Cisco teams up with Singapore university in $40M research investment

National University of Singapore and Cisco have partnered to launch a "corporate laboratory" to drive research development in five key areas, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and healthcare, and will invest SG$54 million ($40 million) over five years.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Cisco and National University of Singapore (NUS) have teamed up to launch a "corporate laboratory" to drive research development in five key areas, including artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, and healthcare. The partners have pledged an investment of SG$54 million ($40 million) over five years. 

Called the Cisco-NUS Accelerated Digital Economy Corporate Laboratory, the research facility is located at the university's Kent Ridge campus and is supported by National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), according to a joint statement released Friday. 

The lab would employ more than 100 researchers, analysts, engineers, and students, and work on 15 research projects. Scholarships also would be awarded to doctoral students involved in such projects.

The research facility aimed to deliver 17 new products and services as well as 12 "improved" offerings in areas such as AI, healthcare, supply chain, urban infrastructure, and cybersecurity, It also would look to partner with at least 100 Singapore-based companies to use and finetune the developed technologies. 

Apart from AI, security, and healthcare, the la's research would encompass urban infrastructure and future workforce and productivity. Amongst other objectives, research efforts would aim to explore the use of machine learning to scale customer service operations for large enterprises, develop an intelligent infrastructure for hospitals and healthcare at home, and improve productivity through understanding how employees learn and identifying skillsets needed in future workforce. 

Researchers, for instance, would develop AI algorithms to improve search, extraction, and knowledge learning from data collected in workplace environments. In healthcare, researchers would look to equip hospitals with "distributed and coordinated" intelligence to improve operational and clinical efficiencies. 

"These technologies are key not just in relation to successful digital transformation of businesses, but also to efforts of governments across the world as they look to digital adoption to improve citizen services," NUS and Cisco said. "This is especially critical right now as companies and countries prepare for a post-pandemic future where digital-first interactions, a hybrid workforce, and smart urban infrastructure are likely to become ubiquitous."

They added that cybersecurity would underpin such developments and enable businesses and governments to protect critical information infrastructures against malicious attacks. 

"Digital transformation is an inevitable direction for businesses and societies, and this has been accelerated by the COVID-19 situation. We need to be nimble and innovative to reap the benefits of digitalisation," NUS President Tan Eng Chye said, adding that the university's key research capabilities included data sciences, AI, and optimisation.

Cisco's Asean president Naveen Menon said: "Over the past 18 months, we have seen the role technology has played in keeping the world running as we grappled with the pandemic. As we prepare for a post-pandemic future, one thing is clear -- technology will be central to every aspect of businesses and governments, and their interaction with consumers and citizens. In this digital-first era, building local innovation capabilities that deliver globally relevant solutions will be critical to the success of countries."

The lab is jointly led by Cisco Singapore's co-innovation center manager Jeremy Lim and NUS' Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty member and associate professor Biplab Sikdar.


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