New NUS AI centre in Suzhou to spur research and commercialisation

15 December 2017 | Research
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The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee (SIPAC) will jointly establish the NUS Artificial Intelligence Innovation and Commercialisation Centre (NUSAIICC) to promote the scientific and technological innovation, application and commercialisation of artificial intelligence (AI). The NUSAIICC will be sited within the NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute (NUSRI) in Suzhou, China and will be operational from January 2018.

An agreement was inked in Suzhou today between NUS Acting President Professor Tan Eng Chye and SIPAC Vice Director Mr Ding Lixin to formalise the collaboration and the establishment of NUSAIICC. The agreement involves a joint investment of close to RMB100 million (S$20 million) in funding and manpower to support the development and operation of NUSAIICC and NUSRI.

The NUSAIICC will be led by Professor Ooi Beng Chin as its inaugural Director. Prof Ooi, who is a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at NUS, will oversee a multidisciplinary research team drawn from across NUS faculties and research institutes to advance AI research, innovation, application and commercialisation across various areas, including health care, financial technology and smart city. The NUSAIICC will actively promote NUS technologies as well as identify and encourage budding start-ups to venture into the Chinese market through NUSAIICC and its one-stop services.

The new centre will undertake collaborative research and innovation in AI to develop advanced intelligent systems and platforms to help transform and upgrade the AI competencies across the full spectrum of industry ranging from start-ups, small-medium enterprises, to larger enterprises.  

It will provide technology incubation support and solutions to start-ups and small businesses, helping them solve problems with AI as well as accelerate the adoption of AI to promote and form an AI ecosystem and industrial chain in the Suzhou area. NUSAIICC aims to incubate 15 innovative companies in its first five years.

The collaboration will also offer valuable internship opportunities to NUS students, providing them real world exposure to the vibrant start-up scene in China and understanding of the Chinese market. NUSAIIC will also work closely with BLOCK71 Suzhou to strengthen NUS commercialisation activities in Suzhou.

As part of NUSAIICC’s role in facilitating robust scientific and technology exchange, it will also host 10 lectures and symposiums over five years to connect science and technology experts and industry leaders in AI-related fields.

Prof Ooi, who is also Director of NUS Smart Systems Institute, said, “The advances in AI presents an opportunity to solve society’s pressing problems in exciting new ways. NUSAIICC aims to be at the forefront of AI innovation, uncovering new insights and developing cutting-edge solutions for the world while at the same time fostering greater collaboration between industry and academia. I look forward to leading this new initiative and working with leading AI experts from Singapore and Suzhou.”    

Prof Tan Eng Chye said, “Following on the very recent expansion of NUS’ BLOCK71 ecosystem to Suzhou, we are delighted to strengthen further our ties with Suzhou with the launch of the NUSAIICC. This new NUS AI centre, our first in China, will foster deeper scientific and industrial exchange between Singapore and Suzhou, as well as catalyse new technology and breakthroughs that will have an impact on communities in both cities.

“We are excited by the synergy between NUSRI, BLOCK71 Suzhou and the NUSAIICC in Suzhou, and look forward very much to the innovations and insights to come.”