Singapore to boost digital R&D

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SINGAPORE -- The Singapore government has set aside S$40 million ($26 million) to build a "research and development culture in the interactive digital media sector," the Media Development Authority said Friday.

The Microfunding Scheme will offer grants of S$50,000 ($33,000) each to young entrepreneurs and is part of a S$500 million ($327 million) budget announced last year to boost Singapore's interactive digital media sector in the next five years.

MDA chief executive officer, Christopher Chia, said the authority hoped to seed about 750 projects over the five-year period.

The scheme will be managed by the MDA's Interactive and Digital Media Research and Development Program Office.

"We are looking for projects that are rooted in innovative R&D, in an early stage of development but with the potential to create a sustainable edge, address a unique selling point in both the regional and international markets, and possess defensible intellectual property rights," Dr. Chia said.

The Microfunding Scheme is a key component of the MDA's i.JAM (IDM Jump-start and Mentor) initiative, which also includes an online platform designed to promote innovation.

Michael Yap, the IDM R&D Program Office's executive director, said the Microfunding Scheme and the platform under the i.JAM initiative would "serve as the 'catch-all' for potentially impactful ideas and serve as a breeding ground of ideas."

"One of the initiative's best outcomes is that a sustainable ecosystem will be created that encourages and supports startups," Yap said, adding that Singapore "has a distance to cover compared to more developed countries."

"It's a journey and we need to fill the gap. We are pursuing this path of national economic development in which research and development is a critical movement, and we need to catch up with some of the world's established innovation centers," Yap said.
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