Singapore to launch data science consortium and AI initiative to enhance digital economy

Yon Heong Tung
Singapore

The two programmes were unveiled by the Minister For Communications And Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim at the opening ceremony of Innovfest Unbound 2017

Today, at the opening ceremony of Innovfest Unbound 2017 — the anchor event of Singapore’s week long Smart Nations Innovation festival — Minister For Communications And Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim unveiled two new initiatives that will ramp up the nation’s digital economy.

The first is AI.SG. This programme, to be launched by the National Research Fund (NRF), will see various government agencies leverage on AI to tackle key challenges facing Singapore’s society.

For example, in the transport sector, AI could help manage heavy traffic during peak hours. The healthcare industry can also use AI to devise solutions that will help doctors and nurses perform more effectively.

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“In the area of healthcare, we will soon be able to benefit from various trial applications of AI by IHiS (Integrated Health Information System) and their partners,” said Dr Ibrahim.

“In about three years’ time, doctors and nurses could find themselves immersed in simulated emergency situations, and interact with virtual patients in realistic augmented reality-based environments to enhance their training for better patient care,” he added.

In addition, an R&D support programme called the NRF Fellowship and Investigatorship schemes will encourage scientists and researchers to pursue deep tech AI research such as cognitive science or computing architectures in Singapore.

AI.SG will also work with companies to develop and commercialise up to 100 AI projects and proof of concepts. The NRF will invest up to S$150 million (US$107 million) in AI.SG over the next five years.

And beyond that, AI.SG aims to foster the growth of a vibrant AI talent community through collaborations with hackathons and other networking events.

Singapore Data Science Consortium

The second initiative is called the Singapore Data Science Consortium. NRF will collaborate with three local universities, NUS, SMU and NTU, as well as research institute A*STAR to set up this new consortium.

By tapping on academia, the consortium aims to boost the local pool of data science experts. These talents will then be able to develop advanced data science and analytics solutions that will address real-world needs.

The consortium will work in partnership with the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to engage companies in six economic sectors, namely: finance; healthcare; customer and retail; manufacturing; logistics; and transport.

According to an official press release, Singapore is already home to more than 50 per cent of Southeast Asia’s data centres. This makes it an ideal hub to develop the next generation of data science and analytics tech.

Other initiatives

Besides these two new initiatives, Dr Ibrahim also announced that IMDA will form partnerships with three major banks, DBS, OCBC and UOB, to develop new fintech solutions.

Startups under the Accreditation@IMDA programme — a programme that supports and invests in early-stage growth startups and positions them to work with government and large enterprise projects — will be able to work with these banks to ramp up their fintech innovations.

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Additionally, by leveraging on these banks’ international market presence, the startups will be able to accelerate their growth beyond Singapore.

Dr Ibrahim also brought up the progress of ‘SME Go Digital Programme’ — an initiative designed to grow SME’s digital capabilities. He said that since its launch, the programme has nearly 50 pre-approved digital tech solutions that SME’s can tap into.

An example is a 3D IoT platform for Smart Buildings solution by Asahi Security Technologies. This security solution helps building and business operators to better manage and control situations, and improves decision making through 3D visualisation in the command centre.

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