Sinar Mas mining firm sets up tech innovation centre in Singapore

A tech innovation centre was launched yesterday 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$2.7 million) but, according to a GIN spokesman, once the right opportunities and partners are found, Gear will be committed to scale up the investment.

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

Gear chief executive Fuganto Widjaja said: "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."

The centre will also focus on digital technologies that seek to transform capital-intensive activities of the heavy industries in South-east Asia, such as mining, 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 Fuganto: "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 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2019, with the headline 'Mining firm sets up tech innovation centre in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe