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Singapore will soon house the world’s biggest AI hub

Private investment firm Marvelstone Group plans to build an artificial intelligence hub in Singapore, which is just beginning to lay the foundation for an AI ecosystem

Singapore will next year be home to the world’s biggest artificial intelligence (AI) hub – if private investment firm Marvelstone Group gets its way.

The company said on Monday (16 October) that it plans to use the AI hub, to be located in Singapore’s central business district, to incubate AI startups, develop AI-related intellectual property, grow ideas and organise community events.

Marvelstone said that through the hub, startups would be able to commercialise their products in a more systematic and organised way, while reaching out to corporate customers. The AI hub follows Lattice80, a 30,000ft2 facility launched by Marvelstone in November 2016 to speed up the growth of Singapore’s burgeoning financial technology space.

“There is a clear need for a big playground for startups, entrepreneurs and even corporates in the field of AI,” said Joel Ko, president of Marvelstone Group. “Considering the high interest and demand for AI globally, there are still relatively few places to test these new technologies. Our goal is to build 100 AI startups a year and attract global AI talent to Singapore to incubate their own applications and collaborate with our local teams.”

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.

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While Singapore is starting to lay the foundation of its AI ecosystem, other countries are already ahead in AI developments. According to a McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) study, the US soaked up about 66% of external AI investments in 2016, with China a distant second at 17%.

MGI noted that the world’s technology giants continue to make the biggest investments in AI. Last year, they spent an estimated $20bn to $30bn on AI, with 90% of this going to R&D (research and development) and deployment, and 10% on AI acquisitions.

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