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DataRobot to boost AI in Singapore with new APAC headquarters

Boston-based supplier of artificial intelligence tools DataRobot is investing around $11m in a regional office and research outfit in Singapore

DataRobot, a US supplier of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, is investing S$15m (US$11.1m) in Singapore in a bid to expand its business in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, a fast-growing market for AI technology.

The company said the investment will go mainly go towards setting up its regional headquarters and research and development (R&D) centre in Singapore. It is also looking to hire as many as 50 new employees comprising data scientists and technical experts by 2019.

Jeremy Achin, CEO and co-founder of DataRobot, said the company chose Singapore as its regional launchpad as its chief data scientist, Xavier Conort, was already based in the city-state. The work by the Singapore government in driving adoption of AI across industries over the past year was also a clincher.

With operations in Boston, Australia, France, Japan and the UK, DataRobot provides cloud-based and on-premise tools that help business users without AI expertise automate the data science workflow, from data preparation and processing to data modelling using open-source algorithms. Achin said the tools are already being used across industries, from financial services to public sector organisations.

DataRobot has been accredited by a Singapore government accreditation programme that provides a stamp of approval to technology suppliers that have passed stringent technical, financial and operational assessments.

The scheme has opened doors for technology companies that are looking to sell to government agencies and large enterprises.

AI has been identified as a key focus area in a government-led transformation blueprint aimed at shoring up Singapore’s IT, communications and media industries.

This includes developing a national corpus of audio and text files that enables applications such as chatbots to understand local accents, as well as matching businesses with AI technology suppliers and co-funding AI projects.

Read more about AI in APAC

In a separate study commissioned by ServiceNow, a supplier of cloud-based IT service management software, more than half (52%) of CIOs in Singapore surveyed agree on the ability of machine learning – an application of AI – to make complex decisions that are imperative to the success of their organisations, with 54% respondents citing machine learning as a strategic focus.

Singapore CIOs, however, are facing barriers in adopting machine learning. According to the same study, 70% of CIOs in the city-state said outdated processes are hindering adoption, while 35% said they lacked the skills needed to manage and maintain smart machines.

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