Above photo: MOU being signed between International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, Millet World Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone (CDHT), Sino-Singapore (Chengdu) Innovation Park Development (SSCIP) and Mr. Aravind Vasu, CEO Metaverse Systems (a joint-ventured company of Millet World) signing a MOU with Sino-Singapore (Chengdu) Innovation Park Development (SSCIP)/ Credit: Millet World (from Millet World's Facebook page)
International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) announced several initiatives today to help Singapore companies in technology, innovation and services capture opportunities in China’s Sichuan province.
Sichuan is pushing for innovation reform through the Sichuan Free Trade Zone (FTZ), launched in April 2017 and Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park (SSCIP). In 2016, Sichuan’s GDP grew 7.7% to reach S$660 billion, above the national GDP growth of 6.7%. The Sichuan government is promoting innovation by focusing on building new test-bedding platforms, strengthening collaborations between industries and institutes of higher learning, and encouraging technology developments in electronics, automotive and new energy. Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, is also among the top 10 most start-up friendly cities in China.
In 2016, Singapore-Sichuan bilateral trade reached around S$1.1 billion. From January to September 2017, bilateral trade increased 27% to reach S$918.4 million. In 2016, Singapore was the top foreign investor country in Sichuan. Last year, Singapore’s actual investment in Sichuan reached around S$530.4 million, bringing total cumulative actual investments to around S$8.1 billion with 562 projects, the largest among provinces in West China.
Seven Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed today with Sichuan counterparts at the 18th Singapore-Sichuan Trade and Investment Committee (SSTIC ) meeting, co-chaired by Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport, Mr. Ng Chee Meng, and Sichuan Vice-Governor Mr. Zhu Hexin in Singapore. Organised by IE Singapore, the Singapore secretariat for the Council, over 120 government and business representatives from Singapore and Sichuan attended the meeting. Sichuan Vice-Governor Zhu is currently in Singapore on a business mission with 32 officials and businessmen from the region.
These MOUs include one between IE Singapore and the Sichuan Provincial Department of Commerce, forming direct access to the government to help Singapore companies access opportunities in the FTZ. IE Singapore and Sichuan officials will also form a workgroup to facilitate partnerships. This is the first FTZ in China where IE Singapore has developed both provincial-level and city-level networks to ease the entry of Singapore companies into the province.
Another key project in the FTZ is SSCIP, led by Sembcorp Development. To date, it has secured 29 projects, with total investments of about S$5.2 billion. To drive more partnerships in technology and innovation, IE Singapore signed a MOU with SSCIP, Chengdu Hi-tech Zone and Millet World  to develop the SSCIP-Singapore Innovation Centre to encourage collaboration between Singapore and Chinese companies, including leveraging Sichuan as a testbed for new innovations for China and the rest of the world.
The press release lists the SMEs currently entering the province.
One of the SMEs, Metaverse Systems will gain access to China’s edutainment market through an MOU with SSCIP to establish Future@Work, a first-of-its-kind integrated technology showcase centre and children theme park. Future@Work will combine virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics and futuristic imagination, and is targeted at children aged 3 to 15 years old.
Gashub, a gas piping and engineering services specialist in Singapore, signed a MOU with Chengdu Huaqi Houpu Holding to collaborate on technology and knowledge transfer. Chengdu Huaqi Houpu is China’s leading provider of integrated clean energy solutions, and will partner Gashub to acquire new technologies and export to other markets.
Parkway Pantai, one of Asia’s largest integrated private healthcare groups, and SSCIP signed an MOU to explore developing a high-end women and children’s hospital in SSCIP.
Dreamkids Holdings signed a MOU with Sichuan Guan He Tai Education Technology to build a preschool in Sichuan, offering premium education services for children aged 6 months to 6 years old. This is the first Singapore company to customise learning programmes in Sichuan using 3D brainwaves. Dreamkids Holdings is described as an unconventional, happy bilingual preschool with a strong emphasis on building the human spirit and values, as well as equipping the essential 21st century skills in children.
In conjunction with the 18th SSTIC meeting, IE Singapore and the Chengdu government also organised a Sichuan (Chengdu) FTZ seminar to help Singapore companies understand the opportunities brought by the Sichuan FTZ, as well as the SSCIP, which is located within the FTZ.
Minister Ng said, “Singapore continues to be the top foreign investor country in Sichuan. We hope to deepen our collaboration with Sichuan in technology, innovation and services through the Sichuan Free Trade Zone and Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park (SSCIP). One such initiative is the SSCIP-Singapore Innovation Centre, which will serve as a platform to demonstrate new technologies and innovations for in-market adoption. The new policies in the Sichuan Free Trade Zone also create opportunities for our companies in healthcare, education and financial services.”
In other recent developments, Startup HQ, which opened their incubation centre in Chengdu last year, has brought in 40 technology start-ups to date. IE Singapore also led eight Singapore companies to the fifth China (Mianyang) Hi-Tech Expo in September 2017, the largest technology trade show in West China.
IE Singapore is involved in several initiatives to help local companies gain access to Chinese markets, as well as technology. In August 21 2017, IE Singapore and Ascendas-Singbridge launched the Singapore Manufacturing Innovation Centre (SMIC) in Guangzhou, a one-stop shop to facilitate partnerships between Singapore Industry 4.0 technology solutions providers and Chinese enterprises looking to adopt such solutions. In October, IE Singapore signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Chinese tech partners to help more Singapore companies gain access to the market and its innovation ecosystem. On November 2, 2017, IE Singapore announced the successful facilitation of a partnership between Surbana Jurong (SJ) and two SMEs, iFocus Pte. Ltd. (a hardware company) and S3 Innovate Pte. Ltd. (a data visualisation company) to clinch their first lift monitoring project in Guangzhou city.
 The Singapore-Sichuan Trade and Investment Committee (SSTIC) is a bilateral economic framework aimed at strengthening Singapore's economic relations with the Sichuan Province. It was formed in May 1996 and comprises public and private sector members from Singapore and Sichuan. Mr. Lim Swee Say, Minister, Ministry of Manpower, and Mr. Yin Li, Sichuan Governor, are Advisors to the committee while Minister Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport, and Mr. Zhu Hexin, Sichuan Vice-Governor, are CoChairmen of the SSTIC. IE Singapore is the Secretariat to the SSTIC in Singapore.
 Millet World specialises in creative place and space management and developing platforms for the promotion of geographical expansion and growth of Singapore SMEs through the Millet World Trading Post.