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Red Hat Unveils Open Source Collaborative Innovation Initiative in Singapore

8 April 2008 - Speech By Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister For Community Development, Youth And Sports, At The Launch Of The Red Hat “Open Source Collaborative Innovation Initiative” (OSCI) In Asean, At The Asian Civilisations Museum, Ngee Ann Auditorium

Speech By Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister For Community Development, Youth And Sports, At The Launch Of The Red Hat “Open Source Collaborative Innovation Initiative” (OSCI) In Asean, On 8 April 2008 (Tuesday), 11.15 Am, At The Asian Civilisations Museum, Ngee Ann Auditorium

Mr Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO of Red Hat,
Mr Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive of IDA,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Thank you for the privilege of being here at Red Hat’s Open Source Collaborative Innovation Initiative or OSCI this morning.

Building a Dynamic Open Source Infocomm Industry

2. Red Hat is not a stranger to Singapore. The OSCI is actually the second initiative that Red Hat has embarked on in Singapore. The first was the partnership with Oracle to scale up the Linux community through the Linux Enterprise Applications Porting (LEAP) Centre. The centre aimed to place open-source software on the monitor screens of as many Singapore-based companies as possible. And indeed, even as we witness the increasing adoption of open-source solutions, I think you can take some credit from that first initiative.

3. As Mr Whitehurst had pointed out earlier, there is still so much more untapped potential in open source software. And Red Hat, fortunately for us, has lined up an exciting series of programmes under its OSCI. This will help, I believe, bring about more vibrant eco-systems, through collaborations and partnerships. I am glad that within Singapore, three educational institutions in the academic community - Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education - have come on board with Red Hat on this initiative. And of course from within ASEAN, we also got two other institutions - the Asia Pacific College from Manila and Bangkok University. And I am sure this bandwagon will grow.

Partnership and Collaboration for Industry Growth and Capability Development

Industry Growth: iLIUP
4. I hope that this will help position Singapore as part of your strategy in making sure open source software is both available and developed within ASEAN, Southeast Asia and Asia, and part of your global strategy as well. As far as IDA is concerned, we have also worked with the local industry. Because the whole key is that you can develop tools and software but if nobody uses it, nobody pays you money for it, then it doesn’t really work. So IDA has programmes and one example is the Infocomm Local Industry Upgrading Programme or iLIUP, in which we seek to match-make multi-national companies (MNCs) with local companies. We hope that in these match-made partnerships, they can capitalise on each party’s strengths, the MNCs’ global networks, the local companies’ local knowledge and access to the market, and in this way, achieve a greater market share and increased revenue for both the foreign partners as well as the local companies.

5. And Red Hat has participated in this programme. I think you will see increasing fruits of these partnerships between the local companies, MNCs and companies like Red Hat, who in your evangelical zeal, will also, I believe, lead to better products and services for these companies.

Capability Development
6. But at the end of the day, you can talk about innovation, but it really depends on human talent and human brains. And that is why within Singapore, IDA has launched a series of scholarships and training programmes to make sure our human brains in Singapore are equipped with the right tools, skills and knowledge to embark on this innovation agenda. And I am glad that Red Hat also shares this belief in unlocking the potential of the human brain, in providing programmes, certification and other initiatives which will allow people to get the relevant tools and skills that
they need to embark on innovation.

7. We have also launched in Singapore the National Infocomm Competency Framework (NICF). This is a framework that will allow professionals already in the industry to map their skills sets and core competencies against the IT market, because we know the IT market is evolving so rapidly. Everything which you know today is probably going to be obsolete very, very soon. So we need to have a framework so that people will know where their shortfalls and gaps are, and more importantly, point the way to where courses and opportunities will lie for them to upscale themselves and to also embark on further opportunities to upgrade their jobs and prospects.


8. As we look forward to the future, it is likely that the next generation of software would be developed on an open collaborative model. Many enterprises are building their applications on such platforms. We must attract the best and brightest talent, groom and equip them with knowledge of new technologies, the skills and the capability to drive further innovation in this fast evolving industry.

9. We know that in recent times, there has been much digital bloodshed between two groups - open standard and proprietary software. The world is not going to evolve according to the scriptures of both groups. There is much interaction between both which can be tense, but there is a special role for open source software. We can see the key trend in which the Internet is evolving, with the price of access and replication falling to zero. It will reach a stage where everyone is connected, always on. The Internet enables us to be passive consumers, but also co-creators of new content now. It is a fundamental seismic change, with the capacity for millions to be co-creators. The open source software model is just one of these trends.

10. We need the unleashing of human ingenuity and innovation to create direct, useful applications, with the ideological power to change the world. The challenge for companies is how to make money. For the government, we need to support this move because it opens up new avenues for the fertile minds of our young people and students. We need the tools to attract the brightest minds, who will see the opportunity to create something as part of their contributions to change the world.

11. In closing, I would like to give you the assurance that there is value in the open software model. You need to demonstrate the value of this model and we need to open up the minds of our people for the Singapore of the future.

12. Thank you.