#Asia Singapore bridges academia and entrepreneurship to boost AI, machine learning, robotics

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SGInnovate launch event

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (center) at the SGInnovate launch event. Photo credit: SGInnovate.

SGInnovate, the latest technology and entrepreneurship initiative by the Singapore government, officially launched today. It had been unveiled in March as part of the 2016 budget announcement.

SGInnovate bills itself as a startup in its own right, aiming to be nimble, to move fast, and to adapt to the market’s needs, according to CEO Steve Leonard.

More of our research has to translate to commercial output.

Wholly owned by the Singapore government and under the purview of the National Research Foundation, SGInnovate grew out of Infocomm Investments, the investment arm of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).

Steve was previously executive deputy chairman for the IDA, which has now fused with the Media Development Authority to form IMDA. IMDA itself had its official launch last month.

So it’s another government agency that’s promoting entrepreneurship in Singapore – but hey, at least it’s not another acronym! What’s this one about then?

Building networks

SGInnovate’s focus will be on “deep tech” – things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, digital manufacturing, robotics, digital health, and more.

“Singapore has a great legacy for research in deep tech,” Steve says. He thinks the country doesn’t lack for original ideas and expertise, but needs ways to create value from them.

We work with people that have great ambition, but not a team or an idea.

Singapore’s deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who officiated the launch, said the country needs to harness the potential of its research sector. “Our research efforts have gained international recognition. However, more of our research has to translate to commercial output,” he said during the event.

SGInnovate has a new space in the city center, hosting engineers and teams from players like Nvidia, SMART (Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology), and McLaren Applied Technologies (an offshoot of British supercar maker and F1 team McLaren).

It’s also the new home for Entrepreneur First, a UK-born incubation program that matches ideas people with entrepreneurs to build new businesses, which partnered with Infocomm Investments in January.

These partners will connect with institutions like the National University of Singapore and the Singapore University of Technology and Design. The goal is to cross-pollinate the commercial and industry side with academics and researchers to drive innovation in deep tech.

This means SGInnovate’s scope will be broad and adaptable. “We are going to work hard to resist specific tags,” Steve tells Tech in Asia.

“We work with people that have great ambition, but not a team or an idea. In that sense, we’re an incubator. We work with people that have an idea, and maybe a minimum product, but need more funding or more support. In that sense we may be an accelerator. Sometimes we just work with people who want to learn new skills. So in that sense, we’re educational. Our goal is to just do things that support the growth of entrepreneurship from Singapore,” he explains.

This post Singapore bridges academia and entrepreneurship to boost AI, machine learning, robotics appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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