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Developing Top Notch Infocomm Professionals For The Digital Media And Entertainment Industry

9 November 2006 - Speech By Mr Chan Yeng Kit, CEO, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At the NUS-Carnegie Mellon-IDA Memorandum Of Intent Signing Ceremony, NUS University Hall.

Speech By Mr Chan Yeng Kit, CEO, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore At the NUS-Carnegie Mellon-IDA Memorandum Of Intent Signing Ceremony on 9 November 2006, NUS University Hall.

Professor Shih Choon Fong, President of the National University of Singapore,
Dr Jared Cohon, President of Carnegie Mellon University,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

A Very Good Morning.


1. I am very pleased and honoured to be here today for the signing of the Memorandum of Intent, for the collaboration between NUS School of Computing and Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Centre, on a concurrent Bachelor's and Master's programme. IDA is pleased to support this collaboration.

2. The collaboration is of strategic significance for Singapore, because it will produce top-notch Infocomm professionals to help fuel the growth of our Digital Media and Entertainment (DME) industry.

The Growing Digital Media and Entertainment Industry

3. The global DME market is huge, at over US$1.3 trillion last year. And it has been growing strongly. This is expected to continue. For example, according to estimates by PricewaterhouseCoopers1, spending for the global media and entertainment market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 7.3 per cent over the next few years. Growth is expected to be even stronger in the Asia Pacific, at a CAGR of 11.6 per cent.

4. Such growth, indeed the existence of the very digital media industry itself, would not be possible without the underlying Infocomm technologies that enable it. Some of these stuff, such as network technologies, compression algorithms and DRM systems, may not sound exciting. But they enable the music downloads, video-on-demand, and online games that we are all familiar with today - and which some of us can't imagine life without!

5. Singapore recognises DME to be an exciting industry with tremendous growth potential. That is why our Government had identified "Interactive and Digital Media" as one of 3 national priority areas for R&D in the next 5 years.

6. The IDA has been supporting the development of the DME sector for several years. Under our Digital Exchange initiatives, DX revenues tripled from S$150 mil in 2002, to S$500 mil last year.

7. In our new Infocomm masterplan, iN2015, launched in June this year, DME continues to be one of our key focus areas. Among some of the programmes are initiatives to help provide DME companies the technologies and platforms they need to innovate, and create content and services in Singapore. We also want to help create the right infrastructure and connectivity for DME companies to process, manage and deliver digital content and services from Singapore, to the rest of the world.

8. Just as Singapore is today an important global node in the physical world, our vision is for Singapore to similarly become a key Digital Hub in the Digital Age.

Developing Infocomm Manpower for Singapore

9. To get there, talent is key. For any industry to grow, it needs talent and the right manpower. The DME sector is no different. If anything, the competency requirements may be greater. We need people who are not just technologically-savvy but also with a creative and artistic flair.

10. This dual-emphasis is something we will increasingly see across the rest of the infocomm industry.

11. In the formulation of our latest Infocomm masterplan, iN2015, we sought extensive feedback and inputs from the industry - both IT companies as well as user companies - on Infocomm manpower needs in the future. The message that came back was clear. Singapore will need technologists with deep competencies, who are able to create Intellectual Property (IP) through Research and Development. Singapore will also need what we call "techno-strategists", who are able to exploit the IP created to build Infocomm solutions and services.

12. The first step towards developing these technologists and techno-strategists is to have curricula in our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) that are aligned and relevant to the future needs of the economy.

13. I understand it is a common debate within academic circles whether university-level curriculum should be focused on pursuit of academic knowledge, or on preparing graduates for industry needs. Taken to one extreme, the programme may become no more than a vocational course; while at the other extreme, graduates may find themselves unemployable.

14. I believe it is not a binary choice. Both aspects are important. In particular, for a fast-moving and constantly evolving industry such as Infocomm, it is important for IHLs to actively seek and incorporate industry inputs.

15. The concurrent programme to be offered jointly by NUS and Carnegie Mellon for the DME industry is an excellent example of such a curriculum.

16. The undergraduate education at NUS School of Computing provides an excellent foundation, while the graduate-level course at ETC will offer both theoretical and practical exposure to applications of Infocomm technologies in the DME industry. During the course at ETC, students also have lots of opportunities to work along side leading DME researchers and companies.

17. The IDA is pleased to support this collaboration through the offer of National Infocomm Scholarships to talented individuals who are keen to be part of this exciting and high-growth DME sector. IDA will set aside up to 50 scholarships for this programme, over 5 years starting from 2007.

18. We also look forward to continued support from the NUS, and from partners like Carnegie Mellon, to help grow the infocomm industry and in particular the DME sector in Singapore. I hope that one day, world-leading institutions in the DME space, like Carnegie Mellon, may even consider establishing a physical presence in Singapore.

19. Thank you.


1 Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2005-2009, PricewaterhouseCooper LLP, Wilkofsky Gruen Associates in PricewaterhouseCooper LLP (PwC), June 2005