Published on 06 Feb 2023

S’pore infocomm media start-ups venture overseas with IMDA’s aid

Singapore's infocomm media start-ups are getting a head start in overseas expansion with the help of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

One beneficiary is BeLive, which managed to make business connections and form partnerships with other companies through IMDA's accreditation programme that establishes credentials for promising infocomm media companies.

This boosts their credibility to potential clients like government entities and large enterprises.

BeLive, which was launched in 2014, now has more than 30 clients, such as local broadcaster Mediacorp and Japanese tech conglomerate and e-commerce provider Rakuten.

BeLive helps companies set up interactive videos on their websites to promote and sell their products.

As potential customers watch the videos, BeLive collects data through its video player, which pinpoints when customers decide to buy products or when they lose interest and click away.

While consumers and retailers in Singapore depend heavily on third-party platforms such as Lazada and Shopee for purchases and sales, businesses in other countries like the United States prefer to sell their products on their own websites.

BeLive thus saw the opportunity to expand overseas.

"Setting up a video player that can support multiple users at once requires a lot of investment in research and development... Cost is an issue. E-commerce businesses would rather focus on acquiring users or gaining more products," said Mr Kenneth Tan, 38, its chief executive.

Another Singaporean infocomm media start-up that ventured overseas is data collection and annotation company Tictag.

Realising that getting good and labelled datasets was tedious and expensive, its co-founder Kevin Quah, 33, wanted to create software that could let anyone label datasets.

When FairPrice needed to label features of products in images, it engaged Tictag.

Tictag, which was launched in Singapore in 2020, crowdsources the labelling of datasets through a mobile application.

Taggers get rewarded in cash, with the payment depending on the complexity of the data.

Artificial intelligence (AI) companies are also interested to buy access to these datasets for training their AI models.

"We decided to make a crowdsourced application as we wanted taggers with all kinds of expertise. For example, we would need medical professionals for datasets involving medical terms or knowledge," said Mr Quah. Tictag's co-founder Kevin Quah. The company operates in Singapore and South Korea, and has 25 employees in total.

Tictag expanded to South Korea in 2020 through a start-up acceleration programme offered by the Korean government.

The company also made connections with South Korean start-ups and investors through IMDA.

"Korea is a very developed market for AI, and we wanted to learn as much as possible about AI in the Korean market and bring our expertise back to Singapore. Data annotation isn't new overseas but it's fairly new in Singapore," said Mr Quah.

Tictag, which operates in Singapore and South Korea, has 25 employees in total and more than 5,000 taggers.

Verifiable technology solutions provider Accredify has also tapped IMDA's help.

Founded in 2019, it co-developed Singapore's national Covid-19 test standard HealthCerts, which helps to verify that results issued by clinics here have not been tampered with.

"We found that shared digital information could create opportunities for misinformation. We wanted to create verifiable technology to restore trust in digital interactions," said Accredify chief executive Quah Zheng Wei, 31. Accredify, which already has a presence in Sydney, is currently exploring establishing an office in Japan, said CEO Quah Zheng Wei.

The start-up established an office in Sydney in 2022 with IMDA helping with market research and briefings on the business climate there.

"Clients in Australia are more willing to buy software services that integrate with their existing systems rather than building their own software from scratch," he added.

"We're currently working with government agencies across Singapore and Japan to explore the establishment of a physical office in Japan as part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's project to attract foreign start-up companies to Tokyo," he said.

Accredify currently has 42 employees and plans to expand to 60 by end-2023.

The IMDA is working on growing Singapore's local tech ecosystem and supporting their expansion abroad, with efforts being made to link up with foreign ecosystem partners, said assistant chief executive officer Justin Ang.

"IMDA hopes to both build Singapore as a leading tech ecosystem as well as attract and inspire young talented technopreneurs," he added.

Source: The Straits Times

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