NEC opens first 'living lab' in Singapore; to hire 50 more researchers, engineers

NEC Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. announced the opening of their first Advanced Centre for Experimentation (ACE), aiming to facilitate the company’s global Research & Development capabilities.
NEC Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. announced the opening of their first Advanced Centre for Experimentation (ACE), aiming to facilitate the company’s global Research & Development capabilities.PHOTO: NEC

SINGAPORE - Japan's NEC Corporation announced on Thursday (Aug 3) the opening of its first Advanced Centre for Experimentation (ACE) in Singapore to facilitate the company's global research & development capabilities.

NEC said the ACE is strategically located in Singapore, with its favourable research ecosystem and infrastructure, and forms a key component of NEC's growth strategy in the Asia Pacific region.

"The establishment of the ACE is a significant milestone for us as it is the first of its kind for NEC globally," said Tetsuro Akagi, Senior vice president of NEC Corporation and chief executive officer of NEC Asia Pacific.

"NEC is investing more than S$100 million in the Asia Pacific region over the next five years mainly for research and development, and the set-up of the ACE in Singapore is the heart of this investment," he added.

Calling Singapore a vitally strategic base for NEC, Mr Akagi said it is one of the safest places in the world for living and easy of doing business.

The facility will enable the co-creation of solutions by providing a "living lab" for proof-of-concepts for advanced solutions that help customers and partners, including governments and enterprises, in areas such as public safety, transportation and healthcare.

It allows for close collaboration with NEC researchers in a real world environment, and makes it possible to clearly understand the benefits of new solutions before commercial deployment and operation.

Operated by NEC Laboratories Singapore (NLS), the ACE leverages NEC's core technologies and advanced solutions, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and ICT platforms.

In conjunction with the opening of the ACE, NLS, which currently is staffed with 33 researchers and solution engineers, will hire 50 more within the next three years, mainly specializing in AI, the Internet-of-Things, Cognition and cyber security, thereby contributing to the further development of Singapore's R&D talent pool.

"This investment by NEC is a strong testament of Singapore's talent pool and innovation capabilities to drive the digital transformation of industries," said Tung Meng Fai, director, infocomms and media, Singapore Economic Development Board.

"The ACE will enrich Singapore's digital ecosystem, and will foster new partnerships for the co-creation and commercialization of new solutions from Singapore," he added.

NLS has already conducted joint research projects with Singapore partners. In 2014, SMRT Buses and NEC launched Singapore's first telematics monitoring system consisting of eco-drive sensors that monitor and analyze bus captains' driving behaviour.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling said as digital technologies bring about new possibilities and opportunities, Singapore is well positioned to capture these opportunities with its robust digital infrastructure and capabilities.

"One of our key priorities is to equip our people, Singaporean workers, with digital skills so that they can participate in and benefit from the digital economy," Ms Low said.

(Additional reporting by Annabeth Leow)