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Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is planning to launch the National Multimodal LLM Programme (NMLP) in partnership with AI Singapore (AISG) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), to boost Singapore’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

This SGD 70 million project, funded by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF), will focus on enhancing the multimodal LLMs research and engineering over two years. This complements Singapore's Research, Innovation, and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 initiative and the National AI Strategy 2.0 (NAIS 2.0), which seeks to make Singapore a global AI leader by 2030.

The NMLP has three main objectives:

  • Build skilled AI talent in Singapore by providing funding and access to high-end computing for local researchers and engineers. This initiative will cultivate a skilled pool of AI professionals, fostering innovation and technological excellence in the development of AI solutions in Singapore.
  • Cultivate a flourishing AI industry focused on creating LLM-enabled solutions, enhancing productivity, and generating new opportunities for businesses. This program will foster collaborations with industry partners to provide a conducive environment to catalyze the development of novel AI enterprise use cases in a rapidly evolving landscape of AI technology.
  • Empower Singapore to establish a trusted AI environment by offering a deeper understanding of LLMs and fostering ongoing research in AI governance. The NMLP will develop a base model with regional context that can understand Singapore’s and the region’s unique linguistic characteristics and multi-lingual environment.

“This national effort underscores Singapore's commitment to become a global AI hub. Language is an essential enabler for collaboration. By investing in talent and investing in large language AI models for regional languages, we want to foster industry collaboration across borders and drive the next wave of AI innovation in Southeast Asia,” said Dr Ong Chen Hui, Assistant Chief Executive, Biztech Group, IMDA.

First Regional LLM in Southeast Asia

Singapore is spearheading the creation of multimodal and localized LLMs tailored to the diverse cultures and languages in the region, addressing the strategic imperative for sovereign capabilities. The program addresses disparities in local and regional cultures, beliefs, and conventions from Western countries, where most LLMs originate.

The program aims to build models and use cases in two years using AISG's SEA-LION1 model. SEA-LION is smaller, versatile, and speedier than other LLMs, making it an efficient alternative for Southeast Asian enterprises.

Technology organizations and businesses can leverage the global open-source community through IMDA's AI Governance Model Framework and AI Verify initiatives, reaping significant benefits. This collaborative initiative intends to develop AI testing tools for ethical and safe AI use in the industry.

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