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Element AI teams up with AI Singapore

The Canadian upstart is co-developing AI applications for local industries as part of its efforts to build new research capabilities via local talent pools

Canada-based artificial intelligence (AI) company Element AI has partnered with AI Singapore to jointly develop AI offerings for the financial and supply chain industries, underscoring the growing momentum of AI adoption in the city state.

As part of the partnership, Element AI will co-locate part of its team together with AI Singapore in the newly launched innovation 4.0 building at the National University of Singapore.

The move also signals a continuation of Element AI’s global expansion as it focuses on product implementation, while also extending its collaborative research model to the Singapore research community.

“Together with Element AI, we are ready to seize new opportunities that will strengthen AI innovation in Singapore,” said Ho Teck Hua, executive chairman of AI Singapore. “Investment in knowledge transfer and our local talent pool alongside Element AI will foster industry adoption efforts and help drive our smart nation initiatives forward.”

Element AI CEO Jean-Francois Gagné noted that growing the company’s presence in Singapore “goes hand-in-hand with our efforts to foster innovation and achieve new research capabilities via local talent pools”.

Founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneurs Gagné and Nicolas Chapados, Real Ventures, and Canadian computer scientist Yoshua Bengio, dubbed “a co-father of deep learning tech”, Element AI develops AI applications for smaller companies that would not have been able to afford AI offerings from large enterprise software suppliers.

The company closed a $102m million series A investment in 2017 from some of the biggest names in technology such as Microsoft Ventures, Nvidia, Intel and Tencent. That same year, it launched its Singapore office which also serves as its hub for Southeast Asia.

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Singapore has been ramping up efforts to broaden access to AI technologies in recent years. In August 2018, AI Singapore launched the AI for Everyone programme to help students and working adults become more aware of how AI can be used in their daily lives.

Although Singapore’s investments in AI pales in comparison to that of the US and China, the city-state hopes to develop a niche for itself in areas that have most impact of its people and industries.

For example, it has set up a speech lab to develop a speech recognition system that can interpret and process the unique vocabulary used by Singaporeans – including Singlish and dialects – in daily conversations.

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