Innovation centre set up by mining company to focus on transformational digital technologies

SINGAPORE - An inaugural innovation centre was launched on Monday (April 29) by Golden Energy and Resources (Gear), a mining company linked to Indonesia's Sinar Mas Group.

The centre, Gear Innovation Network (GIN), was set up with an initial investment of US$2 million (S$2.72 million), but according to a GIN spokesman, once the right opportunities and partners are found, it will be committed to scale up the investment.

GIN is supported by the Economic Development Board (EDB), which will allow for greater access into the labour force in Singapore, through the building up of technological capabilities, said the spokesman.

Said Gear's chief executive officer Fuganto Widjaja: "We are pleased to be launching this initiative with the support of EDB, which will enable us to connect to the ecosystem of start-ups, educational institutions, technology companies and venture capitalists."

It will also focus on digital technologies that seek to transform capital-intensive activities of the heavy industries in South-east Asia, such as mining, development of mining infrastructure, logistics and construction, in a bid to derive significant cost savings. These cost savings will be translated towards the generation of greater shareholder value.

Added Mr Widjaja: "Singapore was a clear choice to be the centre of Gear's innovation efforts. The vibrant start-up scene, combined with the presence of dozens of R&D centres by leading global companies, makes it much easier for collaboration among innovators and cross-pollination across industries."

The projects to be undertaken by GIN will include technologies such as collaboration software, augmented reality driven design for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure, and artificial intelligence for schedule optimisation and predictive maintenance. Automation and robotics will also be employed in order to aid in autonomous mining processes.

All these are part of Gear's strategy to greatly reduce the financial and operational risks inherent in capital expenditure-intensive industries.

In the coming three years, Gear will be looking to expand its innovation team to include innovation scouts, product managers, research scientists and engineers.