Singapore Bets Big on AI for Future Growth

While the China, India and the US are shoring up their assets and investments to become the next AI leader, Singapore is playing to its advantage: size.

The city-state is now looking to use AI and Fintech to realize its dream of becoming a Smart Nation by 2025. Five years later, it wants to roll out Smart Mobility that will shape the lives of its citizens.

Recently, the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Singapore announced a national program, AI Singapore (AI.SG). According to reports, it aims to catalyze, synergize and boost Singapore's AI capabilities to power its future digital economy. AI.SG also offers a platform for partnerships for the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, the Economic Development Board, the Infocomm Media Development Authority, the Integrated Health Information Systems, and startup accelerator SGInnovate.

NRF aims to pour USD 150 million over five years into AI.SG. It will bring together all Singapore-based research institutions and the AI startup ecosystem to develop solutions and talent.

The AI.SG is already attracting foreign talents and firms. Since the launch of AI.SG, global AI startups, and accelerators have been moving to set up footholds in Singapore. For example, US-based AI firm DataRobot announced in late November 2017 that it would invest USD 11 million for its regional headquarters in Singapore. A US-based tech accelerator Techstars noted in early December that it wants to start an accelerator firm in Singapore with Japan's Rakuten. Meanwhile, Singapore's largest telecom operator Singtel recently announced its plans to build an AI lab.

AI will have a strong impact on Singapore economic growth, said a recent report by Accenture Research. It estimated AI would help Singapore to almost double its annual economic growth to 5.4% through 2035 from the existing 3-3.2% level. The report noted that it would take only 13 years for Singapore's GDP to double with AI, compared to 22 years without it.