Enterprise Singapore and the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support enterprise development through industrial and digital transformation in sectors of common interest, including advanced manufacturing, digitalisation and innovation, medical technology and healthcare, and future of mobility.
Under the MOU, Enterprise Singapore and APA will co-organise the refreshed Germany Singapore Business Forum Connect which will feature sector-specific events held throughout the year to facilitate more frequent collaborations between German and Singapore companies.
Mr Peter Ong, Chairman of Enterprise Singapore and Co-Chair of GSBF Connect, said, “In this changing business environment, our enterprises need to connect with one another in more and better ways. Germany and Singapore are trusted partners who place a high emphasis on delivering quality and innovative products and services. The MOU between Enterprise Singapore and APA will cement this commitment to help our companies collaborate and leverage each other’s strengths. I look forward to forging new partnerships with Germany, and welcoming our German friends and partners to join us for the upcoming series of GSBF Connect events.”
Partnerships between Singapore and German companies are expected to grow as both countries deepen business ties through a suite of initiatives. In the last four years alone, the Germany Singapore Business Forum (GSBF) has brought together more than 400 German and Singapore companies.
Platforms such as the GSBF have raised interest amongst Singapore companies to explore opportunities in
Germany, as reflected in the number of business missions to Germany led by Enterprise Singapore which has almost doubled on a year-on-year basis.
The number of business missions to Germany increased from 13 in 2018 to 22 in 2019, benefitting over 150 companies in 2019, across sectors including advanced manufacturing, medical technology and healthcare, future of mobility, and e-sports.
Prof. Axel Stepken, Chairman of the Management Board TÜV SÜD AG and Co-Chair of GSBF Connect, said, “Singapore is attractive to German companies in several ways – as a proven long-term partner with whom new technologies and innovative business models can be developed, but also as an experienced bridge builder into the emerging ASEAN region.
“Singapore has a strong record as a leading R&D hub and digital trendsetter, while German companies are known for their ability to manufacture state-of-the-art machinery and products. I still see many fields and sectors in which we can bring our specific strengths together. With the GSBF Connect, we want to make a relevant contribution to realize these untapped potentials.”
The first edition of GSBF Connect, dedicated to the manufacturing sector, will be held virtually during Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC 20203 on 21 October. A second edition of GSBF Connect will be held during the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology on 9 December 2020.
Singapore and German SMEs have collaborated in co-innovation projects under the Germany-Singapore SME Funding Programme, jointly managed by Enterprise Singapore, and AiF Projekt GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
A new partnership between Singapore Polytechnic, German testing, inspection and certification company TÜV SÜD, industrial automation leader Delta Electronics and Singapore’s Smart I4.0 Transformation Alliance (SiTA) was announced on 14 October 2020.
To improve Singapore’s biologics manufacturing capabilities, top pharmaceutical companies will collaborate with research groups from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and its innovation and enterprise company, NTUitive.
Through the Biologics Pharma Innovation Programme Singapore (BioPIPS), a consortium founded by A*STAR with assistance from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), their relationship will be formally established.
BioPIPS aims to expand Singapore’s biologics production capabilities, including those for vaccines and recombinant therapeutic proteins. Biologics and vaccinations were crucial in averting severe sickness and saving lives worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leading industry professionals and Singapore’s research ecosystem will join forces through the consortium to increase manufacturing productivity, boost operational effectiveness, and meet sustainability objectives. The consortium’s goal is to best-in-class and position Singapore’s biologics manufacturing capabilities for the introduction of new products and cutting-edge production techniques.
Professor Lim Keng Hui, Assistant Chief Executive, Science and Engineering Research Council, A*STAR stated that new opportunities will arise as the biomanufacturing industry goes through significant changes brought on by the rapid pace of digitalisation, Industry 4.0, and the need for greater sustainability.
A*STAR seeks to contribute its R&D capabilities through BioPIPS to help the local biomanufacturing industry become more agile and better positioned to benefit from new products and technologies. Also, in its Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2025 Plan, Singapore prioritises biopharmaceutical production.
BioPIPS expands on the consortium concept created by the Pharma Innovation Programme Singapore (PIPS), which was intended to strengthen Singapore’s capabilities in the production of small molecule pharmaceuticals consisting of chemical compounds.
Based on the success of PIPS, BioPIPS seeks to strengthen Singapore’s innovative capabilities in the production of biologics and vaccines by utilising the strengths of the top pharmaceutical firms and academic institutions.
The programme will create cutting-edge production technologies and solutions that are highly productive, sustainable, and innovative. Singapore is eager to expand collaborations with businesses that share its values to enhance its status as a centre to produce biopharmaceuticals worldwide.
BioPIPS will specifically feature three workstreams: First is the Sensing and Modelling Workstream intends to use smart sensors, mechanistic modelling, and machine learning to provide streamlined and quicker procedures. Data analytics will make it possible to effectively translate acquired process information into performance enhancements, which will benefit the manufacturing process.
Second is the Sustainability Workstream concentrates on addressing sustainability issues in the production of biologics and vaccines, which frequently require single-use (disposable) equipment because of the ultra-sterile conditions required for product purity. To address this challenge, this workstream will investigate the use of innovative materials, circular economy strategies, and models to encourage more resilient and sustainable supply chains.
And the third is the Compliant Agility Workstream which aims to increase productivity in manufacturing facilities while preserving compliance status by eliminating manual operations and utilising tools like robotics and cutting-edge analytics.
The Manufacturing 2030 vision of Singapore, which intends to anchor leading manufacturing operations to increase the nation’s manufacturing value-add by 50% from 2020, is consistent with BioPIPS.
The solutions created by BioPIPS will also improve Singapore’s capacity to meet the rising demand for biologics and vaccines around the world and give local pharmaceutical firms the tools they need to expand and react more quickly to pandemics in the future.
Enabling Partnerships to Increase Innovation Capacity (EPIIC), is a new USS$20 million initiative from the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the U.S. that encourages two-year institutions that serve primarily undergraduate students, minority-serving institutions, and other emerging research institutions to take part in local innovation ecosystems. The programme will give training and networking support to help establish more inclusive ecosystems.
EPIIC will provide up to US$ 400,000 over three years to develop the capacity and institutional knowledge needed to build new partnerships and secure future external funding, enabling awardees to tap into their regional innovation ecosystems and potentially into an NSF Regional Innovation Engine (NSF Engine).
According to NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, the NSF strives to inspire broad networks of partners to work together to train the next generation of skilled American workers. In addition, the programme will generate chances for more inclusive engagement in entrepreneurship, startups, and other commercialisation activities, all of which are essential to the American research and innovation business.
The goal of the NSF Engines programme is to expand inclusive innovation ecosystems across the country. The programme acknowledges the need for additional targeted support for the infrastructure and resources required to grow external partnerships and tap into innovation ecosystems, including interacting with NSF Engines, for many institutions, including minority-serving institutions, small academic institutions, and two-year institutions.
Through EPIIC, institutions will take part in interactive online and live events to build cohorts and jointly create effective strategies to increase their capacity to collaborate across sectors. Participating institutions will develop strategies to advance efforts in workforce development, use-inspired research and development, and the translation of research results to practice in emerging technology areas such as microelectronics, advanced wireless, biotechnology, quantum information science, semiconductors, advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence (AI).
Moreover, the NSF has joined the federal and university partners to announce a unique engagement between the U.S. government and academic stakeholders to aid researchers facing a broad spectrum of hazards to research integrity and security.
The Safeguarding Science toolset was designed with the scientific community for the scientific community. It provides research stakeholders with a single destination to acquire security best practices from across government and academia and to select solutions adapted to their unique needs.
Developed by the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Centre in partnership with NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Transportation and its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Health and Human Services the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the American Association of Universities, the toolkit will promote a robust and resilient U.S. research ecosystem that emphasises integrity, collaboration, openness and security, all of which facilitate innovation.
The Safeguarding Science online toolkit is created for individuals and organisations in the U.S. scientific, academic and emerging-technology sectors that are wanting to develop strategies to protect research, technology and staff from theft, abuse, misuse or exploitation. The toolkit provides a framework for researchers to openly interact while building precautions that keep theft, abuse, and other risks at bay.
The toolkit reflects NSF’s commitment to partnering with the research community and U.S. government scientific and intelligence organisations to exchange information, best practices, and tools to mitigate risks and foster international collaboration to guarantee a flourishing research environment.
Science, engineering, technology, and innovation give people the power to develop a country and its quality of life. Investment in these areas is vital for economic growth and social progress.
Research and development in smart tech can help build greener cities with better access to essential systems and services for all. Moreover, infrastructure development, technology transfer and public and private R&D must be supported and regulated by good policies if they are to work.
To ensure scientific progress is encouraged and embraced at all levels of government decision-making, the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) is tasked with giving strategic advice to the government and stakeholders, as well as pursuing excellence in science, engineering, and technology for the benefit of everyone.
Malaysia’s S.E.T.I. Initiatives
One of the contributions of the ASM is to incorporate interactive learning of STEM into the pedagogy of education in Malaysian schools. “To see the performance and results, inquiry-based science education (IBSE) will create an interactive learning environment in the physical classroom. Therefore, we want to have this kind of ecosystem and environment in schools.”
She is eager to see more collaboration between tertiary education and industry so that any courses and curricula provided by universities are both industry-required and future-proof. This is why their organisation is working with the government to create collaboration between industry and academia. “I believe that will help us advance more.”
ASM is currently working with the Malaysian government, in particular the central agency, to begin evaluating public decision-making universities based on data. Hence, using facts, metrics, and data to inform strategic business decisions that align with goals, objectives, and initiatives is the most effective data-driven decision-making.
Making data-driven decisions the norm within an organisation is necessary to foster a climate that values scepticism and curiosity. “Data is the starting point of conversations at every level, and people improve their data skills through practice and application,” says Hazami.
At its core, this calls for a self-service model where users can access the data they require while maintaining a balance between security and governance. Additionally, it necessitates proficiency, resulting in opportunities for training and development for workers to acquire data skills.
Additionally, ASM has developed a Responsible Conduct of Research module which acts as a benchmark to have this code of ethics in research taught to all graduates, whether they are in hard sciences or the social sciences.
“We want that because every piece of knowledge we incorporate in the future will be based on good science and value. Therefore, we must consider bioethics, biosecurity, and training modules on ethics in research,” Hazami explains.
ASM has recently directed its scientists to provide solutions in close collaboration with the ministries. Citing as an example is their committee on water, energy, health, agriculture, and biodiversity (WEHAB++). For instance, when Malaysia faces issues such as the price hike for chicken feed which causes societal dissatisfaction, solutions to food security issues such as this can be provided by the Academy’s expert network through science and technology directly to the government and stakeholders.
In addition to providing policies and strategies to decision-makers, the ASM also teaches them how to carry out those policies and strategies by applying their knowledge.
Hazami highlighted the growing movement called “Open Science” which aims to open scientific data and research to the public. In addition to democratising knowledge, the international principle of making research data findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) will support open scientific inquiry and integrity, facilitate improved research management, and encourage data-intensive research.
Unprecedented insights and solutions to local, regional, and global complex challenges are made possible by integrating numerous data streams and enormous datasets across numerous disciplines.
Through the Malaysia Open Science Alliance, the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment & Climate Change (MESTECC), now known as the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) and the ASM are laying the groundwork for the realisation of the Malaysia Open Science Platform (MOSP), a strategic transformative project to strengthen Malaysia’s STI Collaborative Ecosystem.
“The Malaysia Open Science Platform or MOSP aims to connect raw research data, then collaborate and share,” Hazami explains. “By creating a reliable platform that enables accessibility and sharing of research data aligned to national priorities and international best practices, this initiative seeks to transform Malaysia’s research data into a valuable national asset.”
Hazami is passionate about science and technology because it has the power to change the nation. “I’m attempting to make a change, and one of those changes is in the area of science and technology.”
For her, the most meaningful contribution in her 26 years in the academy was when the government accepted 80% of their recommendations for transforming and creating change and an ecosystem. “For now, our current areas of focus are strengthening governance, the innovation ecosystem and the sustainability of R&D funding.”
A change in paradigm towards a growth mindset among policymakers, scientists and the younger generations is her greatest challenge and greatest passion. She believes that when decision-making is based on data, it can provide the best solution possible.
Hazami strongly believes that Malaysian women are more than capable of pursuing careers in science and technology. They hope to have a strong support network to help them succeed in those fields, whether as practitioners or scientists.
“Our goal is flexibility. We need to have an open work environment and open innovation because we can work from home as researchers and scientists. We are more adaptable now. If we can accomplish this, more and more women will contribute to the workforce more effectively,” she says emphatically.
By reaching out to the top management and demystifying technical terms, OpenGov Asia, a steadfast supporter of Malaysia’s digital transformation journey and an advocate for citizen-centric development, will continue to help bring about change. Hazami concludes by urging top leaders to practice a growth mindset for the betterment of the country.
Hazami strongly believes that over the course of the next five years, ASM will continue to serve as a catalyst for change and create the science, technology, innovation, and economy (STIE) ecosystem for the entire nation towards the full potential of digital transformation, including the Malaysian transformation and the humanisation of the economy. “Leaders’ courageous decisions pave the road to successful digital transformation.”
The Institute for Digital Molecular Analytics and Science (IDMxS), which aims to promote the science of analysing biological molecules (biomolecules) using information technology and data science, was recently established by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore). This could pave the way for real-time environmental or health data monitoring and analysis, like how real-time traffic data can be obtained on mobile devices.
IDMxS, NTU’s newest national Research Centre of Excellence (RCE), is funded with a total investment of over S$160 million over 10 years, with the majority coming from NTU and the National University of Singapore and S$94 million coming from the Singapore Ministry of Education.
Digital molecular analytics, a novel scientific discipline that analyses individual molecules to discover, identify, and measure biomolecules with extraordinary accuracy, is at the core of the work done at IDMxS.
Such a science will open many new areas of research, such as the creation of diagnostic testing capabilities that may then inspire the creation of new technologies and commercial spinoffs, including blood testing kits that can generate findings instantly using nothing more than a smartphone camera.
The interdisciplinary centre is anticipated to house 100 full-time researchers and employees with backgrounds ranging throughout the spectrum of engineering and science, from optics, computer science, and artificial intelligence (AI) to biology, medical technology, and chemistry.
Postgraduate students from NTU will have exceptional chances for interdisciplinary education and training that spans the molecular sciences and information technology through the graduate programme of IDMxS. More than 30 PhD students will receive support from the Centre, four of whom have already begun their studies. As clinical diagnostics become more digital, IDMxS will also create continuing education programmes aimed at developing and modernising the healthcare workforce.
By fusing the fields of biology and information technology – which have each recently undergone revolutionary changes – IDMxS will create the new science of digital molecular analytics. The objective is to develop tools that can track environmental data, such as air and water quality, and health information, like viral infections or molecular signatures that signal the existence of a disease, in real-time. To develop innovative solutions for issues with health, sickness, and environmental monitoring, this process begins with the development of fundamental science.
The ability to simultaneously gather a variety of data types from a biological sample and use tools like AI and machine learning algorithms to analyse and interpret the enormous volume of data that would otherwise be impossible for humans to make sense of is at the core of IDMxS’ digital molecular analytical strategies. The research centre intends to someday spin out solutions like widely used software using digital molecular analytics.
Moreover, making blood sample test kits is one potential use for digital molecular analytics that IDMxS is investigating. The goal of this research is to create a tool that can recognise the various chemicals responsible for illnesses, infections, and diseases.
This suggests that a physician might someday be able to take a blood sample, analyse it with a smartphone camera, and obtain an accurate, real-time reading next to the patient at the doctor’s table. A similar idea might do away with the necessity for additional time-consuming laboratory tests.
The extensive surveillance of illnesses spread by insects like dengue and malaria is another project that is now under development. Researchers can one day create an imaging system that can swiftly detect and monitor dengue among the mosquito population by recognising and analysing the chemicals that make up the dengue virus. Such studies might also be used to track other airborne infections and infectious diseases, in addition to insect-borne diseases that affect urban health.
New technology will be keeping beachgoers safer this summer with the Smart Beaches project providing real-time data to almost 50 beaches in NSW, helping the region’s lifeguards more accurately predict beach conditions using GPS and smart cameras.
The Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government stated that the NSW government had invested AU$ 1.6 million to expand the project beyond the Northern Beaches and Lake Macquarie to five new council areas up and down the coast this swim season.
He noted that wave detection buoys, artificial intelligence cameras and surf rescue boards fitted with GPS technology to gather accurate data will be used on beach conditions to enable lifeguards to be better prepared for the busy summer ahead.
These smart devices will provide real-time readings on tide conditions and wave patterns, as well as help to predict how many people will visit the beach, how long they will stay and the most popular times for a swim.
The Smart Beaches project will allow beachgoers to feel safer at the surf, knowing the lifeguards have the latest data on hand to be better prepared for dangerous conditions and prevent incidents both in and out of the water.
The Minister for Local Government stated that the expansion of the trial will mean more councils will benefit from new technology. The data insights help councils make better decisions about when and where to roster lifeguards, decisions that could save lives, she said. As a result, this programme will now be expanded to beaches in Randwick, Central Coast, Wollongong, Newcastle, and Sutherland.
The Member for Manly noted that the technology had been successfully trialled at Freshwater, Shelley, South Steyne and Dee Why beaches. Over the summer of 2020-2021, 88 lives were lost in the surf. Thus, the technology will help lifeguards make more informed decisions to reduce that toll.
The state’s lifeguards will require all help they can get monitoring the surf, conditions, crowd numbers and keeping our beachgoers safe. An app is also being developed for Summer 2023/2024 that will help councils streamline existing reporting and data systems into one, easy-to-interpret dashboard. Funding has been provided through the Smart Places Acceleration Programme, an AU$45 million allocation as part of the Digital Restart Fund.
About the Smart Places Acceleration Programme
The NSW government has launched the NSW Smart Places Acceleration Programme, an AU$45 million initiative that helps place owners – including councils, government agencies, property owners, and regional organisations – partner with the State Government to solve problems and improve the quality of life for communities across regional and metropolitan NSW.
The programme will seek to:
- Support economic and community recovery post COVID-19
- Encourage partnerships with and co-investment from local councils and industry to deliver smart place initiatives
- Support advancement and implementation of the NSW Smart Places Strategy
- Ensure NSW remains the leading state in implementing Smart Places initiatives
The Minister for Customer Service stated that this programme will connect and empower communities by driving investment in new technology and data. The aim is to use technology to make life easier for people. Be it busting congestion or improving health outcomes, the funding aims to strengthen communities. The government is calling on expressions of interest and encourages all relevant councils and place owners to bring forward ideas.
The seven best smart cities in Indonesia were announced at the Ministry of Communication and Informatics seminar and exhibition on the Movement Towards Smart Cities (Smart City) in 2022 in Jakarta. Representatives from 141 regencies attend the event in a framework for evaluating the implementation of the Smart City 2022 program.
District/city officials who have succeeded in developing a master plan under the Smart City development in their respective regions attended. The session was organised to showcase the commitment of all regional leaders so that the community see the benefits and progress, said Bambang Dwi Anggono, Director of Government Information Application Services (LAIP) of the Ministry of Communication and Information.
The five best cities and two districts took the Smart City award in the following categories:
- Smart Governance: City of Bandung,
- Smart Branding: Surakarta City,
- Smart Economy: Semarang City,
- Smart Society: City of Yogyakarta,
- Smart Living: Demak Regency,
- Smart Environment: Madiun City, and
- National Priority Tourism Area: Wonogiri
The Smart City initiative is a strategic step toward addressing development plans holistically. The programme aims to harmonise regional government sectors and regional initiative programmes with other regional governments, the central government, the business world, and even other countries. Local governments can work together with other local governments, businesses, academia, and the general public to launch various initiatives that will have a positive impact.
The Smart City Movement aims to guide regions and cities across Indonesia in designing digital-based development that considers each region’s potential and challenges. Furthermore, the Smart City programme can bring innovations from Jakarta to other areas, ensuring an even distribution of development programmes.
The Ministry of Communication and Information has facilitated interconnection with relevant parties in the Smart City development. In addition, the Ministry, through the LAIP Directorate, intends to include 50 regencies/cities in the Smart City master plan assistance in 2023.
“We hope that regional leaders (regents/mayors) will have the courage to innovate and make breakthroughs for the good of society. Correspondingly, we encourage regional heads to become change agents in these breakthroughs (SPBE),” said Bambang Dwi Anggono.
The Ministry intends to implement Smart Province next year. The Smart Province programme will select two provinces in 2023 to prepare the master plan. Smart Province development conceptualises development innovations at the provincial level and coordinates Smart City development at the district level within its jurisdiction. Two provinces will be selected to help prepare the master plan.
Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, Director General of Informatics Applications at the Ministry of Communication and Information, emphasised the importance of digital transformation as a foundation for building smart cities.
“Creating a Smart City begins with digital transformation; from there, every local government understands what is required. Because each Regional Government has unique characteristics. But, in the end, everything will point to the holistic Smart City that we taught,” he was quoted as saying.
He also stressed the importance of creating a master plan for the long-term development of Smart Cities as establishing a smart city would take 15 to 20 years. As a result, the Ministry has created a programme to educate local entities on constructing a Smart City.
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang announced at a cabinet meeting that Taiwan’s contract chip manufacturing firms now have a 63% share of the global market. Furthermore, Taiwanese companies handle 58% of all global integrated circuit packaging and testing. As a result, Taiwan semiconductor manufacturing has emerged as a critical player in global supply chains.
Taiwan’s semiconductor industry has risen to first place in the world in chip manufacturing and integrated circuit packaging after four decades of hard work. Taiwan also ranks second globally in integrated circuit design, with a 22% market share. Furthermore, the domestic semiconductor industry is collaborating with foreign partners to serve global clients, demonstrating that Taiwan is an essential and irreplaceable partner due to the world’s most efficient and difficult-to-duplicate production model.
The achievement began three years ago when Taiwan took advantage of the global scenario. Taiwan persuaded related industry operations to relocate from China to Taiwan. Premier Su mentions the effort that resulted in three years of economic success.
According to recent data from global indexes, the premier also stated that Taiwan ranks among the top countries in the world on criteria such as investment environment and free democracy, with the country ranking among the best in Asia in many categories. These high marks enforce even more confidence in international partners.
Nonetheless, Su emphasises the importance of Taiwan remaining vigilant. The government is developing response measures to allow domestic chip manufacturers to maintain their competitive edge and vital positions in the industry. Premier Su stated that the government is consulting with the industry to develop a future development strategy. The strategy provides more generous tax incentives, encourages R&D investment, and eases restrictions on talent recruitment, in addition to delivering Taiwan-based semiconductor manufacturers with a high-quality investment environment, including the provision of water, electricity and land.
The government’s comprehensive support for the domestic semiconductor industry will enable Taiwan to maintain its lead in advanced technology and efficient fabrication methods, secure a substantial competitive advantage, and continue contributing to the world. The country will also adhere to international norms while reassuring allies. Taiwan will maintain this stance in the future, displaying critical strengths to the world and being a team player who inspires international trust.
Meanwhile, Taiwan and Slovakia recently signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in Bratislava, pledging to increase bilateral trade, startup exchanges, and talent-nurturing collaborations in the semiconductor sector. The Memoranda of Understanding were signed by the Taipei Importers and Exporters Association and the Council of Slovak Exporters, Taiwan’s Startup Terrace and the Slovak Business Agency, National Sun Yat-sen University, and the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava.
The MoUs were signed during the second session of the Taiwanese-Slovak Commission on Economic Cooperation, which was attended by a Taiwanese delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Tsai Ming-yen. During the meeting, Tsai and Peter Gerhart, Slovak State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, discussed ways to expand bilaterally.