How Singapore might turn into a global AI powerhouse
BY 2018, Singapore looks set to be home to the world’s largest artificial intelligence hub which would be based in its central business district.
Last week, private investment firm Marvelstone Group announced the launching of the hub that will serve the existing need in the market and push Singapore to become a global leader in AI tech.
The firm, which is behind Singapore-based fintech hub LATTICE 80, said the hub was expected to be a key growth engine of the economy, the Straits Times reported.
The hub in Singapore will be followed by sister hubs in Japan, Scotland and Canada, the firm said.
Marvelstone president Joel Ko Hyun Sik said the firm can help commercialise current AI initiatives in Singapore which were mostly research focussed to deploy them in the public and private sectors.
“There is a clear need for a big playground for startups, entrepreneurs, and even corporates in the field of AI. Considering the high interest and demand for AI globally, there are still relatively few places to test these new technologies,” he was quoted as saying.
“Our goal will be to build 100 AI start-ups per year and attract global AI talent to come to Singapore to incubate their own applications and collaborate with our local teams. We’re extremely excited about this vision and believe AI will represent an unparalleled theatre of growth of the future.”
Marvelstone said multinational corporations and institutions that collaborate with the hub stood to benefit from access to innovative AI startups and invariably create demand for the projects.
It added products by startups would be commercialised in a more systematic and organised way, while the corporate world could adopt their tech in a “plug and play” manner.
Shot in the arm
Earlier this year, Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) pledged SGD$150 million (US$110 mil) to boost the country’s AI capabilities over the next five years.
The initiative, called AI.SG, involved Singapore-based research institutes team up with startups and companies developing AI products to bolster research and development in the area
“AI.SG will do three key things – first, address major challenges that affect both society and industry. Secondly, invest in deep capabilities to catch the next wave of scientific innovation. And finally, to grow AI innovation and adoption in companies – an initiative most pertinent to our business community,” Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said, as quoted by Channel News Asia.
Marvelstone’s AI hub announcement last week coincided with the launching of another global AI research facility in Singapore by e-commerce giant Alibaba.
While the two hubs would operate independently from each other, Ko was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying that Alibaba’s facility was a shot in the arm for the city state’s ambition to become a regional focal point for the booming industry.
“Such a movement by a technology giant is good for us … because they make AI buzzing and popular,” Ko said.
On Singapore’s appeal as a global centre for AI, Ko said the republic was attracting the world’s leading talent due to its cosmopolitan society and government’s strong support for tech research.