A*STAR Programme To Help Local SMEs Pursue Productivity Growth Through Technology

On 12th November 2013, A*STAR officially launched the Technology Adoption Programme (TAP), its latest initiative to provide SMEs with greater accessibility to practical and affordable technology solutions to boost productivity

Technology Adoption Programme extends into retail outreach with MoU signings; survey on technology adoption amongst local retailers reveals room for wider use of integrated technological capabilities

On 12th November 2013, A*STAR officially launched the Technology Adoption Programme (TAP), its latest initiative to provide SMEs with greater accessibility to practical and affordable technology solutions to boost productivity. Announced during Budget 2013, TAP aims to achieve at least 1,150 technology adoptions by companies over three years to increase their productivity levels by an average of about 20 per cent. Under the programme, experienced technology intermediaries “match make” local companies with technology implementers from both the public and private sector to meet their needs.

Since July 2013, there have been 110 technology adoptions, with many more in the pipeline. TAP complements A*STAR’s existing SME outreach platforms, including its flagship SME initiative, Growing Enterprises through Technology Upgrade (GET-Up), which has benefited more than 500 companies over the last 10 years. In recent years, A*STAR has also seen an increased uptake from SMEs in the licensing of its technologies, with the number of licenses tripling from 24 in 2008 to close to 80 in 2012.[1] Internationally, A*STAR’s patent power scorecard is ranked second among international government agencies, ahead of NASA.[2]

Highlights of Retail Initiatives and Survey

As part of TAP’s outreach to the retail community, one of its pilot sectors, A*STAR today signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU). The first MoU was signed between the Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R) and Paragon Shopping Mall to promote R&D collaborations in the further development of technologies to increase productivity in the retail sector. Examples of I²R’s technologies for the retail sector can be found in Annex A.

The second MoU was signed between A*STAR’s Science and Engineering Institutes and the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (SIRS) for the greater outreach and creation of a technology showcase to help retail professionals. In conjunction with this MoU, a survey was conducted to understand technology adoption habits amongst local retailers. The survey revealed that 90 per cent agreed that technology would help business productivity, but only 59 per cent expected to increase spending in technology over the next 12 months.

The survey also showed that 87 per cent of retail companies were already using technology; however a majority of technology adopted was the Point-of-Sale systems, indicating that opportunities abound for companies to adopt integrated technologies for greater productivity. For more details, refer to the survey results in Annex B.

Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR, said, “TAP seeks to make available technologies that have been developed in both the public and private sectors to where it can make the most impact in terms of productivity. In particular, it is a key platform to bring A*STAR’s ready-to-go technologies to the SMEs. We do this through intermediaries with significant industry experience who will engage the SMEs to better appreciate their needs before proposing the appropriate technologies to be adopted. This is critical for our SMEs to remain relevant and competitive and contribute to transforming our economy.”

Minister S. Iswaran, Minister In Prime Minister's Office, and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry was the Guest of Honour at the launch of TAP, which was attended by close to 500 representatives from Singapore’s SME community.



Annex A – List of Technology Solutions for Retailers
Annex B – Survey on Technology Adoption for Retailers (Refer to attached PDF)


Lee Jian Hui
Senior Officer, Corporate Communications, SCEI
Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Tel: +65 9022 8235
Email: [email protected]

Lisa Chong
Assistant Manager, Corporate Communications, SCEI
Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Tel: +65 9797 5730
Email: [email protected]

About the Technology Adoption Programme

The Technology Adoption Programme (TAP) aims to improve the accessibility of technology enhancement for local companies, especially SMEs. This initiative is currently piloted in six sectors: Marine, Aerospace, Precision Engineering, Construction, Food Manufacturing and Retail. The A*STAR TAP team will engage companies to understand their challenges and needs, working with them to identify technologies that can improve their productivity.

TAP collaborates with technology providers such as A*STAR Research Institutes, Institutes of Higher Learning and Private System Integrators, to transfer technology solutions which improve productivity via readily adoptable packages to address the needs of local businesses.

For technical solutions that are not yet available, TAP will fund and work with A*STAR Research Institutes, Universities, Polytechnics and other public institutes to translate novel technological platforms to a deployment-ready stage for companies to adopt. For more information, visit: www.a-star.edu.sg/TAP.

About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that fosters world-class scientific research and talent to drive economic growth and transform Singapore into a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation driven economy.

In line with its mission-oriented mandate, A*STAR spearheads research and development in fields that are essential to growing Singapore’s manufacturing sector and catalysing new growth industries. A*STAR supports these economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry.

A*STAR oversees 20 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis as well as their vicinity. These two R&D hubs house a bustling and diverse community of local and international research scientists and engineers from A*STAR’s research entities as well as a growing number of corporate laboratories.

Please visit www.a-star.edu.sg


List of Technology Solutions for Retailers (I²R, A*STAR)

1. Snap2Tell Alive

Snap2Tell Alive is an intelligent platform for rapid and easy creation of mobile apps for multimedia information access via mobile devices. By using the Snap2Tell Alive mobile app to take a picture of an object of interest or pointing a camera at it, information will be activated via Snap2Tell image recognition technology. A web based portal is provided for users to create their own mobile apps in a few minutes without programming and knowledge in image recognition. This technology provides an easy, quick and intuitive way to obtain multimedia information. Many applications such as mobile interactive advertising, knowledge and information retrieval are enabled with this platform. It is purposefully designed for low cost adoption and ease of use, so that SMEs can benefit from improved productivity through more effective and efficient means of marketing and showcasing of their products and services.

2. Video-based Customer Profiling

The I2R video-based customer profiling system is able to understand the profile of visitors and their sentiments when they are at events or conventions by analyzing their facial expressions through the cameras installed around the venue.

3. Crowd Video Analytics

Surveillance videos contain untapped information that is useful. However, surveillance by human operators is costly and there is too much data to be processed. I2R’s Crowd Video Analytics solution is a visualization tool that enables automatic detection of events of incidents. It can be used for real-time human crowd detection, cross-camera tracking, event detection and semantic mining system for information discoveries.

4. Interactive Clothing Display

Trying out clothes can be a fun but tiring experience. How about doing a virtual try-on? I2R’s Interactive Clothing Display technology is an interactive and refreshing way for shoppers to ‘try’ the latest outfits in front of an augmented reality-based mirror.