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RIE2020 Plan – A*STAR to launch two model factories, AI.SG Makerspace to be operational in January 2018

At the 10th Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC[1]) Meeting, chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong, the progress made on the RIE2020 Plan on Friday was reviewed. RIE2020 was launched last year, with the government planning to invest SG$19 billion over 5 years.

Announcements were made regarding the future in the four technology domains of the Plan- Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering (AME), Health & Biomedical Sciences (HBMS), Services & Digital Economy (SDE) and Urban Solutions & Sustainability (USS). Cutting-edge technologies will be explored, leveraging the capabilities built by earlier RIE investments.

Read our reports on plans in the USS sector here and in the HBMS sector here.  

Public-private partnership platforms to catalyse development and deployment of technologies

Manufacturing contributes around 20% of Singapore’s GDP and 14% of total employment. Future of Manufacturing (FOM) efforts are expected to enable local manufacturing companies to stay competitive in a time of increasing digitalisation and automation of manufacturing operations and workflow processes.

The government seeks to drive innovation, knowledge transfer and adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies, such as the industrial internet of things, robotics/automation and additive manufacturing, through public-private partnership platforms. Comprising Tech Labs (or Model Factories), Tech Access and Tech Depot, these platforms will allow companies to co-develop, experience, and deploy advanced manufacturing technologies while minimising potential disruptions to their operations.

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) will launch the Model Factory@SIMTech (SIMTech is the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology) and Model Factory@ARTC (ARTC is the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre) later this year and in the first quarter of 2018 respectively. A*STAR’s 'Model Factories’ initiative simulates production environments where companies can experiment and learn new manufacturing technologies, allowing SMEs to test new technologies with the help of public sector researchers before adopting into their factories. 

The Model Factory @ ARTC will be a Factory of the Future platform for companies investing in advanced manufacturing processes with a focus on coupling smart and virtual (i.e. Digital Twin) capabilities. Target end-users include larger enterprises and MNCs in heavy engineering such as the aerospace sector. The features of Model Factory@ARTC include a virtual production line for companies to model their product design and development before commencing work on a physical prototype. The Model Factory @ SIMTech will encompass a digital Learning Factory platform particularly for companies at the beginning of their FoM journey. A key feature of Model Factory@SIMTech is the live pilot-scale production line which will demonstrate how advanced manufacturing technologies operate in a real-life environment.

In addition, A*STAR is working closely with industry partners to deploy FOM technologies. For instance, CKE Manufacturing, a local precision engineering SME, has been working with A*STAR’s SIMTech to pilot FOM technologies since late 2015. With the pilot trial, CKE staff can now track the performance of its key manufacturing machines in real time and tap on the data to optimise the performance of future operations.

AI. SG to drive translation, commercialisation and adoption of AI

In May 2017, the National Research Foundation (NRF) announced the establishment of AI.SG, a national programme in Artificial Intelligence (AI) with an investment of SG$150 million over 5 years. This initiative is being driven by a government-wide partnership comprising NRF, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), EDB, IMDA, SGInnovate, and the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS).

AI.SG will solve national challenges from both the public and private sectors using AI-empowered solutions and innovations. It aims to catalyse the translation, commercialisation and adoption of such AI technology by our industries and society. AI.SG will also train AI R&D and engineering talent which is in high demand.

Under the umbrella of AI.SG, research institutions, government agencies and industry partners are working on three focus areas of application – finance, healthcare and city management solutions, in line with Singapore’s strengths as a global financial hub, a globally-recognised healthcare system, and a globally-acclaimed model city.

Development of AI is highly dependent on the availability of high quality data to train the systems. Singapore also benefits from the abundance of data that would help to rapidly refine the AI tools that are developed.

A new AI.SG Makerspace will begin operations at the Smart Nation Research Building at the National University of Singapore at January 2018. It will bring together researchers and industry partners together in an environment that promotes shared resources, with facilities designed to maximise community interaction, collaboration, and encourage adoption of intellectual property generated by AI.SG.

Mr Tan Kok Yam, Deputy Secretary, Smart Nation and Digital Government, Prime Minister’s Office said, "Startups, major companies and the AI community have registered significant interest to participate in AI.SG. We are forming up impactful projects in the pipeline which we hope to announce in the near future."

[1]Set up in 2006, the RIEC provides strategic direction for national R&D. The RIEC comprises Cabinet Ministers and distinguished local and foreign members from the business, science and technology communities.

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