150 more AI solutions: Singapore government expands Gen AI partnership with Google
By Yogesh Hirdaramani
In partnership with Google Cloud, the Singapore government has announced several new initiatives to drive generative AI adoption in Singapore, support AI startups, and train AI talent, following their ambitious 100 solutions in 100 days programme.
Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information with Google executives, and participating organisations of the AI Trailblazers initiative. Image: Google Cloud
“When we started, we wanted to be able to see 100 projects within 100 days. That was achieved easily as we had no problem getting 100 projects,” said Minister Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information.
“The next question you ask – are the projects able to become Minimum Viable Products (MVP)? And the answer is, yes. In fact, in the short period of just about six months, 46 of them have in fact built MVPs.”
She was speaking on 29 January at a summit hosted by Google Asia Pacific campus, which saw 43 organisations graduating from AI Trailblazers after having successfully built their own generative AI solutions, with 22 more continuing to refine their solutions.
The first run of AI Trailblazers saw 84 organisations from both the public and the private sector tackle over 100 generative AI solutions through access to Singapore’s first generative AI innovation sandboxes, which provided access to Google’s unified AI stack, consisting of its Vertex AI platform, foundation models, and low-code developer tools.
“The initiative was part of a programmatic and intentional approach that Google Cloud is undertaking with the Singapore government… which aims to drive awareness and adoption of generative AI at a scale that uplifts people and businesses and transforms the entire economy,” said Mr Mark Micallef, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Google Cloud, in his remarks.
At the event, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and Google announced several new initiatives as part of their strategic collaboration.
150 more solutions as part of AI Trailblazers 2.0
Building on the progress of AI Trailblazers, the 2.0 initiative will be expanded to support 150 more organisations in building generative AI solutions to address real-world challenges, announced Google, MCI, Digital Industry Singapore and the Smart Nation Group at the event.
AI Trailblazers 2.0 will feature enhanced innovation sandboxes that will give participating organisations access to Gemini, Google’s most advanced multimodal large language model – which can understand and combine not just text, but images, audios, videos, and code – as well as Duet AI for developers, an AI-powered app development assistant.
As part of Google’s stated goal of supporting startups, the tech giant also launched an accelerator programme designed to support AI startups in partnership with EnterpriseSG. The Google for Startups Accelerator aims to cultivate 100 high-potential AI startups over the next three years, with applications open for the first cohort of 20 startups to join the first three-month programme commencing in April 2024.
Participants will receive access to Google Cloud’s unified AI stack, mentorship and technical support, as well as the opportunity to connect with potential investors and corporate customers at a Demo Day.
To support AI skilling efforts in Singapore, the company is extending an additional 3,000 Google Career Certificate scholarships to local training institutions, which aim to support mid-career professionals upskilling in fields such as data analytics and cybersecurity.
Google is also partnering with Nanyang Polytechnic to offer advanced industry training programmes within the institute’s core curriculum for full-time diploma students within its School of Information Technology, including courses on training, building, and deploying AI solutions.
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Generative AI solutions built within government
Public sector organisations were among the many that participated within the first run of AI Trailblazers and a few up-and-coming proof of concepts were showcased at the ExploreAI session.
For example, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has built a chatbot that helps non-technical users easily retrieve information from the National Economic Research and Visualisation Engine (NERVE), a data hub that provides economic data to public officers.
“We hope to engage more users to use more data confidently so that we can also drive our data-driven policymaking,” said Mr. Kuhan Harichandra, Director of the Digitalization Office at MTI to the media, on the “Ask NERVE Anything” chatbot.
Meanwhile, Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) has developed an automated course content creation, NYP Course AutoBot, that helps academic staff curate content for courses based on inputs like course synopses and desired learning outcomes, thereby reducing time required to develop courses by up to 30 per cent. Such content ranges from lesson plans, assignments, and even quizzes.
“We embrace a human-in-the-loop approach, meaning that our lecturers are still involved in every stage of the process. They review, refine, and meticulously enhance the content,” said Ms Tan Soon Keow, Director of the School of Information Technology at NYP to the media.
The People’s Association has developed its own chatbot that allows a user to quickly find facility options like badminton courts at community centres, named the onePA Facilities Booking Recommender.
“With the government using AI to improve our core business of serving the public, the Google AI Trailblazer program has not only exposed our officers to the possibilities of AI, but has given them hands-on experience in developing quick prototypes to be able to solve their everyday problems,” said Weng Wanyi, Director of the National AI Office at the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, in a promotional video played at the summit.