HDB Launches Initiatives to Boost Development of Innovative Solutions for Better Living
Minister for National Development & Second Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong, launched the inaugural HDB Innovation Festival today. The two-day exhibition held at the HDB Hub Atrium showcases innovative solutions and programmes that could improve the living environment in HDB estates, spanning the domains of app development, construction technology, urban greenery and sustainable development. More details of the HDB Innovation Festival are in Annex A.
2 At the Festival, Minister Lawrence Wong announced two new initiatives that will provide more resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs and enterprises advance the development of innovative solutions that improve HDB living:
Launch of the Cool Ideas Enterprise – Aspiring entrepreneurs and enterprises with products or solutions that are ready for implementation can apply for funding and seek mentorship to help fine-tune or scale up their solutions for implementation. Where necessary, HDB may also allocate test-bedding sites for them to test-bed their solutions. Around $5 million has been set aside by Enterprise Singapore to support the programme over two years starting from November 2018. The programme is run by HDB in partnership with Enterprise Singapore, and supported by the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and the Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI).
Development of Pulse of the Heartlands – Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), HDB will collaborate with tech start-up Sentient.io, StarHub, IBM and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to leverage the digital capabilities of a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data platform and develop an ecosystem of apps and services that would be useful to residents. As residents use these apps, data collected on social trends and lifestyle preferences can be harnessed to better understand their needs and preferences. This will in turn enable companies to develop more apps and services that benefit residents.
3 HDB’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Cheong Koon Hean said, “Innovation is part of HDB’s DNA. HDB has been investing in the latest construction and digital technologies to constantly seek new solutions to deliver better products, services, and experiences for our residents. We would like to build more partnerships with the community and industry to drive greater innovation and to facilitate entrepreneurship by test bedding their ideas in our housing estates.”
4 As an open innovation programme, Cool Ideas Enterprise welcomes ideas from aspiring entrepreneurs or enterprises to improve the HDB living environment. The programme will focus on innovative solutions for the built environment, under the domains of Energy, Urban Greenery, Living Environment, Building Technology and Waste & Water. HDB, together with the relevant partner agencies, will support them in the following ways:
HDB will offer practical expertise and advice to help fine-tune the promising design solutions so that they are suitable for implementation in HDB estates. There are also opportunities for the solutions to be test-bedded at HDB’s Centre of Building Research – our master laboratory – and where feasible, to pilot these solutions in HDB estates such as Punggol, Yuhua and Tengah.
Enterprise Singapore is supporting this programme through Gov-PACT, where it will connect enterprises with innovative solutions to HDB. Enterprise Singapore will fund up to 70% of the development cost of each innovation. An estimated S$5 million will be awarded to multiple projects over two years.
Successful applicants can leverage Enterprise Singapore’s business networks to get their business going. They can also benefit from business training workshops offered by ACE, on how to market their solutions and expand their business outreach.
ACE will also facilitate the expansion of innovative solutions abroad where possible, through its ACE Connected Ecosystem, a network of regional and global partners in committed to support start-ups with two-way market access and assist them in scaling beyond the local market. Successful applicants will also have access to ACE’s Regional Innovation Hub, which provides corporates, small and medium enterprises, as well as local and regional start-ups with the network, resources and capabilities to drive co-innovation.
Successful applicants can tap on IPI’s technology marketplace as a resource platform to source for existing and emerging technologies to refine their products or services.
5 More details on the Cool Ideas Enterprise programme are in Annex B.
6 Under the Pulse of the Heartlands MOU, HDB will partner Sentient.io, StarHub, IBM and IMDA to develop an ecosystem of applications and services that will be useful to residents. The development of such an ecosystem will leverage Sentient.io’s AI and Data Platform, which comprises information on HDB towns such as shops in the neighbourhood, and AI capabilities such as a voice-enabled chatbot that could be integrated in future web and mobile applications for residents to interact with.
7 For a start, StarHub will develop a new mobile application that will provide residents with a one-stop digital directory to find out more about the services, amenities and events in their neighbourhood. With the app, residents will be able to explore the town and search for dining options, retailers and other services in their vicinity. Besides the search function, it will also feature a chatbot that can offer information and recommendations on where to shop or what to eat. Residents can also subscribe to notification alerts to stay up to date on the latest events happening near their homes.
8 A beta version of the app will be available for free download by 1Q 2019. More features will be rolled out progressively, beyond the digital directory of commercial shops.
9 Through data collected on Sentient AI and Data Platform, such as residents’ interests and frequently asked questions about their neighbourhood, agencies can glean insights to help them better plan and manage community facilities in future. For example, knowing which shops are frequently searched by residents could give HDB planners an indication of the type of shops that are in demand, and help them adjust planning guidelines for commercial shops. All data will be anonymised prior to analysis to safeguard residents’ privacy.
10 Over time, the platform will be enriched with more datasets as other public agencies and private companies come on board to offer more types of data, such as location and availability of transport and car park facilities. App developers can tap on the data amalgamated on this platform to build more apps, thus growing it into an ecosystem of apps and services that will benefit residents in HDB estates.
11 The Pulse of the Heartlands initiative is part of the Smart HDB Town Framework which maps out how HDB will create liveable, efficient, sustainable and safe towns for residents. Specifically, the collaboration will drive the domain of Smart Community under the framework, where HDB will leverage smart technologies and data analytics to better understand the needs and preferences of our residents, and create communities that are inclusive and resilient. More details of the framework can be found in Annex C.
 Funding support is part of the $80 million budgeted under the Gov-PACT initiative, announced at Budget 2017, to drive innovation through Government lead demand.