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SMU Artificial Intelligence Expert To Lead Salesforce Research Asia


US software company Salesforce has opened its first artificial intelligence (AI) research hub in Singapore – the first outside of the US.

The research hub will be co-located with Salesforce’s Singapore office and helmed by AI and machine learning expert Steven Hoi, who prior to this appointment was an Associate Professor of Information Systems at the Singapore Management University (SMU).

“Salesforce Research is committed to pushing the frontiers of AI for empowering the world’s smartest customer relationship management. It is uniquely focused on researching and developing AI capabilities for how AI can better serve enterprise use cases,” said Professor Hoi, the incoming Managing Director of Salesforce Research Asia.

The Asia research hub will focus on AI fields such as machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing (NLP), computer vision and voice recognition, Professor Hoi advised. Research findings will be shared in leading AI publications and conferences, and integrated into Salesforce’s CRM products and services.

“Unlike many industry R&D labs in Singapore, which often are more focused on software development, Salesforce Research Asia is very research-intensive. I am committed to enabling Salesforce’s goal of becoming a thought leader for AI in the Asian region,” he said.

During his academic tenure at SMU, Professor Hoi led research projects in AI and data science and co-authored over 200 publications in top-tier journals and conferences. For his contributions to machine learning for multimedia information retrieval and scalable data analytics, he was recently appointed an IEEE Fellow in 2019.

Along with its research focus, Salesforce Research Asia is committed to training up to 100 postgraduate students over a three-year period, with the first batch of students enrolling in August 2019.  The students will come from three local universities: SMU, the National University of Singapore, and Nanyang Technological University.

“Salesforce and SMU have developed the Salesforce-SMU Talent Programme, which is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board’s Industrial PhD Programme. The talent program aims to train PhD candidates in AI and AI-related areas, including big data, data mining and business analytics, deep learning, machine learning and NLP,” said Professor Hoi.

SMU graduate students can apply to join this program, which will give them the opportunity to work on research projects at Salesforce while pursuing their PhD degree at SMU.