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Eco-systems a must for developing technologies: ST Electronics head

Mr Singh says "industry alliances have helped to shorten time to market for many innovative technologies".


ST Electronics believes that there is a need to develop industry eco-systems with the participation of government agencies, industry, research institutions, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and startups.

A collaboration between all stakeholders in such systems would help to co-develop new technologies and solutions quickly and efficiently, says company president Ravinder Singh.

"The technology cycle is now much shorter and companies need to collaborate if we are to continuously innovate and develop new products and services. We are living in a much more technologically collaborative era and industry alliances have helped to shorten time to market for many innovative technologies," Mr Singh says in an interview with The Business Times.

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ST Electronics has several such on-going collaborations. Some of the company's recently-announced partnerships include one with Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) in cybersecurity, advanced secured communications collaboration with Motorola Solutions, and a partnership with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore to jointly develop smart technologies involving data analytics and autonomous operations for port operations.

The partnership with SUTD has resulted in the setting up of the S$44.3 million ST Electronics-SUTD Cyber Security Laboratory. The laboratory is supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and provides a new platform for professors and students to conduct research and development in cybersecurity. It also provides future career opportunities in this niche speciality, Mr Singh says.

"We are also engaging with local SMEs, tapping their expertise as well as helping to strengthen their capabilities.

"A good example is how we have worked with SMEs during the development of TeLEOS-1, Singapore's first commercial Earth observation satellite, and we will continue doing so to build a thriving space eco-system," Mr Singh observes.

One thrust area for ST Electronics is the development of technologies that allow cities to function in a "smart" manner.

During the recent CommunicAsia 2017, ST Electronics showcased, among others, smart mobility solutions for integrated estate management, a smart car park platform, a smart metro control centre and other public safety and security solutions. The company also introduced smart infrastructure solutions.

The ST Electronics boss notes that there are many areas in which Singapore has moved ahead in developing "smart" capabilities, especially in e-government services.

"Whether it is filing your income tax or making a new passport, Singaporeans today enjoy a hassle free and high quality user experience. Smart Nation will take this to a new level beyond not just making it convenient to access government services but helping overcome some of the urban challenges that all cities are confronted with in areas such as public transportation, utilities, security and even the environment," he adds.

"Public transportation is a good example. While creating and building capacity in public transportation is essential, smart services can not only maximise their utilisation but also increase efficiency.

"At another level, smart services can be more effective in providing capacity when and where it is needed, using predictive capabilities, and beyond that, providing reliable and timely information that can shape commuter behaviour to optimise their travel patterns and travel time. In the longer term when autonomous vehicles are mature, we can expect a more responsive taxi service that may well reduce private ownership and see higher utilisation rates for cars. This is one example of how Smart Nation can have an impact and certainly be transformational," Mr Singh says.

He notes that Singapore is rapidly moving towards the fourth Industrial Revolution into the domain of data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics and IoT (Internet of Things). "As our digital footprint increases, so does our prospect of being attacked in the cyber realm and hence it is necessary to develop cybersecurity capabilities in Singapore."

Mr Singh adds that there is an urgent need to develop necessary cyber skills. These include personnel to operate cybersecurity operations centres, audit and patch information systems and to develop cybersecurity solutions. "This is a significant challenge as we have to ramp up our capabilities in cybersecurity quickly."

The company started the ST Electronics Cyber Security Centre in 2014 to train cybersecurity specialists.

"We also partnered with the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)² to offer a Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) training for new ICT (Infocomm Technology) entrants, enabling them to gain hands-on practical knowledge in cybersecurity."

Beyond training, a full suite of cybersecurity products and solutions for government agencies and companies are available, Mr Singh adds. "We will continue to strengthen our capabilities by collaborating with the government and industry eco-system to develop new cybersecurity products and solutions that address the increasingly sophisticated cyber environment."