AI.SG: New National Programme to Catalyse, Synergise and Boost Singapore's AI Capabilities
AI.SG New National Programme To Catalyse Synergise And Boost Singapores Artificial Intelligence Capabilities
03 May 2017
The National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore will launch a national programme in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to catalyse, synergise and boost Singapore’s AI capabilities to power our future, digital economy. AI.SG will be an initiative driven by a government-wide partnership comprising NRF, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), the Economic Development Board (EDB), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), SGInnovate, and the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS). AI.SG will also bring together all Singapore-based research institutions and the vibrant ecosystem of AI start-ups and companies developing AI products, to grow the knowledge, create the tools and develop the talent to power Singapore’s AI efforts.
This initiative builds on Singapore’s vision of becoming a Smart Nation and answers the call by the Committee on the Future Economy to build stronger digital capabilities, so that Singapore and Singaporeans better seize the growth opportunities offered by the digital economy.
AI.SG has three objectives:
a) Use AI to address major challenges that affect society and industry.
For example, to increase traffic throughput during peak hour, or to address healthcare challenges that are to come with an ageing population. Mr Bruce Liang, Chief Executive Officer of IHiS and Chief Information Officer of Ministry of Health said: “Healthcare is currently both a knowledge and human-touch-intensive industry. Coupled with the progress in the digitisation of Singapore’s healthcare over the years, we see significant applicability of AI in the future for safeguarding the health of Singaporeans. AI could play a big role in supporting prevention, diagnosis, treatment plans, medication management, precision medicine and drug creation. Healthcare manpower, augmented with AI tools, could better address increased healthcare demands in the future. There is enormous potential and we look forward to collaborating with other agencies and organisations in AI.SG to enhance the delivery of health for the Singapore population.”
b) Invest in deep capabilities to catch the next wave of scientific innovation.
These may include next-generation “explainable” AI systems exhibiting more humanlike learning abilities, as well as adjacent technologies such as computing architectures (integrating software, firmware and hardware) and cognitive science. The NRF Fellowship and Investigatorship schemes1 will be deployed to support such scientific activities. Local talent in AI will also be trained though their involvement in the development of these deep capabilities in AI.
c) Broaden adoption and use of AI and machine learning within industry. AI.SG will work with companies to use AI to raise productivity, create new products, and translate and commercialise solutions from labs to the market. We aim to deliver 100 meaningful AI projects and proofs-of-concept to solve real-world problems quickly for end-users. We see particular potential in the sectors of finance, healthcare and city management solutions, and will start with these.
NRF will invest up to $150 million over five years in AI.SG. Professor Low Teck Seng, CEO, NRF said: “AI.SG builds on the current AI knowledge and capabilities that we have built up across our Singapore-based research institutions with our past R&D investments. I am confident that the modality of AI.SG will fully integrate existing R&D and facilitate the translation of R&D into solutions for business commercialisation and better provision of public services. NRF will also continue to monitor global shifts in technology and drive new opportunities in technology areas that are strategic for Singapore.”
Beyond research institutions, AI.SG will also harness the significant AI capabilities in the industry, whether within AI start-ups or corporate laboratories. AI.SG will work with these companies and even individual enthusiasts via networking events, hackathons, to use AI to tackle real-world challenges. AI.SG will nurture a local community of doers and thinkers in AI through a ‘makerspace’ environment with shared resources and facilities designed to maximise community interaction, collaboration, and encourage adoption of intellectual property generated by AI.SG. These facilities will comprise AI.SG software tools and frameworks released under appropriate open source license, anonymised datasets, and world-class AI high-performance computing resources. AI.SG will also work closely with the Singapore Data Science Consortium to synergise the use of data in deepening AI technologies and tools, and the use of AI to automate and develop deeper, actionable data science insights.
Mr Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate said: “R&D in Singapore has already gained international recognition, and there is tremendous momentum in areas around AI such as computer vision, natural language processing and machine learning. AI.SG will serve as a powerful point of concentration of intellectual, physical and financial resources committed to working with AI. At SGInnovate, we work with entrepreneurial people focused on taking their ‘deep-tech’ research further, and we look forward to a rich pool of new AI-related opportunities to pursue.”
As AI.SG will be a national partnership that pulls together Singapore’s AI capabilities, operations of AI.SG will be overseen by a Management Committee comprising field experts from all Singapore-based research institutions, key government agencies and industry partners with expertise in AI. The Management Committee will be helmed by cochairs Mr Tan Kok Yam, Deputy Secretary, Smart Nation and Digital Government (SNDG) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Professor Ho Teck Hua, who has been appointed as Executive Chairman of AI.SG, and is also the Deputy President (Research & Technology) and Tan Chin Tuan Centennial Professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Mr Tan Kok Yam, Deputy Secretary, SNDG, PMO said: “Through AI.SG, we intend to work with AI research performers, start-ups and companies to audaciously tackle tough challenges in areas such as transportation and urban management. We hope that the programme will be a stellar example of how a Smart Nation will use digital technology in an impactful way to improve citizens’ lives, and create new opportunities.”
Professor Ho Teck Hua, Executive Chairman of AI.SG, also Deputy President (Research & Technology) and Tan Chin Tuan Centennial Professor at NUS, said: “AI.SG provides unparalleled opportunities for universities and research institutions working in AI. The scale and approach of AI.SG are unique. The multi-disciplinary project teams in AI.SG will work collaboratively across institutional affiliations, disciplines and national borders to investigate fundamentally different approaches to develop innovative AI technology and solutions. A key feature of AI.SG will be a series of Grand Challenges that will inspire both the researchers and the end users to tackle major societal challenges that are not only relevant for Singapore but also the global community. AI.SG aspires to develop smart technologies that transform societies.”
[Press release issued by National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office](https://www.nrf.gov.sg/docs/default-source/modules/pressrelease/201705031442082191-press-release-(ai.pdf)
The NRF Fellowship provides opportunities for early career researchers to carry out independent research in Singapore. The NRF Investigatorship provides opportunities for established, innovative and active scientists and researchers, in their mid-career, to pursue ground-breaking research in Singapore. ↩