Research and Development (R&D) is an important driver of Singapore’s economic and social growth. It enhances the competitiveness of existing businesses by driving efficiency improvements, and helps accelerate the development of new products and capabilities for industries of the future.
This is reflected in Singapore’s long-term commitment to invest S$25 billion in R&D, the equivalent of about 1% of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product over 2021 - 2025, as part of its Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 Plan . Singapore plans to focus its efforts on four strategic areas, including: manufacturing, trade and connectivity; human health and potential; urban solutions and sustainability; and smart nation and digital economy.
Advancing Singapore’s R&D Agenda
Singapore has built a rich and diverse research innovation community, including world-class research infrastructures and facilities such as the NSCC.
Established in 2015, NSCC is funded by the National Research Foundation and manages Singapore’s national petascale facilities and high-performance computing (HPC) resources, which support the research needs of the public and private sectors, including research institutes, institutes of higher learning, government agencies and companies. NSCC is tasked to leverage HPC to advance Singapore’s strategic interests, boost national initiatives, and facilitate industry transformation in areas like visualization, modelling, simulation, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence.
NSCC has been using on-premises infrastructure to run HPC to accelerate research in areas like biosciences, materials science and chemistry, and climate change. As the resource needs and workloads of NSCC’s researchers increase, there is a higher requirement for a scalable, cloud-based solution to enable running large models at scale, to complement their current infrastructure.
Enhancing research capabilities with AWS cloud technology
In support of the Singapore government’s objective to accelerate its R&D through innovative cloud technology, in March 2022, AWS and NSCC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enable NSCC to diversify and scale its compute requirements on AWS. The MOU will enable NSCC to innovate at speed and scale by accessing a broad range of AWS technologies, like machine learning and data analytics, to quickly design and test new ideas.
Globally, AWS is committed to helping researchers process complex workloads by providing cost-effective, scalable, and secure compute, storage, analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to accelerate time-to-science. AWS also provides researchers with access to open data sets, funding resources, and training to accelerate the pace of research innovation. Read more about AWS High Performance Computing, Open Data on AWS, and AWS grants for research and education.
The MOU will focus on launching proof-of-concept projects for a hybrid HPC system, which allows workloads to benefit from both on-premises and cloud-based infrastructures, including significantly reduced queue waiting times, and a larger variety of available compute resources. The hybrid HPC system will include cloud bursting capabilities, business continuity planning, workload automation and modernization, and other advanced computing technologies such as deep learning, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
A simple interface will also be built on AWS to integrate NSCC’s on-premises scheduling software and data transfer capabilities. This will provide NSCC seamless access to cloud resources, so that researchers can focus on scaling their research without having to worry about the underlying compute infrastructure constraints.
With AWS, NSCC Singapore can now run its large, complex simulations and deep learning workloads with a complete suite of high-performance computing products and services.
Further, AWS and NSCC will drive digital skills enablement among researchers through training workshops, to equip them with the skills needed to leverage AWS cloud and HPC technologies to accelerate research efforts.
“With AWS, NSCC Singapore can now run its large, complex simulations and deep learning workloads with a complete suite of high-performance computing products and services,” said Peter Moore, Regional Managing Director of AWS Worldwide Public Sector in Asia Pacific and Japan. “This will help researchers gain insights faster, quickly move from idea to market with virtually unlimited compute capacity, and access advanced computing technologies such as deep learning, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, enabling their advanced research in relevant fields such as genomics and biomedicine.”
Solving real world challenges with cloud-enabled innovations
Current studies by NSCC include research on how to curb the spread of metastatic cancers, microclimate modelling research to mitigate rising temperatures in Singapore, and the development of an ultra-high-resolution three-dimensional map of the human brain to find treatments for neurodegenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer’s disease.
“Research, innovation, and enterprise are areas essential for Singapore’s economic growth and development, as researchers work to innovate and develop solutions to help solve real-world challenges such as weather and climate change monitoring, and accelerating medicinal discovery,” said Associate Professor Tan Tin Wee, Chief Executive, NSCC. “With AWS, we are building a scalable cloud environment to give researchers instant access to the latest services to accelerate innovation, enabling NSCC to maximize operational efficiency and optimize performance to advance Singapore’s economic agenda.”
Powering breakthrough research in Singapore and beyond
AWS is also powering breakthrough research with NUS Business School’s occupational health genome project in Singapore, which uses genetic and environmental analyses insights to help people better understand the relationship between occupation and wellbeing. Today, NUS researchers are using NSCC to store data and run most of the project’s genomic analyses. To support increasing needs to access and store larger volumes of data, and collaborate with other institutions, NUS leveraged AWS’s flexible and extensive cloud computing resources, to enable researchers to optimize their work with better accessibility, parallel computing capacity, and data repository and web service capabilities. Looking ahead, NUS is working with AWS to build a reusable protocol to further streamline research processes, and launch a dedicated website for collaborating and sharing results with medical institutions and organizations around the world.