Minister Yaacob Ibrahim unveiled three new initiatives at the opening keynote address of Innovfest Unbound 2017.
By Charmian Leong
Singapore’s journey towards becoming a Smart Nation has been further boosted by three new government initiatives to deepen the country’s know-how in burgeoning areas of artificial intelligence, data analytics and fintech.
The new programmes were unveiled by Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim at this year’s Innovfest Unbound conference – a two-day innovation festival that showcases and celebrates the latest achievements in infocomm and media.
The first is AI.SG, a national programme to boost Singapore’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. It will seek to address major challenges that affect society and invest in deep capabilities to catch the next wave of scientific innovation, as well as broaden adoption of AI and machine learning within the tech industry.
Minister Yaacob identified three focus areas where AI.SG will be applied: finance, city management solutions and healthcare. “In 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 care,” he said in his keynote address at the opening session of Innovfest Unbound on 3 May. He added that the National Research Foundation (NRF), one of the partners of the programme, will invest up to $150 million in AI.SG over the next five years.
The second initiative is the Singapore Data Science Consortium, set up by the NRF, local universities, and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star). It aims to strengthen research collaborations between institutes of higher learning, research institutes and industry. “This will help industry to adopt data science and analytics technologies to address real-world challenges,” said Minister Yaacob. Singapore is already home to more than 50 per cent of Southeast Asia’s data centres.
Beyond these programmes, Minister Yaacob also took the wraps off a third initiative spearheaded by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in partnership with local banks DBS, OCBC and UOB.
Under the pact between IMDA and the three local banks, companies that are accredited under the Accreditation@IMDA scheme will get increased access to fintech projects within the participating banks and receive aid to scale internationally.
“The partnerships will enable IMDA-accredited companies to scale up by gaining access to real problem statements and opportunities to work on innovative fintech projects within the banks and expand into international markets through the banks’ global footprint,” he said.
The minister also highlighted the importance of developing talent for a changing world. While talent development platforms such as IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) will continue to equip the workforce with necessary skills, he noted that Singapore would continue to be open to global talent in areas where it still lacks deep capabilities.
In his address, IMDA CEO Tan Kiat How (right) stressed that government support will be broad-based across a range of industries. “The digital economy is not just for one particular segment. We have 23 industry transformation roadmaps, and an important part of this transformation are the SMEs. They account for a large proportion of our workforce and GDP,” he said.
As part of the SMEs Go Digital programme launched in April, IMDA has pre-approved close to 50 digital tech solutions for SMEs to tap on. One example showcased at Innovfest Unbound was the 3D IoT platform for Smart Buildings by Asahi Security Technologies. This solution will help building and business operators better manage situations through 3D visualisation in the command centre.
Tan said, “We, at IMDA, see Innovfest Unbound as a valuable platform to share our vision of Singapore transforming into a Smart Nation, where every business is a digital business, every citizen is connected, and every worker enabled by technology.”
Innovfest Unbound is part of SNI Week, which was brought to you by IMDA, organised by NUS Enterprise and Unbound, in support of Smart Nation Singapore.