Artificial intelligence firm to set up R&D centre here

United States-based DataRobot has announced plans to set up a $15 million research and development (R&D) centre in Singapore.

The company, which set up a sales office in Singapore in 2014, will expand its workforce here from 10 to 50 by 2019 and base its regional headquarters in Singapore, it said yesterday.

Close to half of the new hires will be for technical roles in the company, whose artificial intelligence (AI) software has been used globally to detect fraudulent insurance claims, set competitive pricing and predict financial loan defaults.

DataRobot has an R&D centre in Boston in the United States which employs 60 people.

Mr Jeremy Achin, chief executive and co-founder of DataRobot, said locating its second global R&D centre here is a strategic decision.

"We see Asia-Pacific as a key growth market," he said, noting that companies in the region are beginning to see the importance of analysing customer and business data to gain a competitive advantage. He said DataRobot's software will be needed in this region, where there is an "acute shortage" of data scientists.

"The future is in AI and we believe Singapore can be the regional centre of this brave new world," he added.

DataRobot's expansion here comes after the Singapore Government announced its infocomm media Industry Transformation Map earlier this month, outlining AI as a growth area.

To prepare the local workforce for the future digital economy, the Government had also announced an AI apprenticeship programme to provide on-the-job or course training for the first batch of 200 professionals over the next three years.

DataRobot is one of the first few foreign companies accredited under the national Accreditation@SG Digital programme.

The scheme aims to grow the local technology and AI ecosystem.

DataRobot is also a core part of the curriculum under the National University of Singapore's Master of Science in Business Analytics programme.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2017, with the headline 'Artificial intelligence firm to set up R&D centre here'. Print Edition | Subscribe