SINGAPORE, March 1 — As part of efforts to nurture artificial intelligence (AI) talent here, the Government will be giving out 100 AI-related scholarships to Singaporean students over the next three years, to pursue AI and related undergraduate, masters, and PhD courses in top universities.

This is an expansion of the existing SG Digital Scholarship programme, which supports students undertaking technology and media courses.

The Government will also facilitate access to overseas internships in AI-related roles, said Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo in Parliament today.

The Government will invest over S$20 million over the next three years into the AI scholarships and internship programmes, which are among moves aimed at tripling the pool of AI practitioners in Singapore to 15,000 over five years, Mrs Teo said during a debate on her ministry’s spending.


Practitioners include data and machine learning scientists and engineers involved in the translation and development of AI solutions.

Upon completion of their studies, scholars will be able to work in an organisation and industry of their choice in Singapore.

Scholars can also access additional funding for overseas internships and exchange programmes, or industry courses or certifications.


Applicants for the AI-related SG Digital Scholarship must be Singapore citizens and meet selection criteria, including having good academic and co-curricular activity records and they must be studying in AI or related courses.

Nurturing AI creators

Another group of AI talent that Singapore hopes to nurture are “creators”, or top-tier talent engaged in novel and cutting-edge AI activities, Mrs Teo said.

As an initial step to build the pool of creators here, the Government will launch a new AI Visiting Professorship to attract world-class AI researchers to establish collaborations with Singapore and invest S$7 million into a new AI Accelerated Masters Programme in collaboration with local universities.

Mrs Teo cited as an example Dr Koh Pang Wei, a Singaporean AI researcher who is based at the University of Washington.

“Dr Koh is highly sought after because he focuses on building AI models that can work with imperfect data, which is a common problem in real world applications,” she said.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Koh developed novel methods to estimate the movements of people from raw data. This led to models that helped governments understand the spread of the Covid-19 virus and inform reopening policies around the world.

“Dr Koh is a born and bred Singaporean. As much as we would like him to come home, we also recognise the value of the networks that he’s plugged into because of his current appointment,” Mrs Teo said.

“In fact, there are other researchers like him from diverse nationalities who would like to work more with us.”

The new AI Visiting Professorship is a way of welcoming such world-class researchers here and get them to collaborate with Singapore, she added.

The Government is targeting to award a pilot batch of five AI Visiting Professors over the next few years.

To support capability transfer, AI Visiting Professors will be required to spend at least 20 per cent of their time on the collaboration.

They will also need to identify a Singapore collaborator to anchor their activities here and will be encouraged to supervise junior researchers and students here.

The goal is for these AI Visiting Professors to drive research aligned with Singapore’s national AI research agenda, provide increased training opportunities for local students, and catalyse additional research activities in Singapore.

The AI Accelerated Masters Programme (AMP), meanwhile, is an investment by the government to grow Singapore’s pipeline of AI researchers, Mrs Teo said.

The objective is to build up Singaporean research talent and prepare local students to either take on industry AI research jobs or enhance their competitiveness for AI PhD programmes.

The AMP will be open only to Singaporeans, and the Government intends to support 50 students over the next three years.

Applications for the AMP are expected to open from March to May 2024, with further details to be released shortly.

The AMP works by condensing the Masters by Research (MbR) degree training from the traditional two-year duration to one year, by overlapping the training period with the final year of undergraduate study, allowing students to begin the Masters programme in their fourth year of undergraduate study.

Students who subsequently wish to pursue a PhD with their same institution can take another two years to do so. — TODAY