BEIJING: Singapore businesses will soon get more help in connecting with technology companies and start-ups in China, with the first Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) overseas initiative launched in Beijing Friday (Nov 24).

This was officiated by Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at a Tech and Innovation Summit in the Chinese capital, organised by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and real estate company CapitaLand.

Led by IE Singapore, the GIA was a key recommendation in the Committee on the Future Economy’s report last year.

The goal is to strengthen links with leading innovation hubs around the world, as well as increase opportunities for Singapore students and enterprises.

In China, IE Singapore says it aims to improve access to talent, capital, customers and partners in innovation hubs like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Suzhou and Wuhan.

At the summit, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between IE Singapore, CapitaLand and leading Chinese co-working space operator UrWork to customise accelerator programmes that will allow exchanges between Singapore and China start-ups.

“I see a lot of potential where both countries can work together in the area of innovation,” said Mr Heng, who spoke in Chinese at the event.

He noted that at the China Communist Party’s 19th Congress in October, China President Xi Jinping had prioritised strategic initiatives aimed at innovation.

Local governments have also made efforts to promote innovation and commercialisation of research and development.

“With so much energy and potential in the Chinese innovation ecosystem, what is important is to bring together people with many talents and from diverse backgrounds, to work together, so that they can exchange ideas and inspire one another to experience and create new solutions that can be of value to others,” said Mr Heng.

CapitaLand China CEO Lucas Loh demonstrates to Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat cashless payment by scanning a product’s barcode on a mobile phone at the IE Singapore – CapitaLand Tech & Innovation Summit in Beijing, China. (Photo: CapitaLand)

Under the initiative, IE Singapore also hopes to strengthen links between Singapore companies and Chinese technology players.

Mr Heng pointed out that CapitaLand is a good example of a major Singapore enterprise that has recognised the innovation capacity of China.

At the summit, for example, nine start-ups, including three from Singapore were able to pitch their ideas to nearly 300 representatives from Chinese government agencies in Beijing, incubators, venture capitalists and research institutes.

Winning teams get to testbed their solutions at CapitaLand’s office buildings, shopping malls, as well as residential and integrated developments in both China and Singapore.

CapitaLand has also signed agreements with Chinese players to launch a China-focused venture fund, as well as to roll out facial recognition technology at its offices and malls in China and Singapore.

In addition, the company entered a strategic alliance with China UnionPay to launch cashless payments in China through its CapitaStar App.

“The benefits for CapitaLand are a few areas,” said Mr Lucas Loh, CEO of CapitaLand China.

“More efficiency would mean lower operating costs. I think engaging the customer would mean that I can do more target marketing, thereby bringing in more customers.” 

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