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Singtel, NTU and NRF Singapore establish S$42.4 million corporate lab to accelerate AI and data science innovation

On December 4, Singtel signed
agreements with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) and the
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to drive R&D efforts
in emerging technologies that will support Singapore’s transformation into a Smart
Nation.

Singtel, NTU and the National Research Foundation Singapore
(NRF) have entered into a five-year partnership to establish a S$42.4 million corporate
lab, to be called Singtel Cognitive and Artificial Intelligence Lab for
Enterprises (SCALE@NTU).

Around 100 researchers from Singtel and NTU will work at
SCALE@NTU, while another 200 research engineers, graduate and undergraduate
students will also be trained in the lab. The partners, through their
collective expertise and resources, aim to accelerate innovation in the fields
of AI, advanced data analytics, robotics and smart computing.

Applications will be developed at the lab for use in the
areas of public safety, smart urban solutions, transportation, healthcare and
manufacturing.

For instance, the research by SCALE@NTU could help resolve
various challenges faced by cities in keeping their infrastructure facilities in
excellent running condition. Smart sensors embedded with AI can enable city
governments to analyse data from infrastructure facilities and conduct maintenance
works only when necessary, to achieve optimal performance for these assets.
This would help cut operating costs for cities that currently spend significant
amounts on routine maintenance, whilst not compromising on infrastructure
quality and performance standards.

Over the next five years, this partnership is also expected
to expand the product range of Singtel and its regional ICT subsidiary, NCS

NTU was ranked world No. 2 by Nikkei and Elsevier for having
the most-cited research papers in AI and data science. At the launch of the
lab, AI
innovations were showcased
such as AI powered sensors that can identify and
distinguish between different sounds, processing data on the spot. Placed
outdoors they could help monitor the environment, picking up calls for help or
monitoring road safety. Inside the home, an AI-powered sensor network could
help monitor the elderly, helping gain insights into their life and building a
picture to predict their health and well-being. Another innovation showcased was a surveillance software that can identify persons-of-interest in a video and search footage in other cameras for the same person.

Professor Lam Khin Yong, NTU’s Acting Provost, Chief of Staff and Vice President (Research) said, “For Singapore to achieve its Smart Nation vision, we have to keep pushing the frontiers of AI and develop innovative ways to process, analyse and utilise big data. This is how the collaborative effort between Singtel and NTU on cognitive computing will make a huge impact, improving productivity for businesses while making our cities smarter and more efficient.”

“This collaboration
marks a significant step for Singtel to develop intellectual property in
emerging technologies to support enterprises in their digital transformation
and Singapore’s Smart Nation objectives. As businesses face the rising threat
of technological disruptions, companies are constantly seeking innovative ways
to gain deeper insights through data analytics, better engage their customers
and transform their operations through digitalisation. To help companies
address these challenges, we are stepping up our R&D efforts to develop
deep capabilities in these focused areas,” added Mr. Bill Chang, Chief Executive
Officer, Group Enterprise at Singtel.,

Mr George Loh, NRF Singapore’s Director (Programmes), said
that this latest collaboration between Singtel and NTU underscores the
significance of developing research expertise and capabilities in advanced analytics
for Singapore to be a leading provider of smart city solutions. 

“The lab will provide a platform for researchers and
engineers from both academia and industry to work together to translate
cutting-edge research into digital solutions and offerings by our companies,
while nurturing a pipeline of digital talent who can drive Singapore’s Smart
Nation journey,” he said.

Partnership between
Singtel and A*STAR

Singtel and A*STAR will also work together on projects
including smart building automation systems, robotics and Internet of Things
(IoT) applications that could help boost operating efficiencies in various
industries. For instance, robots can be
deployed to handle biohazardous waste, allowing companies to deploy their
employees to undertake higher value-added jobs.

Such technologies can be tested on Singtel’s NarrowBand-IoT
and 5G mobile network in a model
factory
to be set up by A*STAR next year. 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.

Professor Tan Sze Wee, Executive Director of the Science and
Engineering Research Council at A*STAR, commented, “Public-private partnerships
and open innovation pave the way for successful projects that could benefit the
Singapore economy and lives of Singaporeans. In this age where disruptions are
emerging rapidly, such joint collaborations are all the more valuable. A*STAR
is happy to partner with Singtel to drive R&D in the latest technologies
towards applications across industries.” 

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