CHINESE artificial intelligence (AI) solutions provider Yitu Technology announced on Thursday the launch of a Singapore research and development (R&D) centre, its first outside its home country.

Located at Mapletree Business City, the Yitu Singapore R&D Centre will support the company’s growth in Singapore and the region, reaffirming its commitment to deepen partnerships within the local AI ecosystem, it said.

Yitu, which is known for its facial recognition software, opened an office in Singapore last year.

In the initial phase of Yitu Singapore R&D Centre, the focus will be on developing AI solutions for smart buildings, enhancing natural language and speech processing technologies for commercial applications, and optimising computer vision methods for medical diagnostics.

The launch of the centre will form a key part of Yitu’s plans to tap into the potential of Singapore and Southeast Asia as key drivers of global growth, said the company. As such, a “crucial component” of the centre’s activities will include customising AI applications to address specific local needs.

The Yitu Singapore R&D Centre currently houses 30 staff, comprising AI algorithm researchers, system researchers, hardware experts, and engineers. Yitu plans to triple its R&D staff count over the next three years, bringing the team size to around 100 employees.

Attracting top talent will also be a priority for the centre, said the company. Plans include rolling out an AI hackathon open to local tertiary students to bring in the next generation of AI talent.

The company also said that it intends to work closely with industry partners, local universities and research institutes to carry out pioneering R&D and has started to explore collaboration opportunities with local partners.

Initiatives include conducting trials with industry partners such as Keppel Land and working with Nanyang Polytechnic to boost industry-relevant AI education and research.

Zhang Zhenjie, R&D director of Yitu Singapore, said: “The R&D centre will provide a platform for local AI talent from both academia and industry to translate cutting-edge research into innovative AI technologies and solutions that create a better quality of life for citizens, from smarter healthcare to improved infrastructure.”

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