Intellectual property (IP) intelligence startup PatSnap is leveling up its Singapore presence with a new research and development center in 2017. The company first mentioned the center last November, when it raised an undisclosed amount of funding for its series C. Today it has made it official.
PatSnap will invest US$15.6 million in the project over the next two years and will work together with Singapore’s Economic Development Board to cultivate highly specialized talent for it.
With EDB’s support, the company hopes to do its part for building up technical talent in the city-state. “We want to try to tap into talent in multiple regions,” CEO Jeffrey Tiong tells Tech in Asia.
The new center will research technologies like natural language processing and image recognition.
The Singapore- and London-based startup handles patent research and strategy for businesses. It uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to go through a global index of IP data and correlate it with financial and market trends to produce analysis and advice.
Its clients include companies, academic institutions, and government agencies across 28 countries.
The new center is meant to enhance PatSnap’s online platform by researching machine learning techniques and technologies like natural language processing, image recognition, and semantic search.
This type of intelligence and being able to access it through one handy dashboard is something that PatSnap’s clients have been demanding more and more lately, Jeffrey says. “Most data is available online but to make connections between all those different sets is not straightforward,” he says.
Advances in machine learning and neural networks can help with what Jeffrey calls “entity recognition” – determining if multiple subtly different entries of, say, a name refer to the same person or company.
“This capability of connecting the dots between different data sources is what we’d like to build in Singapore,” Jeffrey says.
Propping up the local ecosystem
PatSnap has prepared for the launch by collaborating with Singaporean institutions like the National University of Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A-STAR). It will also maintain “close relations” with local startups that work on AI and is on the lookout for more partners to work with.
For example, the startup works with AI image recognition firm ViSenze to power some of its visual search capabilities.
PatSnap hopes to go public in the US, its largest market at the moment.
The R&D center will hire around 15 data scientists and software engineers. Once fully formed, the Singapore team will work closely with and complement a similar facility based in China. PatSnap’s CTO, Markus Haense, will relocate to Singapore to oversee the new facility.
For the near future, PatSnap wants to hunker down, serve its customers, and continue working on its product. Jeffrey says its revenue is in the double digit millions of dollars but doesn’t get more specific. Among PatSnap’s investors are Sequoia China, Temasek Holdings, and Vertex Ventures.
Ultimately, the company hopes to go public in the US, its largest market at the moment, with China coming in second.
The decision is based on the market’s maturity, the success of software-as-a-service business models, and the abundance of investors. But it will help check one more thing off Jeffrey’s bucket list. “It’s my dream to ring the bell in NYSE or NASDAQ one day,” he laughs.
Converted from Singapore dollars. US$1 = S$1.41
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