Recently, I had a discussion with a friend on how nations/countries can build an ecosystem to grow national level AI capabilities. This is especially important given that, even though most countries have pumped in millions of dollars to build their AI capabilities, capabilities building needs a nurturing process to ensure momentum and continue to grow.

In this post, I will be documenting and sharing how I will build such an ecosystem.


I identify four stakeholders in this ecosystem. They are

1) Government

2) Academic Institution

3) Private Sector

4) Talents

Let us look at them individually and the kind of role they play in the ecosystem. :)

1) Government

Capital is definitely the top resource needed to grow AI capabilities, but capital without a known direction or vision to build to is a waste of money and time. Thus the government has to come in the following:

Research Niche

There are many research areas in Artificial Intelligence right now, for instance, Reinforcement Learning, IoT, Privacy-Conserved Machine Learning, etc. Countries need to find a suitable niche and direct resources in that particular area(s).


Auditing content, delivery, and instructors in the AI training (mostly from academic institutions) ensures the following:

1) Content is always relevant to what the industry wants.

2) Delivery, in many different forms such as online, offline, mixed, instructor-led, audio, visual, etc so as to cater to the different learning styles of the audience.

3) Identify and qualify good quality instructors that have gathered many relevant project experiences, can share best practices, and are passionate about teaching.

Private Sector Education

Keep educating the private sector on what is the latest development on the Artificial Intelligence front, with the aim of increasing the adoption of the latest from academic institutions and increasing the demand for talents (i.e. job creation).

2) Academic Institutions

The institutions need to focus on two areas:

i) Research Niche

Given the research niche from the government, academic institutions are to source suitable research talents to push the frontiers! While doing that, work with private sector companies to commercialise those research, and negotiate for a fair licensing term to ensure there are more capital being pumped back into the research.

Identify from local education institutions research talents (suitable for the research niche), and provide scholarships for them to go overseas to learn through PhD programs.

ii) Training & Education

Build a strong relationship with the private sector, ensuring there are relevance in the training programs that are pushed out. That tight relationship can also enable talent pipelines toward private sector, through internships and normal hiring.

3) Private Sector

Private Sector does the following:

i) Commercialisation of New Tech (from research)

Using the funding from Government, licensed research and trained talents from Academic Institutions to do Proof-Of-Concept for adoption. Once the Proof-Of-Concept is successful, sell the New Tech locally and overseas.

ii) Hiring and Retaining of Talents

Provide a suitable environment for talents to flourish, perhaps through variety of projects and suitable level of autonomy. Continuously show the impact that these talents have made.

4) Talents

Talents play the role of research and/or adoption of research, ensuring a smooth transition from research to commercialisation and also the maintenance of these new tech.

Talents need avenues for them to grow continuously so Academic Institutions can provide relevant training, with support from Private Sector & Government. Besides training, a robust knowledge base will help too, such as a Central Repository of Use Cases (Success & Failure), Frameworks, etc.

Last but not least, there are strength in numbers, so talents can build tech communities that allow networking and cross-fertilization of knowledge and ideas.


All nations, if they are interested to build up strong capabilities in Artificial Intelligence, I strongly believed they need to work on building an ecosystem, that forms a virtuous cycle to build up their AI capabilities and be able to tap into the next big technological advancement.

What are your thoughts on this? :)

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