Published Date: 12 June 2019

Speech by Mr Peter Ong, Chairman, Enterprise Singapore and Board Member, Monetary Authority of Singapore at the SFF x SWITCH 2019 Global Launch Party on 12 June 2019

Distinguished guests,
Friends and colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.


I want to welcome all of you to this evening’s SFF x SWITCH 2019 Global Launch event.

When we were deciding on where to hold this launch event, we wanted a venue that can represent the spirit of innovation that we want Singapore to be. We decided on Changi Airport and Jewel, and in particular Cloud9 Piazza, where we are standing right now.

I suspect for many of you today, it could be the first time you are at Jewel Changi Airport’s beautiful Cloud9 Piazza.

Changi Airport has been an early innovator in the aviation industry. In the early days of commercial air travel, most people around the world would regard an airport to be a runway, a control tower, together with a passenger terminal building. But Changi Airport viewed things differently. It wanted the entire process of check-in, security check, boarding and disembarkation to go beyond a purely transportation experience.

Its legendary shopping offerings made it more a shopping mall with a runway attached. Changi Airport mitigated a lot of the tediousness and hassle of air travel, with its usual inconveniences of flight delays, security checks and aircraft food, by giving a superior shopping and transit experience. Changi Airport became a destination in its own right for locals too, and many of us who grew up in Singapore will remember coming to Changi Airport to study, pak-tor (dating), dine and basically to chill out. We did not come here just to board or disembark from a plane, or even to send someone off.

Changi innovated with their products and offerings, and also their basic business model. Such an experience and product positioning is still not common in many airports around the world. 

With the opening of Jewel, the level of innovation has been taken to new heights.

There is a deeper significance beyond the aesthetics of the venue that you and I see. Jewel Changi Airport’s architectural innovations are hidden everywhere.

For example, the glass used for Jewel’s façade has dual ability to transmit light and reduces heat gain.

Now this allows the indoor plants to grow while providing sustainable cooling.

The Waterfall behind you is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, designed to shower water down to the center of the building. Rainwater is funneled into the waterfall and harvested for landscape irrigation systems.

I hope Jewel and Changi Airport will be a microcosm of Singapore as a place where innovation thrives.

Innovation & Enterprise in Singapore

We also aspire for the startup ecosystem in Singapore to be constantly innovating. The ecosystem is growing in Singapore, extending its reach to the region.

Let me give you a snapshot of Singapore’s startup ecosystem:

There are 40,000 startups in Singapore. Of which, 4,000 tech startups, employing 22,000 people. There are about 100 incubators, accelerators and venture builders. 150 VC investors with regional presence in Singapore.

This growth is in part, due to Enterprise Singapore, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the National Research Foundation (NRF)’s efforts in nurturing and promoting deep tech ecosystems, FinTech startups and also the broader research, innovation & enterprise landscape.

  • Enterprise Singapore, creating a vibrant and self-sustaining global startup hub.
  • MAS, growing Singapore as the enterprise financing hub for growth companies in Singapore.
  • NRF, enabling the creation of value from science and technology – from the capabilities built in Singapore’s research base, through to innovation and commercialisation by our enterprises.

This year, we are going to innovate. Enterprise Singapore, MAS and the NRF are innovating to grow and promote the innovation ecosystems further. We are bringing two events, SFF and SWITCH, which they have been organising separately for the past few years, together. SFF and SWITCH will come together as one event this year, from 11-15 November.

SFF x SWITCH 2019 will bring together a stronger and more comprehensive group of innovators, financiers, entrepreneurs and institutions across FinTech and deep tech spaces.

ESG and MAS are also collaborating on another innovation, called Deal Fridays. The first Deal Fridays session will be held on 21 June, less than two weeks from now. There will be a session every Friday all the way to the lead-up to SFF x SWITCH in November this year.

Deal Fridays is a series of highly-curated investor-startup matchmaking sessions that will take place every Friday.

ASEAN startups across multiple sectors will be profiled and connected with potential investors.

Deal Fridays will be organised around sectoral themes including:

  • Banking Technology
  • FinTech
  • Mobility & Transport
  • Advanced Manufacturing, just to name a few.


I believe there will be more opportunities for startups from ASEAN to be matched to investors.

Connecting financial communities with innovation ecosystems will enable today’s emerging technologies to flourish and solve the problems of tomorrow. I look forward to SFF x SWITCH 2019 being a valuable platform for both global and Asian participants to form new partnerships and collaborations.

May I wish all of you a wonderful evening ahead. Thank you.