Singapore boosts its AI aspirations with a $740 million investment strategy

Singapore is set to invest over $743 million in artificial intelligence (AI) in the coming five years, a move that could enhance its reputation as a leading hub for business and innovation, according to technology leaders.

During his Budget announcement on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong revealed that Singapore aims to channel more than 1 billion Singapore dollars into augmenting the nation’s AI expertise over the next five years.

Nithin Chandra, the managing partner for Southeast Asia at global management consultancy Kearney, noted that a significant portion of business leaders worldwide feel underprepared for AI integration, citing constraints in time, resources, and finances. He believes Singapore’s initiative will allow companies to leverage technological progress and seize new opportunities.

The investment strategy includes securing essential advanced chips crucial for AI’s growth and collaboration with prominent firms to establish AI centers of excellence, enhancing innovation, Wong mentioned.

Jonathon Dixon, APAC vice president and managing director at Cloudflare, emphasized that this initiative would motivate companies to embrace AI, enhance their workforce’s AI proficiency, and foster strategic industry partnerships, thereby boosting innovation.

According to a LinkedIn report, Singaporean workers lead globally in adopting AI skills. Mao Gen Foo, head of Southeast Asia at Qualtrics, highlighted the importance of concentrating on AI for Singapore to solidify its status as an innovation and business center.

Since launching its first AI blueprint in 2019 and updating it with the National AI Strategy 2.0 in December, Singapore has been at the forefront of preparing its economy to exploit AI for the benefit of workers and businesses, as noted by Pannie Sia, general manager of ASEAN at Workday.

Singapore’s innovative ecosystem positions it as a potential global AI stronghold, as stated by Google Cloud’s Caroline Yap in an interview with CNBC.

On the AI governance front, Singapore introduced AI Verify in May 2022, the first AI governance testing framework and toolkit globally, enabling companies to test their AI models and ensure responsible usage. Tech giants like Google, Meta, and Microsoft have engaged with or provided input on AI Verify.

Sujith Abraham, senior vice president and general manager of ASEAN at Salesforce, commended the SG$1 billion investment in AI, including the implementation of the National AI Strategy 2.0, as a testament to Singapore’s dedication to creating a reliable and ethical AI ecosystem. He underscored the importance of ensuring data security and the beneficial use of technology as AI adoption increases.