Singapore’s intellectual property agency has recently come up with a new technology plan and is most excited about the potential of Artificial Intelligence in government.

This year the agency plans to make it easier for people find information on patents and improve its online patent-filing service.

Darren Chan, Director of Information Technology, Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, tells GovInsider about his top priorities.

Darren Chan

What technology are you most excited about in 2016?

One of the most exciting technologies in my opinion is cognitive computing which has vast potential to transform our business processes and improve our customer experience. Some of the areas that we are looking into is how it can be potentially used to augment our customer service as well as improving the patent and trademarks examination processes.

How does Smart Nation affect your agency?

The Smart Nation journey is an exciting one with the Programme encouraging a culture of experimentation and building. This will likely result in an increase in new and innovative technologies that are created and IPOS is well positioned to play a facilitative role in supporting the development and growth of Intellectual Property that arises as part of the Programme.

An example is the special series of IP talks @ Launchpad organised by IPOS that shared on intellectual property issues that start-ups frequently face as well as common mistakes start-ups can avoid. IPOS also launched IP Business and Legal Clinics where business and legal questions can be answered by external consultants.

What is the biggest challenge that you had to overcome in 2015?

One of our biggest challenges in 2015 was to come up with a Strategic IT Plan for the next 3 years.

With the launch of IP²SG – IPOS’ new integrated platform for the e-filing of Patents, Trademarks and Designs – it was an opportune time for us to take stock of the current state of IT in IPOS’ business functions, present recommendations to chart the future direction and to align the IT department with IPOS, in order to enable the agency to achieve its vision to be a Global IP Hub in Asia.

The IT Department conducted interviews with various stakeholders, reviewed existing systems that support line of businesses and mapped out ICT strategies with solutions supporting them. Three broad programmes were recommended with projects identified to support these programmes. The Strategic IT Plan also recommended changes to our application and infrastructure architecture, and our application development strategy.

What is your key priority in 2016?

The major priority in 2016 is to complete the development of the S&E Workbench which is the IT system used to support IPOS’ Search & Examination operations. The system comprises of an Enterprise Content System with a search engine and the management of patent information and data.

We have also identified a basket of improvements to IP²SG that will provide a platform for sharing of data with our partners and the public as well as provide greater flexibility for integration with external partner applications.

Where did you work before you joined your current agency?

I started my career in R&D in a Japanese MNC before moving on to work for a number of local startups providing a diverse range of services such as web application development and high availability solutions.

Before joining the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (and seconded to the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore), I was part of a team that helped build the new School of Art, Design and Media in Nanyang Technological University. My role as the Assistant Director (Technical Operations) was to manage the IT Department of the school as well as the team of technical staff managing the operations of the departments of Film, Photography, Animation, Interactive Media and Product Design.

It was an amazing experience working with some of the best creative minds in Singapore in their respective fields and an opportunity that I am immensely grateful to be part of.

As a lighter question, how do you like to unwind after a long week at work?

As a parent of 3 young kids, I try to make time to be involved in their play and studies. I also try to work out at least twice a week and try to sneak in some reading when the kids are asleep.

This is an ongoing series of interviews with Singapore CIOs, outlining their top priorities over the coming year.