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AI-driven cars for Hong Kong

According to a recent report, a Hong Kong-based start-up, which is also the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence start-up, plans to sustain growth by expanding globally and diving deeper into arenas from autonomous cars to healthcare.

The company counts education, self-driving vehicles as well as surgery and diagnostics among areas ripe for commercialising AI, according to the company’s managing director.

The firm is now actively seeking out investments in fellow start-ups that can benefit from its own technology.

Investors are handing billions of dollars to Chinese AI start-ups, hoping to ride a wave of support from a government intent on becoming the world leader in the technology by 2030.

The AI start-up was last valued at more than $4.5 billion, is said to be aiming to raise new funds this year. However, a spokesperson for the firm declined to comment on that.

The start-up specialises in systems that analyse faces and images on an enormous scale and works with retailers and healthcare researchers but not directly with the Chinese government. The company has been profitable for two years and has grown to 3,000 people, of which the third work in research. The firm is based in Hong Kong and China, with offices in Japan and Singapore and plans for more internationally.

It was noted that the top line has been growing at triple digits for the past four years. Now that the firm has a bigger base, it probably won’t be as high going forward. Despite the fact that the firm is a start-up, the founding team been working with AI for almost three decades.

The company’s 200 AI scientists will prove invaluable in spotting investment opportunities beyond the dozen or so start-ups it’s already backed. The company’s overarching goal is to get AI in front of a swathe of industries and as many people as possible, using data to generate the requisite algorithm via machine learning.

The spokesperson noted that the start-up does not own any of the information; the data belongs to its clients. The firm comes in because a majority of companies don’t have a proper AI strategy or they don’t know how to monetise AI.

Hong Kong Smart City goals

The company’s decision to expand and move into different sectors of research and product development and countries are in line with the Smart City objectives laid out by the HKSAR Government.

That is, with a vision to build Hong Kong into a world-class smart city, the Government is always looking for start-ups like the company mentioned above.

As Hong Kong works to realise its Smart City objectives – making use of innovation and technology (I&T) to address urban challenges, enhancing the effectiveness of city management and improving people’s quality of living as well as Hong Kong’s sustainability, efficiency and safety; enhancing Hong Kong’s attractiveness to global businesses and talents; and inspiring continuous city innovation and sustainable economic development – companies like the AI start-up are invaluable as they help encourage economic interest in the region and boost investments by other overseas firms into the region’s FinTech firms and solutions.

This means a better quality of life for citizens, better job opportunities, a higher rate of information and expertise exchange, a more diversified economy and a working population that is better equipped to help in the digital transformation of Hong Kong.


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