An insight into The Economic Development Board's incentive and development schemes

By ANIMATION XPRES... | 17 August, 2009 - 00:00

The Economic Development Board of Singapore also known as the EDB has played a significant role in accelerating Interactive and Digital Media developments in Singapore.

In the following article, the EDB shares an insight into its incentive and develpment schemes. It also shares some of the success stories of Singapore's IDM cluster.

The EDB has outlined 3 key strategies to accelerate Interactive and Digital Media developments:

I) Attract top-tier Interactive and Digital Media companies and foster enterprise creation across the various sub-sectors. These companies will undertake a full value chain of activities in Singapore. Fostering enterprise development will help nurture Singapore’s home-grown Interactive and Digital Media brands.

2) Build a world class talent base and position Singapore as a leading Interactive and Digital Media education centre in Asia. The EDB will achieve this by attracting international specialty schools as well as ensuring relevance of local schools’ curriculum. In the arena of specialty schools, the presence of Tisch School of the Arts and Digipen Institute of Technology in Singapore are some of the first fruits from this effort. The EDB also recognizes that there is a need to attract top international talent to live and work in Singapore, thereby ensuring that there is relevant talent to fuel the growth of our Interactive and Digital Media industry. Opportunities for overseas attachment training are available at leading international organizations for talented Singaporeans. For instance, EDB collaborated with Double Negative – A London-based visual effects house which has worked on films like Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - to send Singaporeans for a 12-month overseas attachment.

3) Attract and invest in leading technology R&D activities to maintain Singapore’s position at the cutting edge of Interactive and Digital Media technology. EDB recognizes that technology plays a critical and integral part in the development of the IDM industry. The IDM Programme Office was established in 2006, with the mission of spearheading efforts to boost R&D in the IDM industry. A S$500 million budget has been earmarked for this purpose over the next five years. This will help ensure that Singapore remains an influential trend-setter for the sector.

Successes in Interactive and Digital Media

Electronic Arts, the world’s largest developer and publisher of interactive entertainment, established its Asian Regional Headquarters (RHQ) and online game development studio in Singapore in 2007. The studio localizes and customises popular EA games for the Asian markets, distributing them in at least eight different languages. Ubisoft, one of the world’s leading video games publishers, has opened a full-fledged development studio in Singapore, with plans of becoming 300- strong. Koei, a leading game developer from Japan, set up its first overseas studio in Singapore in 2004. Koei was also one of the first international game companies to establish itself here. The company has announced plans to expand the Singapore studio from the present strength of about 50 by another 30-60 staff within the next two years.

Rainbow S.p.A, Italy’s foremost animation studio and the creator of the highly successful Winx Club franchise, established its new video games global headquarters and development studio in Singapore in 2008. Its inaugural Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) project will be a virtual world for Winx Club.

Softworld, Taiwan’s number one online game development studio, has a 30-man team developing Xbox360/PC/Online games for Southeast Asia. Germany’s DTP Publishing set up its online game development studio and Asian publishing hub, Real U, here in 2007. The 80-man studio is currently developing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) based on Tad William’s Otherland series of fantasy novels.

Lucasfilm set up its first facility outside the US in Singapore – Lucasfilm Animation Singapore. The 300-man studio does animation and game development as well as visual effects for Hollywood films. The Southern Star Group, Australia’s largest independent television production and distribution company, has a 45-man animation studio in Singapore. Leading Korean animation studio Sunwoo Entertainment established its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore to manage global distribution and intellectual property, develop content and produce animation.

EON Reality, the world’s leading 3D visual content management and Virtual Reality software provider, set up its Asia-Pacific Headquarters and R&D centre in Singapore. It will be developing its next-generation innovative software solutions that allow online user collaboration, user generated content and interactive 3D streaming.

Made-in-Singapore Products
The EDB is making steady strides to promote Singapore as the preferred location for companies to create content for global consumption.

Recent developments include:

Local games developer Mikoishi spent a year and US$1 million to develop the game Dropcast - the very first madein-Singapore video game for the popular Nintendo DS handheld which was launched worldwide at the end of 2008.

Leading Japanese game company Koei successfully developed an MMORPG titled Romance of the Three Kingdoms Online (ROTK Online) through its Singapore studio. ROTK Online was successfully launched in Japan in February 2008, and plans for launch in China, Korea, and Taiwan.

Singapore-based Redeye Studio is developing an RPG game, Dark Sovereign, inspired by and loosely based on Singapore’s and Asia’s cultural and urban landscape.

Singapore-based Ksatria has assembled a multinational team of experts to develop an Xbox/PC RPG game, Lone Wolf, based on the popular adventure book series. Anark, a US games middleware company, developed a game userinterface middleware called Gameface in Singapore. Gameface is currently being employed for development of top games on the latest next generation console game platforms. Due largely to the success of Gameface, Anark’s Entertainment Division, which was responsible for Gameface, has since been acquired by Nvidia.

Lucasfilm Animation Singapore conceptualized, designed and developed The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance game for the Nintendo DS handheld platform. The studio also produced the 3D animated series StarWars: The Clone Wars, which was the highest–rated premiere in the history of Cartoon Network. Children’s animation series, Bottle Top Bill, which was 100% produced in Singapore by Southern Star, has won a territorial prize at Digicon.

Tao Shu, a children’s animated series created and produced by Singapore based Peach Blossom Media, was listed as one of the “Greatest Products of 2007” in the US-based iParenting Awards. Peach Blossom Media is also producing the animation for LaMB, Animax’s groundbreaking project that is spread across three screens – TV, online and mobile. Singapore-based Scrawl Studios coproduced the animated pre-school series, Milly Molly, which was shortlisted in The Japan Prize 2008 for Best Programme in both the Audiovisual Division and TV Series categories.

Scrawl Studio’s original 2D animated series, The New Adventures of Nanoboy, has also been purchased by both UK and US broadcasters. Singapore-based Sparky Animation was responsible for the full spectrum of animation studio work for Big River Rescue – part of the hugely popular Veggie Tales series in High Definition.

DigiPen Institute of Technology opened its first independent campus outside the US in Singapore in 2008. DigiPen Singapore offers degree programs in Real-time Interactive Simulation and Production Animation, and will take in more than 500 students over five years. Tisch School of the Arts from the prestigious New York University opened its first satellite campus in Singapore, providing MFAs in Film Production, Digital Arts & Animation, and Dramatic Writing. Hollywood concept designer Feng Zhu has announced plans to launch the FZD School of Entertainment Design in Singapore to train students for the gaming, film and animation industries, offering a diploma in entertainment design. 3dSense Media School, CG Protégé and Egg Story Digital Arts specialize in enhancing the skills of existing industry professionals, providing further certifications in animation and games development that make their students highly sought after by the industry.

SIGGRAPH, the world’s leading computer graphics and animation conference-cum-exhibition, held SIGGRAPH Asia, its inaugural Asian event in Singapore in December 2008.

Games Convention, one of the world’s largest digital games exhibition, has chosen Singapore as the location to host Games Convention Asia (GCA), the Asian edition of its event. Into its second year, GCA 2008 drew more than 92,000 attendees. CG Overdrive is one of Asia's largest computer graphics events for CG professionals. This conference-cum networking event attracts the leading animation, visual effects houses and game studios globally.

Singapore hosted 3DX: 3D Film and Entertainment Technology Festival in November 2008. This was the first event of its kind, focused on 3D content production, development and technology. Hollywood luminaries Jeffrey Katzenberg, James Cameron and Brandon Fraser were among the prestigious guests who attended this event.

The Asia Television Forum (ATF) is a programming market held in Singapore annually where international and Asian media companies buy, sell and network. Notably, a record US$47 million worth of deals were concluded during ATF in 2007. Animation studios here use it as platform to exhibit and market their creations to an international audience.

Well-positioned for Future Growth The success Singapore has enjoyed in securing a slate of IDM projects and playing host to some of the most exciting industry events in the region provides good momentum in Singapore’s drive to become an Interactive and Digital Media Capital.

Leveraging the momentum of these successes, the EDB continues to promote the IDM cluster as a strategic growth engine of Singapore’s economy through our commitments to develop talent and infrastructure, promote innovation and create a conducive environment where Singapore creations are made for global consumption.