SINGAPORE has been getting a lot of positive press lately. In the last month alone, General Electric announced the opening of a high-tech service center in the city-state, while Proctor & Gamble launched a new digital innovation hub. While the tiny island nation has long been used by MNCs as a launchpad for Asia, it’s clear Singapore has become the innovation cluster in the region to watch.
The latest news from Tech in Asia confirms this, as Singularity University (SU) has officially launched a Singapore chapter last week. SU’s launch came with a pitching competition – the “Global Impact Challenge” – for innovators who are solving some of humanity’s biggest problems using technology.
The innovation builder, best described as “a community of thinkers and innovators that apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges,” exists to bring together creative minds and bolster them with resources and networks.
Founded by futurist Ray Kurzweil and tech entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, SU is driven by the kind of forward-thinking problem-solving that will impact mankind in the long run.
While Diamandis is concerned with providing resources, such as clean water, education and healthcare, to the nine billion people on the planet, Kurzweil talks a lot about “technological singularity” —the belief that AI will “trigger abrupt and irrevocable change in human civilization.”
Some concrete examples of this problem include unemployment in sectors that are seeing a lot more automation —which is already happening at a large scale in China’s manufacturing space.
The Singapore chapter will be focused on applying SU’s values to solving problems locally and across Southeast Asia as well as be partnering with universities and businesses along the way. According to Lee Chon Cheng, a member of the Singapore chapter leadership team, healthcare is currently one of its main areas of focus.
SU operates across the globe in Europe, South America, South Africa and India, through chapters, and runs a three-month incubator program in its Silicon Valley HQ for its global impact challenge winners. The idea is to nurture innovators and help them build startups. Graduates of SU include space 3D printer maker Made in Space, and autonomous delivery company Matternet.