Yitu Technology Eyes Southeast Asia AI Market

Yitu Technology, a Shanghai based artificial intelligence technology company, has opened a new office in Singapore as part of its effort to boost growth in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau and Oceania. (JG Photo/Dion Bisara)

By : JG | on 4:33 PM January 23, 2018
Category : Business, Corporate News

Singapore. Yitu Technology, a Shanghai based artificial intelligence technology company, has opened a new office in Singapore as part of its effort to boost growth in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau and Oceania.

The office will act as launching pad for the company to introduce AI and collaborate with public, banking and healthcare sectors across the region, Yitu general manager for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Macau Lance Wang said at a launching event on Tuesday (23/01).

"We see huge potential in Singapore and Southeast Asia. With our strength in R&D, we believe we can contribute more to the artificial intelligence sector here," Wang said.

A 2017 study by global consultants McKinsey & Company estimated Southeast Asia could gain potentially $897 billion in economic value if countries in the region pursue proactive artificial intelligence adoption across all sectors, including manufacturing, financial services, healthcare and transportation.

Founded in 2012 by Leo Zhu, a UCLA-trained artificial intelligence scientist, and Lin Chenxi, a former Alibaba Cloud engineer, Yitu made its breakthrough by implementing AI technology for face recognition in the banking industry.

Its facial recognition technology was rolled out in 2015 at 1,500 China Merchants Bank branches across China to help the bank verify customers. Other banking clients that have implemented the technology include Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and Agricultural Bank of China.

Yitu's facial recognition technology, capable of analyzing 1.8 billion faces in less than three seconds, was deployed at large-scale events like the G20 meeting and the BRIC Summit in China last year.

The company has also developed an AI system that helps doctors analyze medical data and medical imaging faster and more accurately.

Regarding plans for an expansion in Indonesia, Wang said the company is quite open to collaborate with distributors, banks or even airport operators that are interested in deploying the artificial technology.

Scott Ong, the technical director of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Macau at Yitu, said the decision to set up an office in Singapore was made primarily to gather the best talent from around the region. Yitu also plans to open research and development centers in Singapore later this year.

Yitu's move is in line with Singapore's plan to boost its artificial intelligence research. The island country set aside 150 million Singapore dollars ($113 million) in funding to support Singapore-based research institutions and plans to train 200 artificial intelligence engineers over the next three years.

"With Yitu setting up an R&D lab in Singapore, it will give the best and brightest AI talent from Singapore a chance to work alongside a technology leader like Yitu to tackle the challenges and problems across industries for Singapore, Asia and the world," said Ang Chin Tah, director of infocomms and media at Singapore Economic Development Board.

Yitu received $55 million in Series C investments led by Hillhouse Capital Group, a Chinese private equity firm focused on the consumer, industry and healthcare sectors last year. Others who participated in the investment round include Yunfeng Capital, Sequoia Capital, Banyan Capital and ZhenFund.

The Jakarta Globe was invited by Yitu Technology to attend the launch event in Singapore on Tuesday.

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