Singapore announces funding for quantum, AI updates, and more

By Si Ying Thian

Five key announcements from Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)'s Asia Tech x Summit 2024 in Singapore, from quantum tech to sustainable data centre expansion.

The key question facing Singapore is how the country can capture the upsides of technology, while using it responsibly, said Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at the ATxSummit 2024. Image: Prime Minister's Office. Singapore.

At the opening ceremony of Asia Tech x Singapore (ATxSummit) this year, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the key question facing Singapore is how the country can capture the upsides of technology, while using it responsibly to benefit society.

DPM Heng said that although technology can be harnessed to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges, bad actors can exploit technology for their own ends.

His statement summed up the key announcements that were made by the Singapore government at ATxSummit, organised by Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA), which oversees digital economy efforts in the country.

GovInsider highlights the next milestones for Singapore’s digital transformation journey.

1.    Singapore building its own quantum computers 

The government will invest about S$300 million (US$222 million), through the National Research Foundation (NRF), over the next five years to develop and deploy quantum tech in Singapore. 

The new funding will support four initiatives. These include consolidating quantum research capabilities with one centre, translating research and development (R&D) into real-world solutions through industry partnerships, building Singapore’s own quantum processors, and talent development through a scholarship scheme.

This builds on the over S$400 million (US$296 million) that Singapore previously invested into quantum research over the last two decades, The Business Times reported.

Hosted at the government R&D facility, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the National Quantum Office (NQO) was launched to lead the national quantum strategy. 

2.    Updated GenAI governance principles 

IMDA has finalised the Model AI Governance Framework for Generative AI, after consultations with the public and private sector after the first draft was released in January.

The new framework expands on the existing Model AI Governance Framework for Traditional AI that was last revised in 2020.

Accounting for GenAI risks and concerns, the updated framework identifies nine key governance dimensions, including data, security, content provenance and more, to enable users to use the technology safely. 

The framework also “provided practical suggestions that model developers and policymakers could apply as initial steps,” stated its website.

The new framework can be accessed here on AI Verify Foundation’s website.

3.    Singapore, Rwanda partner on AI governance playbook for small states

Singapore and Rwanda will lead the development of an AI Governance Playbook for the Digital Forum of Small States (Digital FOSS), which is expected to be released at the end of this year.

“Tailored for small states, the playbook will address the challenges associated with the secure design, development, evaluation, and implementation of AI systems, taking into consideration the unique constraints that small states face,” according to the official press release.

The two parties will collaborate and consult with small state policymakers on the use of AI for the public good.

Two days before ATxSummit, Singapore facilitated an engagement session between Digital FOSS and UN Secretary-General's Artificial Intelligence Advisory Body (AIAB), where members exchanged views with AIAB members on implications and challenges faced by small states.

Founded by Singapore in 1992, Digital FOSS is an informal grouping of 108 small states at the UN.

4.    Green energy to support growth of data centres 

IMDA has launched the Green Data Centre (DC) Roadmap, which lays out plans to support energy-efficient data centre growth in Singapore by partnering with the industry. 

The agency has set a target of sustainably increasing data centre capacity by at least 300 MW. It aims to do so by promoting energy-efficient and low-carbon energy hardware and software.

It is eyeing industry partnerships to leverage the latest green technologies and co-develop enhanced standards and certifications around energy-efficient DCs. 

By the end of this year, IMDA will raise standards for energy efficiency in DCs by refreshing the BCA-IMDA Green Mark for DCs. By 2025, it will also introduce standards for IT equipment energy efficiency and liquid cooling.

To facilitate enterprise end-users to upgrade to energy-efficient IT equipment, IMDA has also partnered with the Economic Development Board (EDB) on the latter’s existing enhanced Resource Efficiency Grant for Emissions, and supplemented the incentives with its new Energy Efficiency Grant for the DC sector.

5.    New public healthcare platform on the cloud

National health tech agency, Synapxe, has launched a cloud-based analytics platform, Health Empowerment thru Advanced Learning & Intelligent eXchange (HEALIX), for the public healthcare sector. 

HEALIX brings together the entire public healthcare sector’s data on a single platform and makes it easier for healthcare institutions to tap on cloud-native AI and analytics tools.

According to the press release, analytics models will be useful in the context of population health-related research, which can help Singapore achieve the vision of HealthierSG, the country’s national preventative health strategy.

HEALIX is hosted on the Government Commercial Cloud and the Healthcare Commercial Cloud to ensure data interoperability.

Synapxe has signed an agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build HEALIX data infrastructure, gain access to AWS’ GenAI tools, best practices, and technical workshops.

“Synapxe will continue to work with more industry partners like service providers in data intelligence, data visualisation and system integrators to onboard more and new capabilities into the platform,” stated its press release.