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Singapore becomes worlds biggest AI hub

Singapore is attracting the world’s leading artificial intelligence talent because of its status as a cosmopolitan society and strong state backing for technology research, according to the head of the private equity firm building a mega hub in the city for start ups involved in the sector.

Joel Ko Hyun Sik, co-founder and chief executive of Marvelstone Ventures, said Alibaba’s announcement last week that it would site one of its global AI research facilities in Singapore was a shot in the arm for the republic’s ambitions to become a regional focal point for the fast growing industry.

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,” said Hyun Sik.

The goal is to incubate 100 startups, and build intellectual property in the area of AI. Such efforts would include educating some 1,000 people per year in this field, and drawing in investments through the hub, Marvelstone said.

In May this year, Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) said would be investing up to S$150m (US$107m) over five years in a national programme, called AI.SG, to enhance adoption of AI, not only to solve business problems, but also to address major challenges facing society and industry, such as the greater healthcare demands from Singapore’s rapidly ageing population.

NRF said the programme would harness the capabilities of startups and corporate laboratories alike. It would also offer AI.SG software tools and frameworks released under appropriate open source licences, anonymised datasets and high-performance computing resources.