logistics and supply chain planners. This will include those seeking a mid-career switch.

He said that the built environment sector has seen good progress in its transformation efforts - in the areas of DfMA, Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD) and green buildings. Singapore is on track to meet its DfMA adoption target of 40 per cent this year, and aims to achieve a higher rate of 70 per cent by 2025.

In the area of IDD, which is the use of digital technologies to integrate work processes and connect stakeholders working on the same project throughout the building life cycle, there are now 35 public and private sector projects piloting IDD, compared to 12 projects in 2018. 

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To further help firms build up their digital capabilities, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in partnership with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), have developed an industry digital plan for the construction and facilities management industry to guide firms in their digital transformation efforts.

This will be through a three-stage roadmap to give them a step-by-step guide on the solutions to adopt at each stage of their IDD journey. 

Under the Productivity Solutions Grant to defray the costs for adoption of pre-approved digital solutions, SMEs can receive up to 70 per cent funding. 

The government will also further enhance its Buildability Framework this year, by making DfMA the default way of building in Singapore and progressively requiring higher buildability standards for other development types, including commercial and institutional buildings. 

The framework will be rejigged to encourage the industry to incorporate DfMA technology into the structural, architectural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing designs for buildings. The public sector will acontinue to generate lead demand for DfMA.

“To this end, we will set aside S$120 million under the Public Sector Construction Productivity Fund for more public sector projects to adopt DfMA, for projects launched by 2021,” he said. For private sector projects, funding support will be given for projects which adopt DfMA technologies voluntarily.

Over the next few months, BCA will also co-create the Singapore Green Building Masterplan 2020 with its stakeholders to push for more energy efficient buildings by raising the minimum energy performance standards, and identifying all buildings when publishing the data. This is so that the best performing buildings will serve as role models to encourage others to improve their own energy efficiency.

The government will also progressively introduce new professional conversion programmes (PCPs) to prepare mid-career entrants to join the sector. 

On this front, BCA is working with the Workforce Singapore and the Ministry of Manpower to enhance the PCPs for the sector. 

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