We continue our look at initiatives towards Smart Nation from the year gone by. (Click here for Part 1)
Government Technology Agency
The Government Technology Agency (GovTech) is responsible for driving digital transformation within the public sector. It harnesses the best info-communications technologies to make a difference to the everyday lives of people in Singapore.
In May, GovTech revealed that it has built an API exchange, called APEX, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance (MoF), to serve as a centralised data sharing platform for government agencies to share data conveniently and securely through the use of Application Programming Interfaces or APIs.
GovTech also rolled out a Whole-of-Government Application Analytics platform from June 2017. It provides a set of common metrics and measurements to enable public agencies to conduct real-time monitoring of the performance of their websites and digital services, conveniently and cost-effectively. It consists of a central dashboard, that depicts the overall health status of government websites and digital services and an analytics tool that can be embedded within agencies’ websites and digital services for personal tracking. No personal data will be tracked in the monitoring process.
GovTech has been developing the Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP), converting all 110,000 lamp posts in Singapore into an interconnected network of wireless sensors. SNSP will enable agencies to collect, analyse, and share data from sensors deployed island wide. Agencies can share common sensor communications backhaul and share the collected data to gain deeper insights. It would include a range of initiatives from smart metering in residential areas to provide consumers with timely information on their utility consumption to planning public transport using vehicular counting on a video analytics platform.
GovTech introduced a common hosting platform for government websites, called the Content Websites Platform (CWP), in October2016, to support the government agencies in improving the digital shopfront and the user experience.
The CWP is a common secured environment based on a resilient, robust and controlled platform which provides a suite of standardised software for hosting content-based websites. It enables unclassified government websites to be centrally managed and operated on public cloud, bringing the benefits of convenience, greater security, optimisation of resources, faster deployment speed and cost savings through economies of scale. Approximately 70% of government websites, around 380, had migrated to the CWP by October. The number was expected to increase to 400 by the end of the year.
In January 2017, MOF, Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and GovTech launched a one-stop portal for businesses to apply grants according to their needs without having to approach multiple agencies. The Business Grants Portal (BGP) is designed to route applications to the relevant agency based on user inputs, so businesses need not worry if they do not know which agency to approach for grant support. (Click here to read the OpenGov story on the development of the BGP using agile methodology.)
Together with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Housing & Development Board (HDB), GovTech developed the Parking.sg app to provide a quick and convenient way for motorists to pay digitally for short-term parking at coupon-based car parks. Initially available for cars, its use has been extended to motorcycles and heavy vehicles from December 20 onwards.
In November, GovTech launched the MyInfo Developer & Partner Portal as a next step towards building a vibrant ecosystem for the National Digital Identity (NDI). The Portal is set to speed up the process for businesses to tap on MyInfo to deliver citizen-centric and more intuitive services while reaping the benefits of improved efficiencies and potential cost savings.
MyInfo is a service for SingPass users to manage the use of their personal data when transacting online with participating government agencies and commercial entities. MyInfo users can skip filling in personal data repeatedly for every digital transaction, while enjoying greater convenience from producing fewer verification documents. MyInfo was extended to the banking sector in May 2017, with four banks piloting the use of MyInfo for opening of new bank accounts and application of credit cards. In September it was revealed that all SingPass users will have MyInfo profiles by December 2017.
Housing & Development Board
The Housing & Development Board (HDB) is a statutory board of the Ministry of National Development responsible for public housing in Singapore.
In June, HDB signed a MoU with the Imperial College London (ICL) and A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) to embark on 4-year SG$5.3 million research programme to study how sensors and sensor networks can be enhanced to make data collection more efficient and reliable for the monitoring and analysis of estate-level services such as lifts, water pumps, and lighting.
There are three key facets of the research programme. The first is the development of new Smart Sensors and improvement in design, operation and maintenance of sensor networks. Secondly, the research will look into aggregation of large amounts of municipal data from multiple sources. The third facet is strengthening capabilities in predictive analytics for more efficient estate maintenance.
HDB is also looking to develop smart applications to bring residents closer together and to empower them to take greater ownership of their community. For instance, applications could be developed through gamification to promote community bonding.
In September, HDB , signed two new research and development (R&D) agreements with the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).
A S$4.7 million collaboration with NTU aims to develop a Smart Integrated Construction System (SICS). Another S$6 million Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with SUTD to embark on a study called the New Urban Kampung research programme. The study will adopt cutting-edge modelling tools to analyse shifts in socio-demographic factors, and create new housing solutions in line with residents’ evolving needs and aspirations.
In October, HDB announced the launch of a new streamlined resale transaction process for public housing through a new HDB resale portal from January 1, 2018. The entire transaction time, from submission to completion of the resale application, will be shortened by up to 8 weeks from 16 weeks previously, if the buyers and sellers submit the necessary documents promptly. The portal will minimise the need for manual entry of data and all eligibility checks will be integrated on a single platform.
Integrated Health Information Systems
Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) is the technology agency for Singapore;s public healthcare system. It digitises, connects, and analyses Singapore’s health ecosystem.
In May, the Minister for Health, Mr. Gan Kim Yong, revealed the strategic Health IT Master Plan (HITMAP) that has been guiding the healthcare sector’s IT programmes since 2014. With seven transformation programmes, the strategic HITMAP enables the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) three key shifts of moving beyond quality to value, beyond hospital to community, and beyond healthcare to health. It also supports policy formulation and evaluation, systems governance, public health and operations management, as well as strengthens IT resiliency and improves cost effectiveness. New projects such as the admissions prevention predictive model for the Ministry’s Hospital to Home Programme, Health Marketplace, and Vital Signs Monitoring were also unveiled.
In April, IHiS announced the implementation of a Smart Health Video Consultation (SHVC) for healthcare, which enables patients to consult healthcare professionals online from anywhere. Video consultation is used in most countries to extend healthcare to patients in remote locations. Though that is not a significant concern in Singapore, telehealth technologies still offer an opportunity to improve patient service, support collaborations between healthcare professionals across locations, and improve overall productivity of the healthcare system.
IHiS rolled out a national pilot for Smart Health TeleRehab (SHTR) in May, so that patients who need rehabilitation therapy services can undergo their rehabilitation exercises at a time and location of their choice.
The Healthcare Industry Transformation Map (ITM) was launched in November, setting out strategies to deal with the challenges of an ageing population and rising chronic disease incidence. Under the ITM, the use of cost-effective technology and assistive equipment will also be scaled up to make work easier, especially for Singapore’s ageing workforce. MOH will introduce innovative and patient-centric solutions, and testbed them in new hospital developments. Examples include RFID technology to track patients in real time, virtual patient monitoring and smart logistics solutions to monitor and top up consumables and medication.
Soon afterwards, several support initiatives were announced to encourage healthcare licensees to contribute data to the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR). Over 4,000 licensees will be eligible for the support initiatives, which includes sharing of technical and clinical expertise through workshops and online resources, as well as financial support. Workshops and technical support would also be provided to IT vendors who provide clinic management or medical record software.
Implemented by IHiS, the support initiatives are part of larger efforts to achieve the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) “One Patient, One Health Record” vision to enhance continuity of care and patient safety, especially during emergencies.
Infocomm Media Development Authority
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is a statutory board under the Ministry of Communications and Information. It develops and regulates the converging infocomm and media sectors in a holistic way, creating a dynamic and exciting sector filled with opportunities for growth, through an emphasis on talent, research, innovation and enterprise.
IMDA rolled out the SMEs Go Digital Programme in April 2017 to help SMEs in the adoption and use of digital technology to boost their productivity and build their digital capability. This is done by IMDA creating a list of pre-approved digital solutions for SMEs, which provide reliable and proven tech and services. During the first two months itself, over 100 SMEs adopted 24 pre-approved digital solutions, amounting to a combined project value of SG$2.4 million.
On November 5, IMDA released the ITM for the Infocomm Media sector, which outlines the strategies to prepare Singapore for the digital economy. The ITM aims to grow the ICM industry’s value-add by around 6% annually.
The ICM ITM will prepare Singapore for the digital economy through three thrusts. The first is to invest and build capabilities in four frontier technologies, namely Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics; Cybersecurity; Immersive Media and Internet of Things (IoT). The second thrust is to strengthen the core of the ICM sector, and prepare the next generation of ICM professionals and companies for future job roles and business opportunities. The third is to guide companies and workforce from the other sectors in adopting digital technology to improve productivity and efficiency.
At the launch, IMDA also revealed that it is working with various sector lead agencies to develop the Industry Digital Plans (IDPs) for SMEs. The Retail IDP was announced to provide step-by-step advice to SME retailers in their digitalisation journey.
IMDA also announced that it will work with IMDA will work with AI Singapore to develop the AI ecosystem and make AI an enabler for growth and jobs. An AI Business Partnership Programme will help match business requirements with the appropriate solutions, as part of which IMDA will also conduct workshops where AI solutions providers will share their technologies with interested companies from the relevant sectors. An AI Apprenticeship Programme will help grow a pipeline of locally-grown, globally known AI-ready professionals.
Libraries of open AI assets will be created, starting with a National Speech Corpus to facilitate development of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technologies. The availability of AI solutions via SMEs Go Digital will be widened.
IMDA has also re-branded its Accreditation@IMDA programme as “Accreditation@SG Digital”. Accreditation@IMDA was launched in July 2014 to help promising Singapore-based tech product companies to win projects, grow and compete in the global market. Being accredited opens up more opportunities for their products and solutions to be showcased and commercialised. As of end October 2017, 23 companies had been accredited in areas such as video analytics, data analytics, robotics and energy management. IMDA aims to expand the pool of accredited companies beyond start-ups and young SMEs to include later stage SMEs and deep technology foreign companies. Accreditation@SGD will work with various agencies and enterprises to supply relevant accredited companies to support the implementation of their Industry Transformation Maps.
Digital inclusion is a key aspect of Singapores’s Smart Nation drive. In June, IMDA launched the IM Silver Portal (www.IMSilver.sg) as part of its continued efforts to ensure that older citizens are able to benefit from digital technologies. It serves as a one-stop online infocomm learning resource for senior citizens, offering them access to online guides, ebooks, videos and seminars.
Intellectual Property Office of Singapore
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is a statutory board under the Ministry of Law. The agency uses its IP expertise and networks to drive Singapore’s future growth.
(In a recent interview with OpenGov, Mr. Daren Tang, Chief Executive of IPOS, talked about how IPOS is transforming itself from an IP from registry and regulator to builder of Singapore’s innovation ecosystem.)
In line with the recommendation of the Committee On the Future Economy (CFE) report released early in 2017 to strengthen Singapore’s innovation ecosystem and build capabilities to help enterprises innovate and scale up, IPOS announced a series of initiatives in August.
IPOS and home-grown private equity firm, Makara Capital launched a S$1 billion fund to help innovators and enterprises translate their ideas into assets and support their expansion into world markets using Singapore as a base. The fund made its first investment of S$70 million in regional TelcoTech player, MyRepublic in November.
The IP Hub Master Plan, released in 2013 to develop Singapore as a global IP hub in Asia for IP Transactions and Management, Quality IP Filings and IP Dispute Resolution, was updated to address gaps in the areas of IP creation, protection and commercialisation, along the verticals of expertise, regime and marketplace.
IPOS signed a MoU with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to collaborate in driving enterprise growth through IP and innovation. The MoU will help SBF’s 25,000 member companies to build IP awareness and competencies. They will also gain direct access to IPOS’ suite of IP services, such as training, executive education and complimentary IP clinics.
Plans were announced for collaboration between IP ValueLab, the enterprise engagement arm of IPOS and EverEdge Global Ltd, an international IP management consultancy firm.
International Enterprise Singapore
International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), is a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It is the government agency that promotes international trade and partners Singapore companies to go global.
In October, the Wholesale Trade ITM was unveiled. The ITM will help companies digitalise to enhance global growth and productivity, and targets to create 10,000 new jobs by 2020. The ITM includes plans to accelerate global trade connectivity, facilitating and capturing value from e-commerce trade flows, as well as increasing SMEs’ market access and productivity through digital marketplaces and platforms.
Key initiatives in this area include the ASEAN Digital Trade Facilitation Platform and a Cross Border Cognitive Supply Chain Solution. The former, led by Singapore Logistics Association (SLA) and in partnership with GeTS Global (Global e-Trade Services) is expected to be ready in Q4 2017.
Traders can also look forward to the National Trade Platform in 2018, when freight management and trade financing services will be integrated as part of the platform from Singapore Customs to improve cross-border trade processes.
The Government will also work with trade associations and private enterprises to help SMEs list on digital marketplaces.
In July, IE Singapore announced the launch of its Plug and Play Network to provide support in business advisory services, business matching and market set-up via co-working spaces in over 45 major cities in 6 key markets across India, China and Southeast Asia. This is to ease market entry for SMEs by helping them find suitable business partners and contacts and supporting them in navigating unfamiliar markets.
Previously, in August, IE Singapore and Ascendas-Singbridge launched the Singapore Manufacturing Innovation Centre (SMIC) in Guangzhou, a one-stop shop to facilitate partnerships between Singapore Industry 4.0.
In November, the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) (Beijing) was launched in Beijing, China. The GIA was a key recommendation in the CFE report. Led by IE Singapore, the GIA (Beijing) effort strengthens connections between Singapore technology companies, entrepreneurs and investors within China’s established digital ecosystem of accelerators, incubators, tech giants, start-ups and venture capitalist funds.
In October, IE Singapore entered into partnerships with AIRMaker (accelerator), NTUitive (enterprise arm of Nanyang Technological University) and 36Kr (top Chinese media platform) with the aim to provide support to startups, through accelerator programmes customised to help tech companies understand the market, test-bed their products, as well as partner with Chinese companies to implement solutions.
In November, IE Singapore signed a MoU with the Gyeonggi Provincial Government of South Korea. Gyeonggi is Korea’s centre of high-tech industries and hosts many world-class companies including Hyundai, Samsung, and SK Group. This MOU is expected to boost collaboration in technology start-ups, wholesale distribution and logistics.
It was announced in September, that SPRING Singapore and IE Singapore, which are both statutory boards under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, would be merged to form a new government agency called Enterprise Singapore. SPRING is responsible for helping Singapore enterprises grow. SPRING’s focus is local, while IE Singapore’s focus is on international expansion. The consolidated agency will integrate its knowledge of industries with its network of local and overseas partners, to comprehensively support Singapore’s enterprises in their efforts to innovate and internationalise.
Part 1 – Agency for Science, Technology and Research; Building and Construction Authority; Economic Development Board; Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport Group; Cyber Security Agency
Part 3 – Land Transport Authority; Monetary Authority of Singapore; Ministry of Home Affairs; National Environment Agency; National Research Foundation; SkillsFuture Singapore/ Workforce Singapore; SGInnovate
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan recently addressed the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit, shedding light on Singapore’s unique relationship with the oceans and its proactive approach to addressing the challenges nowadays. He highlighted the significance of the digitalisation of the maritime sector as a critical component in fostering sustainability.
Singapore’s history, culture, and economy are inextricably intertwined with its maritime surroundings. This small but dynamic city-state relies heavily on maritime trade, with a trading volume that is three times its GDP. This unique ratio underscores the vital importance of maritime routes and the sea itself to Singapore’s prosperity and well-being.
Minister Vivian highlighted the global movement toward the decarbonisation and digitalisation of the maritime sector as a significant opportunity. According to him, the shipping industry is a substantial contributor to carbon emissions, releasing one billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually. However, there is immense potential for abatement through innovative strategies.
One such strategy involves the establishment of green and digitally empowered shipping corridors, such as the partnership between the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore, the Port of Los Angeles, and the Port of Long Beach.
This corridor, initiated in April 2023, is part of the green shipping challenge, jointly launched by the United States and Norway. These corridors serve as vital nodes in the transition to lower and zero-emission fuels for ships, creating growth opportunities for businesses and promoting low-emission technologies in maritime port operations.
Minister Vivian added that the decarbonisation and digitalisation of the maritime sector represent a profound transformation that goes beyond mere industry trends; they are significant opportunities that can revolutionise the way shipping and maritime operations are conducted. These two interrelated processes are not just advantageous; they are pivotal in shaping the future of the maritime industry and addressing some of its most pressing challenges.
The synergy between decarbonisation and digitalisation holds great promise, with each complementing the other to produce amplified benefits. One of the key advantages of this partnership lies in the realm of data-driven decarbonisation. Digital tools and technologies offer the means to collect, analyse, and interpret vast amounts of data related to energy consumption, emissions, and environmental impact.
This data serves as the foundation for informed decision-making regarding the implementation and effectiveness of decarbonisation measures. By leveraging digital resources, organisations can ensure that their efforts are both cost-effective and environmentally impactful, directing resources where they are needed most while minimising wastage.
Besides, the fusion of decarbonisation and digitalisation leads to the concept of continuous improvement. Digital analytics tools excel in identifying areas where further decarbonisation efforts can be deployed. This iterative process creates a feedback loop that is indispensable in an industry marked by rapid technological advancements and changing environmental regulations.
In addition, Minister Vivian stressed the importance of international law in guiding the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) plays a pivotal role in this regard, providing a comprehensive legal framework for all activities in oceans and seas. Recent accomplishments, such as the “Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction” (BBNJ) treaty, represent significant milestones in global ocean governance.
The Minister is calling for collective commitment and collaboration across public, private, and civic sectors to create a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable world. “As we navigate the digital seas of the future, Singapore stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all who share a commitment to safeguarding our oceans and securing a brighter tomorrow,” he concludes.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) and the Hospital Authority (HA) have joined forces to create the HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab, set to launch in October 2023 at Hong Kong Science Park. The facility will grant over 1,400 Park companies and their partners direct access to de-identified clinical data sourced from HA’s extensive patient database, comprising around 200,000 patient records.
The lab will be the first portal of its kind, offering non-academic research and development (R&D) access to HA’s data, opening up exciting opportunities for the tech industry to leverage clinical data for groundbreaking biomedical and healthcare innovations.
HKSTP’s CEO highlighted the lab’s transformative potential within the innovation and technology (I&T) ecosystem. He highlighted how seamless data collaboration between hospitals, academia, and industry will drive Hong Kong’s healthcare transformation and digital economy aspirations. The lab is expected to catalyse the development of breakthrough technologies by Park companies, aimed at positively impacting global lives.
The Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority underscored the significance of this partnership in facilitating industry access to clinical data and fostering collaboration and innovation. It aligns with the shared goal of accelerating healthcare transformation and enhancing healthcare quality across Hong Kong.
The HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab, situated in Building 19W of Hong Kong Science Park, will provide robust infrastructure, enabling exclusive access to HA’s Self-service Data Platform. This platform encompasses clinical data from a randomly selected group of 200,000 patients spanning 2007 to 2017, categorised by age and gender. The data covers various aspects, from patient demographics and hospital/clinic attendance records to clinical diagnoses, procedures, medication records, and laboratory/radiology results.
Data security and privacy are paramount, with HKSTP implementing rigorous measures. These include on-site personnel, surveillance systems, an isolated network, and restrictions preventing data download, saving, or printing. Additionally, all personal information is anonymised in the database. Governance committees, namely the HKSTP Clinical Research Ethics Committee and the Data Governance Committee, ensure compliance with data protection, privacy, and clinical research ethics.
The official launch of the HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab is scheduled for October 2023, following a pilot phase. During this time, all 1,400+ HKSTP Park companies (primarily in biotech and healthcare), their partners, and academic researchers can apply for access, with each application granting a five-day exploration window.
This collaboration stems from Hong Kong’s 2021 Policy Address, which tasked HKSTP and HA with promoting enhanced collaboration and data sharing between the R&D and healthcare sectors. The Self-service Data Platform was initially restricted to academic research and publications at select secure locations.
The establishment of the HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab at Hong Kong Science Park marks a significant milestone in HKSTP’s journey to strengthen collaboration across government, industry, academia, and research sectors, positioning Hong Kong as a global I&T hub.
The establishment of the HKSTP HA Data Collaboration Lab aligns with the goals of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, as outlined in its policies and initiatives. One of the central objectives of the HKSAR government is to transform Hong Kong into an international innovation and technology (I&T) hub.
This initiative aims to foster collaboration between government, industry, academia, and research sectors to boost technological advancements and economic growth. The lab directly supports this goal by facilitating seamless data sharing between the healthcare and tech sectors, driving innovation, and advancing healthcare quality—a key component of the HKSAR government’s vision for a thriving and competitive knowledge-based economy.
OpenGov Asia reported on the Chief Executive of Hong Kong’s 2021 Policy Address which aimed to bolster the development of innovation and technology (I&T) to transform Hong Kong into an international I&T hub. The CE had noted, before delivering her final Policy Address, that the address would focus on economic integration with the Chinese mainland, housing and land supply, and resumption of quarantine-free travel with the mainland.
The upgrade of the Vietnam-US bilateral relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership has created opportunities for Vietnam to attract more high-quality investments in the fields of innovation and advanced technology.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh recently attended a meeting with chief executive officers of leading United States enterprises in the semiconductor industry in Washington DC. According to a report, American business representatives spoke highly of Vietnam’s semiconductor industry’s potential, noting the presence of high-quality human resources and the continuously advancing capabilities of local enterprises and training establishments in the country.
They believed that the possibility for cooperation between the two countries in the semiconductor industry is substantial and holds great significance for the development of bilateral relations in the new era. During the meeting, participants explored investment prospects in Vietnam and put forth collaborative strategies to nurture a semiconductor ecosystem. They suggested that in the long run, American companies could consider establishing chip factories in Vietnam.
The Prime Minister urged the United States semiconductor enterprises to increase their investment in Vietnam across all stages of the semiconductor industry, including infrastructure development, technology transfer, design, production, distribution, and manpower training. The collaboration should involve businesses, research institutions, and training establishments from both countries.
This approach will pave the way for enhancing the quality of human resources and the capabilities of Vietnamese companies, enabling the country to further engage in the value and supply chains of the global semiconductor industry.
Developing Vietnam’s semiconductor industry aligns with the current global trend and harnesses the potential and resources available in the country. Moreover, it brings about tangible benefits for people, therefore, the Minister noted that Vietnamese citizens will actively participate and contribute to the process.
He claimed that the government and relevant ministries and sectors are committed to creating an equal and healthy business environment. They will offer optimal conditions for foreign enterprises, including United States semiconductor companies, to operate in Vietnam stably, effectively, and sustainably.
At the event, three significant memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed by Vietnam’s National Innovation Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MoPI) with American partners. The agreements aim to bolster design capabilities, advance product development, and enhance the training of human resources dedicated to the semiconductor industry.
One of these MoUs signed with an electronic design automation company, is geared towards providing support for the establishment of a chip design incubation centre. The second agreement was formulated to foster the growth of Vietnam’s semiconductor and electronics sector. Within this partnership, NIC will offer Vietnamese universities, training centres, and startups the necessary technology and training programmes to design and develop semiconductor products.
Under the third agreement, NIC will work with an American university to engage with Vietnamese research institutes and educational organisations to develop training programmes and share research in the domains of semiconductors and related fields. Additionally, they will actively seek and leverage appropriate sources of funding to enhance the capacity of the workforce in the semiconductor industry.
Founded in 2019, NIC supports and develops Vietnam’s startup and innovation ecosystem. Its mission is to modernise the country’s economic growth model by harnessing the power of science and technology. In October, NIC will inaugurate its new research centre located in the Hoa Lac High-Tech Park in Hanoi. This facility will include a chip design incubation centre equipped with cutting-edge technologies from key partners of NIC.
Breakthrough Victoria has unveiled investment partnerships totalling AU$ 87 million with five universities, geared toward facilitating the transition of transformative research from the laboratory to the marketplace. Swinburne University of Technology is set to co-invest AU$ 9 million, a sum reciprocated by Breakthrough Victoria, aimed at fostering the creation of novel ventures that will accelerate the commercialisation of research endeavours. This investment bolsters Swinburne University of Technology’s capacity to propel innovation and instils confidence among its researchers that their pioneering ideas can be translated into tangible realities.
Under these partnerships, each entity will funnel investments into startup companies originating from research initiatives, with pre-seed and seed funding capacities of up to AU$ 1 million per venture.
The official announcement was made by the Minister of Industry and Innovation during the inauguration of the Global Entrepreneurship Conference in Melbourne, a gathering that drew more than 4,000 investors and entrepreneurs from across the globe.
These alliances are being established as part of the ambitious AU$100 million Breakthrough Victoria – University Innovation Platform which was designed to elevate the level of commercialisation of pivotal research, characterised by its real-world applicability and benefits from Victorian universities.
The capital injections into startups during this critical nascent stage will serve as pivotal financial support, facilitating the development of product concepts, prototypes, and trials that are essential for research with strong commercial viability. Moreover, researchers and academics will receive dedicated support to enhance their ability to identify and effectively translate innovative ideas into commercially viable opportunities, thereby augmenting their entrepreneurial capabilities. The specifics of these partnership agreements have been tailored in collaboration with each respective university, thereby addressing the unique needs and the specific stage of their research commercialisation journey.
The co-investment partnership is expected to fuel innovation across a spectrum of industries, with a particular focus on aerospace, healthcare, sustainability, and manufacturing. These sectors, all intricately linked with technology, stand to benefit significantly from the injection of capital into startups that are on the cusp of technological breakthroughs. Such investments will not only drive product development but also foster technological advancement and drive economic growth.
One of the key benefits of this collaboration is the ability to transform research concepts into tangible products and services. Often, groundbreaking research remains confined to the academic realm due to a lack of resources for development and commercialisation.
However, with this co-investment initiative, researchers will have access to the funding necessary to bring their ideas to life. This is particularly relevant in the tech sector, where rapid innovation is critical, and timely investment can be the difference between an idea’s success and its stagnation.
Furthermore, this initiative acknowledges the pivotal role that universities play in fostering innovation. Universities are often hubs of research and development, where cutting-edge ideas are born. However, bridging the gap between academic research and commercial viability can be challenging.
With the partnership between Swinburne University of Technology and Breakthrough Victoria, there is a concerted effort to facilitate this transition. This not only benefits the university but also the broader tech ecosystem by ensuring that innovative ideas reach the market.
Moreover, the support provided to researchers and academics to enhance their entrepreneurial capabilities is a crucial aspect of this initiative. In the tech sector, it’s not just about having a great idea; it’s also about understanding how to bring that idea to market successfully.
This includes aspects like intellectual property management, market research, and business development strategies. The co-designed partnership agreements consider the specific needs and stage of research commercialisation, ensuring that the support provided is tailored to maximise the chances of success, especially in tech-related ventures.
The new Centre for Paramedicine, housed within the dedicated capability hub at Victoria University in Sunshine, is a testament to the commitment of the government to provide top-notch training for paramedics, OpenGov Asia earlier reported.
The Minister for Ambulance Services inaugurated the pioneering capability hub, a first of its kind in Australia. During the event, she met a group of 54 recently graduated paramedics who will receive training at the hub before embarking on their missions to provide essential care to the people of Victoria.
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is at the forefront of transforming the boundaries of digital reality, promising to take simplicity and turn it into complexity through the creation of patterns in images, sounds, and text. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) have delved deep into this realm, introducing an innovative AI model that bridges the gap between two unrelated physical principles: diffusion and Poisson Flow. Their work has led to the development of the “Poisson Flow Generative Model ++” (PFGM++), which is poised to redefine digital content creation across various applications.
The PFGM++ model represents a leap in generative AI, offering the capabilities to generate a wide range of content, from images to audio. Its potential applications span from the creation of antibodies and RNA sequences to graph generation. At its core, PFGM++ extends the foundation of the Poisson equation, a concept from physics, to enhance its data exploration and generation capabilities. This breakthrough underscores the power of interdisciplinary collaboration between physicists and computer scientists in advancing the field of AI, as highlighted by Jesse Thaler, a physicist at MIT.
Thaler emphasises the remarkable progress achieved by AI-based generative models in recent years. These models have generated photorealistic images and coherent textual content, challenging the boundaries of artificial intelligence. Notably, some of these powerful generative models draw inspiration from well-established physics concepts such as symmetries and thermodynamics. PFGM++ builds upon a century-old notion from fundamental physics—the existence of extra dimensions in space-time – and transforms it into a versatile tool for crafting synthetic yet authentic datasets. The infusion of ‘physics intelligence’ is revolutionising the landscape of AI.
In the PFGM model, data points take on the role of minuscule electric charges within a multidimensional space, shaping an electric field that extends into an extra dimension, ultimately forming a uniform distribution.
This process is akin to rewinding a video, starting with charges and retracing their path along electric lines to recreate the original data distribution. This process enables the neural model to grasp the electric field concept and generate new data that mirrors the original.
The PFGM++ model takes this concept further by expanding it into a higher-dimensional framework. As these dimensions continue to grow, the model’s behaviour unexpectedly begins to resemble another crucial category of models known as diffusion models. This work aims to strike a balance, as PFGM and diffusion models occupy opposite ends of a spectrum: one is robust yet complex to handle, while the other is simpler but less sturdy. The PFGM++ model introduces a balanced middle ground, combining robustness with user-friendliness, revolutionising image and pattern generation and marking a significant technological advancement.
In addition to its adaptable dimensions, the research team has proposed a novel training approach that enhances the model’s understanding of the electric field, further boosting its efficiency.
To bring this concept further, the research team tackled a pair of differential equations detailing these charges’ motion within the electric field. They evaluated the model’s performance using the widely accepted Frechet Inception Distance (FID) score, which assesses the quality of generated images compared to real ones. PFGM++ excelled in demonstrating enhanced error tolerance and resilience regarding the step size within the differential equations, solidifying its position as a game-changer in the realm of AI-generated content.
In the future, the researchers are committed to refining specific aspects of the model through systematic approaches. They aim to identify the optimal value of D, customised for distinct data sets, architectures, and tasks, by closely analysing the behaviour of neural network estimation errors. Moreover, they plan to leverage PFGM++ in contemporary large-scale endeavours, particularly in text-to-image and text-to-video generation.
MIT’s PFGM++ stands at the forefront of a digital content revolution, bridging the gap between AI and reality. By integrating physics principles and advanced AI techniques, this innovative model promises to reshape the way we create digital content, opening up new horizons for creativity and application across various industries.
According to Dr Juanito Batalon, OIC, Office of the Executive Director for Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), digitalisation in the Philippines’ agricultural sector ushers in a new era of innovation and efficiency.
“Due to the nation’s reliance on agriculture for food security and livelihoods, the incorporation of digital technologies is transforming the way agriculture is practised,” Dr Juanito explained.
Precision agriculture is one of the primary areas that will benefit from digitisation. Farmers are optimising agricultural planting, irrigation, and pest management by employing GPS technology, drones, and satellite imagery. This not only enhances crop yields but also saves resources and has a lower environmental impact.
Dr Juanito emphasised that precise farming methods like drip irrigation and controlled-release fertilisers reduce waste, save water, and have less of an effect on the environment. Farmers can also get information about market prices and trends through digital platforms. This helps them make smart choices about how to sell their crops, which increases their profits.
He highlights the Project SARAi, a research programme designed to deliver important information to local farmers in order to improve their yield. He has explained that SARAi specifically supports farmers by informing them about the weather, what crops they should plant for the season, what soil type they should employ to optimise crop quality and yield, and what pests and illnesses their crops are prone to.
He added that the project team also created drones that allowed them to see if their crops were still healthy or if they needed extra attention. With SARAi’s continual innovation, they were able to use satellites to estimate rainfall for the week, as well as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to find farmlands that cater to various crops.
Dr Juanito also stressed that they are actively promoting the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture to improve productivity and sustainability citing that the DOST-PCAARRD has been involved in various initiatives related to the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, in agriculture with the help of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Besides, digital solutions give farmers the real-time data they need to make smart, data-driven choices. This includes decisions about planting, harvesting, and getting rid of pests, all of which lead to better crop management in the long run.
Drones and sensors are also very helpful for keeping an eye on crops and finding diseases early, which lets farmers target their efforts and lower production losses. Besides these useful advantages, digital technology is also very important for rural development because it helps rural communities get training, education, and knowledge, which makes their lives better.
Also, blockchain technology makes it possible to track crops, which improves food safety and quality control and helps farmers adjust to changing weather conditions, eventually making Philippine agriculture more sustainable.
“Digital technology is changing the Philippines’ farming industry, which is good for food security, economic growth, and the environment,” Dr Juanito said.
Further, DOST Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr highlighted during the 9th Balik Scientist Programme Annual Convention the importance of addressing the brain drain in the Philippines and retaining scientific talent through various initiatives like the “Balik Scientist Programme.” It discusses the country’s increasing global innovation index and government spending on research and development.
The Balik Scientist Programme, recognised as a significant national initiative, is emphasised for bringing back diverse Filipino scientists to contribute to the nation’s growth. The programme focuses on harnessing global science for sustainable development and innovation including digitalisation, AI, and robotics among others that are tailored to local challenges.
The University of Wollongong (UoW) has received a financial boost from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to further support Indigenous students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. This significant contribution underscores a commitment to fostering Indigenous talent in the technology sector and ensuring a brighter future for these students.
The CSIRO Indigenous STEM Scholarship was initially established in 2019 with an initial gift of AU$ 30,000 from CSIRO. This initial funding aimed to support two Indigenous STEM students throughout their academic journeys. However, this commitment has now been elevated to an even more profound level. CSIRO has pledged an additional AU$ 500,000, ensuring that the scholarship will be awarded in perpetuity. This signifies a long-term partnership between CSIRO and UOW in nurturing and empowering Indigenous students in their pursuit of STEM education.
The primary objective of this partnership is to empower Indigenous students who are undertaking full-time degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics by providing financial support. Each year, one deserving student will be awarded AU$ 5,000 throughout the duration of their degree. This financial assistance not only eases the financial burden on the students but also allows them to fully concentrate on their academic and career goals within the tech and science sectors.
The 2021 recipient of the CSIRO Indigenous STEM Scholarship serves as an example of the positive impact of this initiative. The recipient noted that the financial assistance provided by the CSIRO scholarship allowed her to reduce her work commitments and allocate more time to engage in meaningful activities that can positively impact her career and well-being.
The Director of Indigenous Science and Engagement at CSIRO who is also a Gamillaroi man emphasised the importance of growing an Indigenous STEM pipeline, which not only benefits the science and technology sector but also the broader community. He noted that the development of an Indigenous STEM pipeline holds the potential to facilitate the engagement of the science and technology sector, with a particular focus on CSIRO, in integrating Indigenous talent, incorporating Indigenous knowledge and expertise, and nurturing successful careers in science and research for individuals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.
UOW’s Vice-Chancellor and President highlighted the critical role that STEM fields play in shaping the future of communities, economies, and nations and praised the power of philanthropy in enriching the lives of Indigenous students.
CSIRO scholarships will provide students with the opportunity to delve deeper into their STEM interests, which are crucial for the future of communities, the economy, and the nation, all while alleviating the burden of financial stress. She underscored the profound and positive influence of this substantial investment, paving the way for Indigenous students towards a promising and prosperous future in technology and science-related domains.
The Vice-President for Indigenous Strategy and Engagement and Director of Woolyungah Indigenous Centre at UOW celebrated the increased financial support from CSIRO, recognising the importance of nurturing Indigenous students’ interest in thriving STEM industries.
CSIRO’s collaboration with UOW will authentically empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to reach their full potential, address the significant challenges of the future, and emerge as leaders in STEM disciplines. Sustained partnerships and scholarship commitments will open tangible avenues for Indigenous students to engage with ongoing projects and research, ultimately influencing their communities and shaping the nation’s future.
This partnership between CSIRO and the University of Wollongong signifies a remarkable commitment to fostering Indigenous talent in STEM fields. The significant financial support provided by CSIRO not only eases the financial burden on Indigenous students but also empowers them to pursue their passions and become leaders in technology and science-related fields. This collaboration highlights the tech sector’s dedication to creating opportunities for Indigenous students and recognising the essential role of Indigenous knowledge in advancing STEM disciplines.
OpenGov Asia reported that New South Wales (NSW) is partnering with key stakeholders, including universities and businesses, to develop an Innovation Blueprint aimed at revitalising the state’s innovation sector. The backdrop for this initiative is the stagnation in university-industry collaboration and the lack of progress in commercialising research outcomes, as highlighted by the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council. Simultaneously, R&D intensity in the region has been declining, emphasising the need for strategic interventions.