Johnson Controls, EDB to set up $50m lab to drive innovations in built environment technology

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Johnson Controls on Wednesday (June 24) said it is partnering the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) to set up a $50 million innovation lab to drive artificial intelligence-based innovations for the Republic's built-environment industry.

Johnson Controls, which provides integrated smart green systems for the built environment, said it will develop "digital technology that blends building, spatial and behavioural data with analytics and machine learning".

Slated to open by end-September, the lab is expected to have more than 100 employees within four years. Alvin Ng, Johnson Controls' vice-president of digital solutions for the Asia-Pacific, told The Business Times on Wednesday that the majority of these employees will be new hires.

Tan Kong Hwee, executive vice-president at EDB, said: "Johnson Controls' decision to set up its innovation lab in Singapore underscores Singapore's attractiveness as a location for companies to develop and commercialise new digital solutions for the global market... We look forward to the impactful solutions that Johnson Controls will create, and the exciting job opportunities for Singaporeans in areas such as software engineering, data science and cyber security."

According to Johnson Controls, property owners, facilities managers, business users and building occupants are among the target groups expected to benefit from the launch of the innovation lab.

The company's multi-pronged strategy covers research, collaboration, commercialisation and implementation. "The resulting slew of customisable, autonomous or voice-activated solutions will meet the expectant growth for contactless applications, following societal adoption of safety and social-distancing measures as the post-pandemic norm," Johnson Controls said.

The firm's four-pronged approach includes forming partnerships with key local research organisations to accelerate innovation in software engineering and product development, while leveraging Johnson Controls' expertise in building technologies such as heating ventilation, air-condition, lights and security, it said.

Second, the firm will work with property developers and building owners to create "cognitive buildings" that can understand or predict occupants' preferred ambient settings and recognise space usage patterns. "Such innovation will improve energy usage, increase the commercial attractiveness of the property, and enhance its environmental, social and governance metrics," the company said.

In addition, Johnson Controls will build an ecosystem comprising lifestyle, fitness and smart furniture data points, which can be used for designing business and personal spaces.

It will also engage with professional bodies to deliver new applications that impact the sustainability and resilience of local properties, the company said.

"Urban living needs a reboot in the wake of a global pandemic. We see a renewed urgency to strengthen the resilience of our community and an opportunity to enhance sustainability," added Mr Ng.

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