AIM expects new supercomputer to boost data science, drive innovation

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By Anna Gabriela A. Mogato

ASIAN Institute of Management (AIM) is eyeing to increase more innovation-driven projects in both the public and private sector with the launching of a research and development facility housing the country’s fastest supercomputer.

In partnership with Taiwan-based Acer Inc., the institute on Thursday inaugurated the Analytics, Computing, and Complex Sytems Laboratory (ACCeSs@AIM), the country’s first data sciences corporate laboratory.

ACCeSs@AIM executive managing director Christopher P. Monterola in his speech said that they are hoping to spearhead various changes in how private business and the government operate amid the shift to the fourth industrial revolution.

“We envision ACCeSs@AIM to lead and promote the use of data science, artificial intelligence, and computational models to help industries, government agencies, and other sectors; the end goal being to drive innovation,” he added.

The facility houses a 500-teraflop, the computing speed of the unit, and 500 terabyte Acer supercomputer donated by the Stan Shih foundation, which is named after Acer’s founder and honorary chairman.

While the supercomputer arrived in the Philippines only on Wednesday evening, the AIM has coupled the facility with a 14-month formal degree on Masters of Sciences in Data Science (MSDS) program, which started on March 5.

“It is certainly not easy to find properly trained data scientists in the Philippines or elsewhere and this shortage of talents will continue to happen if we don’t do something about it. I know many of our companies have this pain point,” Mr. Monterola said.

AIM Partnered with Aboitiz Group, equity from ATRAM, Ayala Corp., Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Mynt, Security Bank, SM Group, and UnitedHealth group to form the MSDS program.

AIM Dean and President Jinkyeong Kang said that both private companies and the government can both commission the MSDS students to work on their data, however AIM will have the intellectual property rights for the output.

Mr. Monterola said that AIM is set to roll out projects with Security Bank, Ayala Corp, and Analog Devices, Inc. in the coming weeks.

“We are also exploring potential partnerships with IBPAP (Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines), DoST (Department of Science and Technology), DTI (Department of Trade abd Industry), and other government agencies,” he added.

ACCeSs@AIM deputy director and Master of Science in Data Sciences Academic Director Erika Fille T. Legara told BusinessWorld that they are currently in an exploratory stage with the public sector.

“We’re working closely with the IBPAP, we’re looking at the future of jobs. They have asked AIM to build a model to map the supply and demand of jobs and hopefully to predict the future of jobs,” she added.

As for the private sector, Ms. Legara said that they have three projects already in the pipeline but was not allowed to disclose it.

In the Philippines, Ms. Legara said that while it could be safe to assume that around 10% of companies in the already do data science, they find it hard to convince “everyone to get on board.”

“You know, some companies look at data as cost, but if you really think about it, you can see data as something that can help you innovate as a company, and a source of profit, even,” she added.

Ms. Legara said that one of the partnership schemes AIM will be forming will make it more affordable for small and medium- sized enterprises (SME) to also make use for data science in their businesses.

“One of our inspirations really is to help SMEs and we know like what you said, it’s going to be expensive that’s why our students for their projects, it will be a symbiotic relationship so the companies,” she said.

“The SMEs, if they want to explore more on data science and they have the data, they can work closely with us and our students because it will really help our students have a feel on what it’s like to solve real-world problems,” she added.