Chinese tech giant Huawei opens cloud and AI innovation lab in Singapore

The main aim of Huawei's new lab is to promote cloud and AI technologies to be adopted in Singapore.
The main aim of Huawei's new lab is to promote cloud and AI technologies to be adopted in Singapore.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Chinese tech giant Huawei on Wednesday (April 24) announced the launch of a cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) innovation lab in Singapore while pledging to commit "hundreds of millions" worth of investment in the Republic and the Asia Pacific market in the coming years.

The main aim of the new open lab, which will be "available for everyone to use", is to promote cloud and AI technologies to be adopted in Singapore, said Mr Edward Deng, vice-president of the cloud business unit at the firm.

Mr Deng told reporters on the sidelines of the Huawei Cloud Summit 2019 that the open lab mechanism has been shown to be very effective in China, Hong Kong and Europe.

It is meant to serve developers and university students, companies, as well as to provide a platform to launch projects for public benefit, he said.

Mr Deng cited several ways how Huawei's open lab mechanism would operate.

University students, for example, will be invited to join and develop whatever they wanted, he said.

For companies, the lab could showcase AI applications in specific sectors and gather industry players to work together.

 

"For example, we may have one week for the medical industry where we can invite the hospitals to share their practices in AI," said Mr Deng.

He also hopes to use the lab to roll out projects in environmental protection, disaster management and pollution prevention.

"We have a lot experience in China, and we can share that in Singapore," he added.

In a short address at the start of the Huawei Cloud Summit, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) chief executive Tan Kiat How said cloud services, higher-speed broadbands and next-generation networks are some of the important components of the digital transformation of Singapore.

"It is important for Singapore, which is a small and open economy, to work with all partners. And we are very pleased to invite all cloud service providers, important technology players from around the world to be part of our ecosystem," he said to the gathering of about 1,000 developers, industry players, experts and government officials.

"We welcome the newest addition to the Singapore ecosystem," he said, referring to Huawei's cloud and AI business.

Mr Deng described Singapore as an ideal location for Huawei to expand its cloud business and the firm has earmarked the Republic to be one of its largest cloud nodes outside of China.

He noted that Singapore has a good capacity of data centres and good connectivity, thanks to the submarine cable fibre connections.

Its efficient government, transparent investment environment and pro-business policies are also very attractive, he added.

Huawei's expansion in Singapore and the region comes as it faces accusations in the West of spying and intellectual property theft.

When asked if these allegations had affected its business here, Huawei International chief executive Nicholas Ma said there has been no impact and the local business has enjoyed good growth in the first quarter.

"We will invest more not only in cloud and AI, but also in 5G and the enterprise business," Mr Ma told reporters.

In the enterprise business sector, about 440 partners have registered with the firm, and it has already cooperated with more than 200 partners. It also enjoys "very good collaboration" with its more than 50 subcontractors, Mr Ma said.

"We see more and more cooperation and a better future in this country," he said, referring to Singapore.